Work From Home Best Practice

The foundation of remote work is built upon mutual trust and respect between the individual and employer. Autonomy and time management are two major factors when considering the transition to a remote work environment. Employees owe it to themselves and their employers to show up as their best selves, which requires managing personal and family needs, while discovering the path to efficiency and achieving work-from-home success.

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Here are some useful tips to help maintain balance, well-being, and productivity while working from home:

1 Set a schedule.  Organize your to-do list and strategize for the day to stay one step ahead. It could be helpful to distribute your tasks into the evening if that works for you, but set a specific time each day after which you consider yourself to be off the clock. Establishing clear guidelines for when to work and when to stop will help you maintain work-life balance and avoid burnout.

2 Create a dedicated workspace.  Choose an area of your home where you separate work from leisure. Make sure the space is sufficient enough to operate your business, ideally a separate space where you can minimize distractions. If you live in a smaller environment, designate one area of the kitchen or bedroom that you can use for work, like a desk or table.

3  Choose the appropriate tools and intentionally create your desired atmosphere.  Purchase art for your office or flowers for your desk. Consider using a back pillow to make the seating more comfortable. You can also utilize desk organizers to store items like paper, pens, and files. Music players and white noise machines can also help to make a home office more calm and drown out any unwanted noise. Light a candle, put on your favorite Youtube or Spotify playlist, and get to work.

4  Collaborate and communicate frequently.  There might be channels where remote employees can talk about common interests, meetups for people in the same region, and (after the coronavirus ends) inperson retreats. Many of your colleagues are facing similar challenges, with no opportunity for the typical office chat that allows for mutual assistance and brainstorming. Don’t be afraid to reach out by email, phone, or social media to ask the kinds of questions that might be more appropriate given the distance.

5 Set boundaries with others at home.  If needed, close a door or two to maintain adequate distance between yourself and pets or children. You may also need to negotiate with others working from home for equitable access to resources. Connect with other parents on ways they have set up workstations, play areas, or systems for their children to engage with them during the work day (i.e. signs that say shhhhhhh…..in a meeting/Ask Mom/Dad anything, scheduling movie times during projects, etc.).

6  Remember to prioritize taking breaks, and be sure to take them in their entirety.  We are all human and function best when we allow our minds to take a break. When your day allows, try to schedule break time every 75-90 minutes or try working in 30-50 minute increments and take a break afterward. When you’re on your own, it’s easier to become absorbed and burn out before the end of the workday. Set alarms if you must. Here are a few things you can do during your break:

Step outside for some fresh air

Do a few quick stretches

Get up and go for a walk

Text or call another human being if you feel isolated from others

7  Set a 30 minute end-of-day timer to help prepare you for finishing your work day and transitioning into your free time. If you need to work overtime, set a time for the amount of time you will work to help hold yourself accountable.

8  Carve out time for professional development.  Research courses and proactively seek out development and mentorship opportunities within the organization. This will keep you focused on a larger goal outside of your day to day responsibilities. Leadership and technical skills, especially those related to information management and collaboration, are essential for telecommuters who are looking to grow their career.

9  Mind your food habits.  Make sure to eat lunch at a normal time and try to eat your meals away from your workspace. Prepping meals ahead of time can also be helpful. It can be tempting to snack all day or even skip meals, but sticking to a schedule can be useful if this is something you struggle with.

10  Play with lighting in your office space. Consider arranging your office to maximize getting the most natural light on your workspace without getting it directly on your screen. Low lighting makes the room feel dull and more closed off. Good lighting is key for making sure you and your space look camera-ready. Getting a desk lamp is a practical form of task-lighting that can also add a splash of color.

11 Get a plant.  Plants take up minimal space and are aesthetically pleasing to be near. They also help with air quality in the house and give you something to tend to during the day and on your breaks. They can provide a visual mini-break that gives your eye a rest from the computer screen. This mental break can be just enough to regain your focus and get you back to concentrating on work. If your office is near a garden or has a view of trees, keeping the blinds open is a cheap and effective alternative.

12  Declutter.  Remove any distracting material and mess to create an optimal mental state. Anything you are not using on a daily basis should be stored and put away neatly or discarded. Focus on keeping the bare essentials around your workspace. You can even make time for decluttering by scheduling ten minutes a day to tidy up your desk and surrounding area.

13 Determine When You’re Most Productive. Are you a morning person or a night person? When you feel awake, it can help boost your productivity. For example, if you love quiet mornings and feel focused in solitude, try working on more challenging tasks as soon as you start your day. Many of us feel tired after we eat lunch and the afternoon hours hit, so consider answering emails or making phone calls at that time.