Once considered a novelty or a “perk”, Work From Home or working remotely is increasingly becoming the “new norm” in the US and across the world.
While many early advocates of remote work could not have imagined that this is the situation that would finally push the masses to try this new style of work, there is comfort in knowing people have been doing this comfortably and successfully for decades.
It can be a big switch for anyone, going from a traditional work environment with lots of in person meetings and interactions, to well, just yourself.
We’re here to assure you that not only is it possible for you to break your old habits to adapt new remote working ones, you might find yourself really enjoying it.
If you’ve been worried about your lack of productivity lately, first, take a deep breath and a step back. In the midst of a pandemic, no one should weigh any balance on their usual standard of productivity. Things are different for everyone and it will take some getting used to.
Here’s 7 pro remote work tips from those who have been doing it for years to help us newbies tackle our new home office.
1. Create Your “Work” Environment
Perhaps the most important first step is creating an environment where you actually feel like your working, and away from your home life.
Wherever you choose, your subconscious needs to acknowledge that it’s “work” time, not Netflix or nap time. While everyone is different and can adapt to different situations, you need to find out what works best for you.
For some, a completely cleared off desk with lots of light and zero distractions is the only place they can work from while at home. While others have no problem posting up on the couch with their laptop, snacks at the ready.
It’s all about experimenting with different environments and taking close notice of how you feel and your productivity.
2. Use apps that you’ll actually use
In the midst of people making the switch to remote working en-masse, there’s been no doubt a surge in productivity and communication apps.
Some are for personal productivity, like to do lists, or goal trackers, and some are company mandated like video conference solutions like Zoom or task organization softwares like Trello, Slack, Monday.
While these are all incredible softwares and will no doubt have an impact on your productivity while used effectively, using too much can become overwhelming, and actually motivate you not to use any of them all.
This is why it’s important to keep your communication and productivity softwares relatively simple and a low number of them to develop a routine and experience in the programs you actually like using, not ones you’re forced to.
3. Make following up a habit
It’s a big switch for a lot us.
From what once was just walking down the hallway or turning your right shoulder to ask your coworker a question or for project approval, has turned into either 5 emails, 10 slack messages, or a 2 hour Zoom call.
Yes everyone is all over the place, but they won’t be for long. In order to be proactive and on top of your work, make following up a habit. Even weekly check ins, which have been popular amongst in person workers for years now suddenly becomes even more crucial when everyone needs to make sure they are on the same page.
Avoid future communication problems by having a set schedule for check ins, and if anything arises, straight and to the point phone calls or messages are your friend.
4. Take advantage of your flexibility
Yes, at the end of the day, even though we’re working from home, we’re still working.
However, don’t be afraid to take advantage of your newfound flexibility and fit things into your work day that you just didn’t have the time or opportunity to do so before.
Want to try a new recipe for lunch instead of the same spot around the corner from the office?
Want to fit in a 25 minute bodyweight workout between conference calls?
No one’s stopping you.
This is a great time to not only stay productive with your work, but to process these new gaps in the day that we have and apply them to things you previously just couldn’t do.
Breaks are also incredibly important, so if you want to take these gaps to simply just chill out or take a nap, you know what is best for you.
5. Stick to a schedule (for the most part)
Having newfound flexibility is a good thing, but it’s important not to get carried away.
Most people (definitely not all), are at their most productive when they have some sort of schedule.
Does this mean every hour of your day to the minute needs to be blocked off and designated? Of course not.
But designing a preliminary outline of your day, even on a day to day basis can dramatically reduce the mind clutter of “oh god what do I have to do next”, and can help you get back into your focus zone.
6. Switch up the spot!
One of the beauties of remote working is that you can work, remotely.
As in, anywhere that’s safe and convenient for you to do so.
Try out new rooms, get out of the house and go to a park or shady area in your neighborhood.
Take calls while going for a walk outside. Host your stand up meetings in some place you haven’t worked from in your house yet.
Not only does switching up your work space ignite creativity and helps you get a new perspective, but its also a a great switch from the “same old” that many of us have been experiencing during quarantine.
7. Set work/home boundaries
Lastly, make time for work, and make time for home.
Yes, working from home does not mean that you just get to ignore all of your other daily responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of your children if you have any, and the list goes on.
However, without setting clear boundaries of when you’re in “work” mode and when you’re in home or “chore” mode, nothing on either side will ever get done.
Often times, urges to do other home activities instead of working are just internal procrastination triggers.
“Oh, that round of round up emails can wait until after this load of laundry.”
“Jeez, it’s 3pm already? Time to cook dinner!”
Now, it’s completely understandable and expected that people won’t turn into productivity machines everyday while home, and that’s okay. But without setting basic boundaries, even if their just in your mind, you might find yourself never being able to truly adapt to this new way of life.
Working from home is a new experience for a lot of us, and it can be a difficult time adapting and coping.
No matter what the future holds, it can be safe to say that in some aspects, working life will probably never go back to being exactly the same.
What this will look like specifically, no one knows for sure. But getting used to working remotely and designing an environment and routine that works for you is all that matters.