Since May of 2018, I’ve been working from home as a web designer and front-end web developer, continuing in a role that I previously held on location in the company office. The transition from working in an office with my coworkers to working remotely was surprisingly smooth, and I’ve continued to make adjustments over the past year to enhance the experience. If you’re in the beginning stages of a transition to remote work, I hope these tips can help bring you success in your new working environment.
1. Have a dedicated workspace
Having a space dedicated to your job will help separate your work and home life. Compared to working in an office, where you leave behind any unfinished tasks at the end of the day, you will always have access to your work while working from home. A dedicated space creates a boundary – you only sit at your desk or go into your office space during work times – not in the evening, not on the weekends.
Create a digital boundary as well.. If you see an email come in outside of work hours, you’ll be tempted to answer it. Turn off all work-related notifications and save work for work time.
2. Use your downtime wisely
Throughout the day, use your breaks to get stuff done around the house. You’re already (hopefully) in a focused and productive mood, so why not use it to your advantage? If you’re heating up a snack or drink in the microwave, take the minute and tidy your kitchen – it’s amazing how much such difference such a short amount of cleaning makes! During your lunch break, fold some laundry that you got started earlier in the day, empty the dishwasher, whatever needs to be done. You can watch videos or listen to music or a podcast so it still feels like a break.
If you have a significant other who works outside the home, use the time before they arrive home from work to start dinner or do some extra cleaning. Coming home to a messy house isn’t fun for anyone, and coming home to dinner in the oven is great for everyone!
3. Minimize distractions
Working from home and not having anyone looking over your shoulder, it’s easy to get pulled in by distractions that you normally wouldn’t partake in at the office. A good rule is to keep your personal cell phone in a different room, on silent. Set certain times for yourself to check it – maybe just at lunch, or leave it in the bathroom and check it during your bathroom breaks. If you find yourself getting distracted by anything else, find ways to remove them from your workspace if possible. At the very least, set boundaries for indulging.
4. Keep a consistent schedule
If your employer allows you to have flexible hours, that’s great. It allows you to schedule personal appointments, like dental checkups, during the workday, and work early or late if you need to. However, I would recommend keeping a consistent schedule except for special occasions when it is necessary. Working flexible hours can trap you by making you work much later than you wanted to, because you felt like starting the day later or took a couple extra breaks. If you find you work better this way, that’s totally fine! However, I prefer to start work early which allows me to stop work early, too.
5. Stay connected
It can be easy to become isolated when you work from home, especially if you are an introvert (hello, that’s me!). You don’t have the coincidental meetings with people passing in the hallway or grabbing coffee from the breakroom, and you miss out on company gatherings like team lunches or birthday celebrations. Make a point to stay connected with your coworkers, especially those that you don’t work directly with. Suggest video calls instead of voice calls or slack conversations to bring an extra level of connection.
6. Get outside
In addition to staying connected with your coworkers, make sure you aren’t pushing aside your out-of-work friends either. Staying inside alone all day can lead to some mild depression, which leads to a cycle of not wanting leave the house to see anyone else, and feeling even worse. Make plans to get out of the house so you don’t go crazy cooped up inside. Go on a walk outside every day if you can – the fresh air can really switch up your mood for the better.
Working from home is a blessing, but it does come with some challenges. By being mindful of the possible pitfalls and taking measures to avoid them, you can make your work-from-home career a success.