Work from home and do it right with these five tips
A great home office requires careful planning and preparation in order to make sure you are productive and efficient when working from home.
Having a work from home job sounds like a dream come true to many of those suffering through painful commutes or mind-numbing, unproductive workspaces. Working from home means freedom—from traffic, from noise, from distractions. With more than 8 million Americans working from home every day, it’s time to take a look at how we can make those work from home spaces comfortable and conducive to great work.
If 8 million Americans already work from home, we wonder how many of them could improve their home office, minimize distractions and maximize output. With them and you in mind, here are our top five tips for the WFH workforce in 2020. Here’s to your success!
1. Prepare the right tech
When you work from home, a reliable Internet connection is a must (a fiber connection is even better). A good computer, a quality webcam, and an updated mobile phone are obvious pieces of tech you will need to work efficiently from home and online with other members of your team.
Make sure you stop by your work IT department before you start working from home to ensure that your personal or work computer has all the necessary software installed. You should have everything you need, including access to your IT team should anything go wrong. You may need to use applications that require a secure connection, in which case you will need to acquire a VPN before you start. This is in the event that you need access to confidential work files or systems while offsite.
You may need:
- A work computer
- Webcam and headset
You don’t want to be at home, ready to work and realize you need to go into the office just to deal with a tech issue that could have been avoided or easily resolved with the right contact or piece of equipment.
2. Get the right tools
Alright, so you’re all plugged in and ready to log on. It’s now time to check if you need some updates and tools for your phone or tablet. Of course, Ting Mobile is a great service for those who work from home, but applications can help too. Managing your time or your team with apps can minimize the amount of effort you spend on activities and administrative tasks that waste time and suck the creative energy right out of you.
Apps like Google authenticator to make sure you get into all your accounts. Use 1Password to prevent getting locked out of applications or forgetting all the passwords your IT department told you to remember but refrain from writing down. If you were thinking that there must be a better way right, well you were right, there is. And that way's name is 1Password. Once you get used to using it, you won’t remember how you managed without it.
Staying in touch with colleagues while you work is better done on something you can have on your desktop so you can put your phone away and focus. An app like Slack or Asana will help you manage projects, stay on top of your tasks and keep conversations on-task when checking in with colleagues and avoiding unnecessary meetings or calls. A tool can help you see if you or teammates are on track to meeting your goals and give you a snapshot of everyone's day or workload.
You may need:
- A project management tool
- Team communication software
- Google authenticator
- 1Password to keep track of all your passwords
3. Create the right space
Setting up a proper workspace at home is integral to your success but it doesn’t mean you have to break the bank buying expensive furniture or equipment.
You should appoint a designated space in your home that will be for work only. Ideally, this space will have some natural light and be far away from your bed. An uncluttered desk or table and a comfortable temperature will also help set the right atmosphere.
That being said, and depending on how often you plan to work from home, a decent, ergonomic chair could be a good investment. This is a chair specifically designed to promote healthy posture while seated - which in turn helps productivity and focus. Who knows, it may be possible for your company or employer to purchase one for you should you be working from home daily. If that is not an option, there are affordable foot pads and back or neck rests that you can buy to place on a chair you already own.
You may need:
- A good chair
- Backrests, neck rests, foot stools, etc.
- An uncluttered desk
- Natural lighting
- An enclosed space/room
4. Practice self-discipline
Working from home requires focus and discipline. Working while sprawled out on floor cushions might seem like a great way to start your day but we can guarantee you won’t be comfortable for long. Your elbows eventually hurt and floors are hard by nature.
A designated space to work in and proper technology are things you need to physically work but without proper mindful planning and scheduling, you might get lost as your day progresses. Making a work plan, a list of goals for the day and listing the amount of time you allot to each task will help you stay on track and will be imperative to your success. You will need a start and end time as well as scheduled breaks for lunch and coffee, tea or snacks.
You may need:
- A list of tasks
- Scheduled and timed breaks
- A door that closes (honestly, never underestimate the power of a door)
If your family or roommate is at home while you are working, make sure that they are aware of your schedule and refrain from distracting you.
Every distraction, even a quick pop-in to say hello or ask a question, delays workflow by 23 minutes! Try to explain to others in the home that you will have time for them immediately after you log off, since you will be skipping a commute and all the annoyances associated with transit, traffic, weather and errands on the way home. You working from home is not an invitation for friends and family to impede on your employer's time.
5. Have the right mindset
Working from home is meant to help you be more productive and focused - not throw you into vacation mode. The best way to start the day is to get dressed and keep a schedule as you would in the office. Pretend that you are actually at the office - if that means you get up to get a coffee at 10:15 am and talk to yourself in the kitchen, so be it. Just make sure it’s a quick coffee break, not something that extends right into lunch.
The privilege of working from home comes with the knowledge that you will need to deliver. When working from home create a list of Dos and Don'ts for yourself. You know what a good use of time is and what isn’t. You know what’s good for you and your work and what isn’t. You know what’s honest… and what isn’t.
Here’s a list for you to adopt for now and revisit as you get used to working from home.
- Make sure you have an amazing Internet connection at your home or wherever you are working from
- Make your bed and get dressed. This is a normal workday.
- Take the allotted amount of time for lunch and go outside if possible.
- Remember to take breaks - get up from your desk every hour or two to stretch your legs and have some water.
- Set up music/radio/background noise if that helps you focus
- Make a schedule and stick to it
- Watch TV
- Work from the couch, bed or floor
- Let family or friends distract you
- Snack all day
- Get distracted scrolling through social media or personal emails
- Do random, personal errands
What are some other great tips for productive work-from-home days? Let us know what helps make your WFH experience a positive one in the comments below. If you're looking for more tips, check out these work-from-home tips from the Ting Mobile staff.
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