As more organizations are shifting to a work from home model as the world navigates COVID-19, we pulled together some tips and tricks to be just as (or maybe more!) productive when working from home.
In addition to these tips, if your company is new to work from home, GitLab’s Guide to All-Remote is a great jumping-off point as your team gets ready to go remote.
1. Create A Dedicated Time and Space
Everyone knows that a healthy work/life balance starts with setting boundaries for yourself, like leaving work at the office. But what about when the office is your couch? When working from home the temptation to spend the day working from bed or on the couch is very strong. But that’s a slippery slope.
Be honest with yourself – can you really do your best work slumped down in bed, relying on your trackpad, and with no second monitor? Probably not. Even more importantly, if you spend all day working on the couch, where do you go at the end of the day when it’s time to unplug and relax? Nothing is more #awkward than to get to the end of the workday, ready to close the laptop and relax than to realize you’ve already been planted on the sofa for eight hours.
Try to find a dedicated space within your home to spend during the workday that is distraction-free. This might be a full-blown home office, a desk in a guest room, or maybe it’s just the kitchen table. If your work from home situation is temporary, find a space that can act as a “flex area” where you set up your workspace during the week and can tuck it away for the weekend.
2. Dress the Part
Just like trying to work from the couch or the bed, spending your work day in your jammies probably isn’t helping to get your head into the work game. Yes, elastic waist bands and flannel are headliner perks for the WFH crowd, but save these for an occasional “treat yo self” like on a Friday morning as your enjoy a cup of coffee and catch up on emails. Getting up in the morning and getting ready for work helps us maintain a routine and reinforces work/life boundaries. Your brain says “We put on work pants to go to work. We put on sweat pants to relax on the weekends.”
Now, don’t panic, you don’t have to do full business formal, but at least put on something that qualifies as “real clothes.” Jeans and a t-shirt is just fine. The point is to have a routine in the morning that lets your brain know it’s time to work. It’s also worth noting that as more companies are moving to a work from home model, video chat will become more common. You will at least want to be “business on the top, jammies on the bottom.”
3. Have the Right Technology
These might seem like no-brainers, but it is always good to double-check to make sure you are set up for success when working from home. A few things to look for:
- Can your internet speed support everything you need to do for work?
- Do you have an external keyboard and mouse?
- Do you have a second monitor and the right cables to hook it up?
- Does your computer have a built-in webcam, or do you need an external one?
- Is your chair comfortable for sitting at a desk for an extended period of time?
In addition to the right equipment, it’s also important to have the right software to keep your team connected. Here are a couple softwares to talk to your boss about if your team begins to work from home:
- inMotion ignite is a marketing and creative workflow automation and project management platform. ignite helps teams manage creative projects from request intake all the way to final deliverables. With collaborative features embedded at every stage, ignite brings down silos between teams, no matter where they are located.
- Slack is an awesome chat application that allows team members to stay connected effortlessly. In addition to basic chat, it has other useful features like reminders and gifs to keep the conversation flowing in the group chat.
- Dropbox, or other cloud file storage solutions, make it easy to keep files accessible to everyone who needs them.
- GoToMeeting and other web conferencing apps are great for allowing teams to still meet regularly even when they are all in different places.
4. Stay Connected
When we work from home, we aren’t getting face-to-face time with our coworkers, so we have to put in some extra effort to maintain our collaborative relationships. A few tips:
- Get on the phone. Chat is great, but there is so much non-verbal communication that we lose when we rely on text. Plus, hearing voices makes conversations so much more personal and authentic.
- Add in some FaceTime. Video chats are not always the most popular, but just like phone calls, they add a personal touch and do an even better job of closing the distance between you and your coworkers.
- Make time for fun. Send your coworkers a short, silly video of your cat chasing his tail, or your dog sitting in your chair like a person. Find virtual ways to celebrate accomplishments, birthdays, and work anniversaries! We have these sorts of casual, non-work interactions in the office, and they are part of what forges our relationships with our coworkers – don’t neglect them when working from home.
5. Take Breaks
Working from home can be amazing for your productivity. You can sit down at 9 AM, start powering through tasks without the “pop by” requests, and then look up only to realize its 3 PM. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, though. You can suffer from burn-out if you work like this. Instead, plan regular breaks where you really step away from the work and do something else completely unrelated. Go for a walk, listen to a podcast, or put in a load of laundry. Do that for 10 minutes, then come back.
Before you start feeling guilty for taking a break, remember two things:
First, you were going to take just as many breaks, probably more, if you were at work. A recent study out of Stanford found that employees that work from home are more productive than their in-office counter parts:
- Telecommuters in the study experienced a productivity boost equivalent to a full day’s work.
- Telecommuters in the study also took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off.
Second, and more importantly, you need these breaks. Plenty of studies, like this one from Tork, find that sitting alone in your house typing like that cat in the gif for 8 hours a day is not realistic or desirable. You’ll ultimately be more productive and happier if you find a few times in the day to take a step back and rest for a minute.
Working from home can be fun, convenient, productive, and is becoming a reality for a lot of organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. These tips and tricks can help you keep things business-as-usual when you work from home.
Elise Hauser is a product and content marketer with a passion for telling brand stories. She has produced inMotionNow’s annual In-House Creative Management Report for 3 years, webinars, content sessions for major industry events reaching audiences of 1,000+, and of course, countless blog posts. When Elise isn’t writing about the marketing and creative industry at inMotionNow she is teaching economics and hanging out with her cat, Tucker, at her home in Raleigh, NC.