Tips on how to work from home
Working from home is becoming inevitable for office workers as the coronavirus pandemic spreads — here are some tips on how to do it effectively.
Work from home survival guide
Brut spoke with Melissa Smith, a remote work consultant, about the best tips and tricks she recommends for working from home.
“The best routine is the routine that works for you”, Melissa Smith tells Brut. Personal disciplined home working routines should vary depending upon your line of work and with whom you may share tasks and responsibilities. Ms. Smith suggests using the time of day when you’re most focused, analytical, and alert to interface directly with people or tackle anything requiring urgent notice, whether that be in the AM or PM.
Set rules with your kids, partner, and roommates
Setting guidelines and establishing schedules when sharing your space with others is crucial to settling into this sort of routine. Consider “designat[ing] a closet or a smaller room as the phone booth room or the conference room and start to schedule out those calls so that everyone knows” when you will absolutely need to be offline from duties of home life. A warning or heads-up to those sharing your space as to when you need silence or more internet bandwidth will go a long way toward avoiding tension or conflict.
Dress up or dress down
Wardrobe decisions may seem trivial when working from home, but you may be surprised by how much they can impact personal productivity. Checking with employer guidelines is a good place to start, as many companies who hold video conferences will expect a level of decorum to match that of their normal office environment. “You never know when you're gonna have to get up and walk around or change a cord or just do something and I don't want to ever be in shorts or in sweats” while teleconferencing.
Avoid burnout at all costs. Be sure to set aside time for a virtual lunch or chat. Allow yourself five to ten minutes every couple of hours to get a bit of housework done or walk your dog. Given the situation in which many find themselves professionally, “it's a great time to see about joining Slack groups and side channels to meet other people and have virtual coffees or cocktails or lunches.”
When working with others from your home, your schedule needs to be shared and clear with others in an effort to work best for you while synergizing with others. “You need to over-communicate and the way that you communicate needs to be very, very specific.” Using words like "please," ‘thank you,’ and ‘you're welcome’ may seem like a small thing, but it makes a huge difference when lacking the context of being in the same space as someone else. Beyond that, for brief and succinct messaging something like instant messaging and Slack is most appropriate, while more detailed or sensitive communication, emailing or using secure servers is paramount.
Set boundaries for yourself
Opposite from the procrastination end of the work from home spectrum is the equally common overworking issue. A hard cut-off time may be the most important thing to adhere to. The tendency to overwork given an always-connected lifestyle is a very common pitfall. Find your stopping point and allow yourself to put all that away. The work you do tomorrow will benefit.