Adjusting from an in-office work setting to a remote work from home setting can be a considerable and sometimes bumpy transition, especially when the change is abrupt and unplanned. Listed below are some tips on how to make this switch a smooth and happy one! Hopefully, with these tips, your shift from an in-office to remote work setting will help provide a more fluid transition and show you how to make working from home work best for you.
As a remote worker, it is important to set boundaries between your work and home life as the lines can become easily blurred. The best way to do this is to “unplug” at quitting time. Regardless of where your home office is located, make sure your work for the day is cleaned up and put away. Turn your computer off and try to keep it out of sight if possible. You do not want to be tempted to return to your computer to check work emails or take a “quick” five minutes to wrap something up later. More times than none you will end up getting wrapped up in your work and spend more time than you planned on a new or existing task when all you planned to do was check a quick email or add some additional notes to a project. You want to make sure your work and personal life are well balanced and there is a clear separation, or burnout can easily occur. A great way to determine when to be off work and to stay off is to stick to the time you would normally arrive home after your daily commute.
Staying away from your work can be a bit difficult if you are using your personal computer for work. If this is the case, make sure you have your work email notifications turned off and your work tasks closed out so you will be less tempted to check-in or work extra. Although it may not be something that affects you negatively in the short-term, in the long-term the extra hours and work can start to wear on you. You might not see the negative effects of burnout until it is too late.
Stay engaged with others
Isolation and loneliness can be common side effects of remote work. Depending on your personality and how successful you are at keeping yourself busy and active outside of work, this can affect some more than others. A good way to preserve your interactions with your company and co-workers is to continue to have regular meetings through virtual communication. There are many applications out there that allow both video and audio conferences – this is a great way to stay active with those you work within a remote setting. Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and make a call! Although email may be your main source of communication in a telework position, a phone call is just as important and should be a welcomed form of communication for staying in touch and updated.
Keeping active with people outside of work is also an important part of working remotely. Try to stay connected with friends and family during the weekday and meet up with some neighbors during breaks or lunch. If your work allows for a flexible schedule, break your day up and do some errands mid-day to get out and about and have some face time outside of your home.
Everyone’s home environment is different, some live alone, others live with extended family for various reasons, and some have little ones or pets with them around the clock. No matter your lifestyle, make sure your distractions are limited during your work hours. If others are home when you are working make sure they are aware of your schedule and aware not to come and bother you during certain times, especially if you do not have a door to keep you separated. Depending on your perfect work environment, if you prefer a more quiet and calm setting, investing in noise-canceling headphones, or even earplugs could be a great way to limit any outside noise and distractions. If you are someone who is not averse to a little background noise and perhaps the silence is a little to deafening for you, putting on some music or a podcast can be a great way to help keep your attention – just make sure it doesn’t direct your focus away from your work!
Find the best schedule for your lifestyle
Remote work has many advantages, one of the best being able to have a flexible schedule. A routine and boundaries are necessary for any job but it is up to you as to what routine works best for you when at home. When are you most productive? If you work better in the early mornings, late evenings, or intermittently throughout the day apply that to your remote work schedule. Experiment and find something that works for both your work life and home life – finding a balance between the two is key!
Get comfortable but stay professional
If an office your workspace is usually pre-arranged for you and allows for limited personal touches but with remote work you get to choose where you work within your home. Experiment and see which location of your home offers you the most productive and comfortable setting. While some can work from a couch or bed, others need a more structured environment that has a more traditional feel with a desk and chair. Whatever is your most preferred environment make sure it is conducive to staying productive in your work life. Once you’ve chosen your location, personalize it! The sky is the limit when it comes to decorating your home so why not take advantage?
Another benefit of working from home is being able to dress comfortably and casually, but you want to be careful you do not fall subject to being too comfortable in your work from home lifestyle causing you to lose that balance between being comfortable and productive at the same time. If you find you are less productive working from your bed or in your pajamas, find a location that allows you to be motivated and focused. Create your own personal dress code that requires you to stay professional while being comfy all at the same time. Embracing not having to go into an office every day can have its perks but if you are not yet adept at staying self-motivated and productive in a 100% relaxed environment, set standards and restrictions for yourself. Also, if you know you will be on any video calls make sure you are presentable and still look put together – no need to overdo it but you still want to maintain that professional look even if you are in casual attire. No reason to feel stuffy in your own home – personalize your workspace and make it your own! Create an environment you enjoy and want to work in every day. Embrace flexibility!
Continue to be active
In an office setting you generally have a lot of breaks throughout your day, whether that is walking to and from the bathroom, break room, co-workers desk/office you generally have more time to walk around then when you are at home. At home, because there are fewer distractions then in an office, it is easy to get wrapped up in the work you are doing and forget to take the time you need to get up, stretch your legs, and mentally recharge. You also want to make sure your scenery changes from time to time to avoid stagnation. Try to take short breaks every couple or few hours. Walk around your house or neighborhood, refill your glass or coffee mug, peek out the window! On longer breaks or lunch take a walk around the neighborhood or do an at home work out. Using a yoga ball as an office chair or having an under-desk elliptical/bike pedal is a great way to stay active while working! Setting reminders on your phone or through your calendar can help ensure you don’t lose track of time and are taking your much-needed breaks. Go outside and read a book, or get some to-do items checked off your list mid-day – don’t let yourself be chained to your desk!
Take time to prepare and unwind
Just because you now work from home does not mean you shouldn’t be able to take the time you normally have during your commute to and from work to mentally prepare for the day and/or decompress when the day is over. Even if it is just five minutes, take some time to enjoy a cup of coffee, eat breakfast, catch up on the news, do some breathing exercises, whatever it is you need to do in order to mentally prepare before work and decompress after work. Because working from home allows you that extra flexibility and time to spend on sleeping in a little longer, or using your commute time to get you and your family ready for your day, taking some personal time is not always needed or feasible. So, even if you can only find the time to do this a couple of times a week, or a few times a month, having that downtime can do wonders for helping to keep that line between work and life a little less blurred.
Remember, remote work is not always a quick and easy adjustment and can take some fine-tuning when it comes to creating the best remote work lifestyle for you. Stick with it and experiment, try to be creative with your ideas and routine!