12 Remote Work Tips: How to Work From Home Like a Pro

12 Remote Work Tips: How to Work From Home Like a Pro

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In the days of coronavirus curve-flattening, many workplaces have switched to full remote work. Which means some of us are working from home full-time for the first time — and we could use some tips.

With the world turned upside-down, adapting to a new mode of working is the last thing you should be stressed about. If you’re new to working from home, keep calm and read on.

WorkTango’s flexible workplace gurus offer this wisdom and these 12 tips (plus bonuses) to make working virtually your new normal.

1. Keep your routine

It can be tempting to lounge on the couch in pajama pants while working from home. Resist the urge.

Following your normal morning routine helps you get into the headspace for a day at work. Plus, in these uncertain times, your brain craves certainty and familiarity. Sticking with your normal routine helps frame your day so you’re starting off on the right foot.

2. Get in the zone

A good pair of pants will only get you so far. Here are our bonus life hacks for getting in the work mindset:

Keep swag from your organization within sight. For example, switch to a branded coffee mug while working.

Tidy up. Get your space ready just as you would if you were going out to work. It might mean making the bed, “picking up” a bit or taking out the trash.

Put on your shoes. Make it a daily ritual that signals you’re “on”. Taking your shoes off at the end of the day cues your mind that it’s now time to relax.

Use the door. You can go out and come right back in, take a five minute walk or even drive around the block. Physically leaving helps replace the workday boundary of the daily commute. When you come back in the door you’re “at work” for the day.

For bonus remote work tips and philosophies for managing remote teams, check out our article, 8 Tips for Managing Remote Teams Like a Boss.)

3. Establish a separate workspace

This was our remote workers’ top tip for success. Especially since coffee shops and co-working spaces are temporarily out of the question, having a dedicated workspace — not your kitchen table, gaming table, or couch — is important for getting in the zone.

It also helps you mentally disconnect from work at the end of the day, which is integral to your work-life balance.

Especially now, when many of us are working remotely for an indefinite period, it’s important to block out home spaces you can just live in and enjoy — and not have to associate with work.

4. Upgrade your workspace

This can be easy to overlook, especially if your work-from-home setup is temporary. But you’re still spending 8 hours a day in your home office. Do yourself a favor and invest the time to:

Clean up. A messy workspace is distracting and suppresses morale. (On the topic of morale, get a houseplant — seriously.)

Level up your cable management game. Same sentiment as above; now with reduced tripping hazards.

Prioritize ergonomics. Take care of your body, you’ll need it in the coming apocalypse. (Just kidding.) But seriously, don’t mess with carpal tunnel.

Get noise-canceling headphones, especially if you don’t have a door you can close for concentration and privacy.

Spark joy. Hang photos and posters, populate your desk with favorite things — just like you’d do at your regular office.

Need more tips for setting up your work environment? Check out this guide from TimeDoctor.

5. Set firm boundaries around work time

This is the mental side of the physical boundary-setting you’ve been doing. It can be easy to just keep working when home and work are the same place. Don’t do it. Set your work schedule and stick to it.

Determine a firm start time and stop time. Don’t give in to the temptation to get online before or after. If you break your own rules in this area, extra stress is sure to follow.

6. Take a real lunch

Stepping away from the computer for lunch while you’re at the office is a proven workplace morale booster. When you’re working remotely, it’s even more important to reinforce that work/life boundary.

If you eat your lunch at your computer inevitably, you’ll end up working while eating, and it won’t feel like the break it should be. Try leaving  the house and not taking your phone with you during lunch breaks.

7. Over communicate with your team, and use multiple channels

If you’ve ever squinted at an email, wondering if Kyle in sales is trying to sound like a jerk, then you know the challenge of text-only communication. Now more than ever it’s important to go overboard to make sure you and your team members are communicating clearly. Touch base frequently (and also kindly). We’re all stressed out, and putting a little extra thought into your tone can go a long way.

As a bonus, use multiple channels for communication. Some people absorb information best via structured emails; others prefer stand ups, Slack, Zoom or other video calls. Brush up on our tips to bring your best self to 1-on-1 Sync-Ups.

8. Be active online

It can be easy to go dark while working from home, especially if your team relies on face-to-face communication in the office. Be diligent about communicating with your coworkers for fun, not just work, even if it feels forced or unnatural at first. Why?

Your day-to-day office interactions, even the water cooler “hellos” are a part of your social life. And without them (especially in the era of social distancing), your morale can start to tank — even if you’re an introvert. So lean into the Google Hangouts, video chats and GIF wars. They’re like vitamins. They’re good for you.

9. Get proficient in your team’s project management software

Been putting off those Trello tutorials? Wringing your hands over Wrike? Now’s the time to buckle down and get fluent in whatever project management software your team uses, so you can keep that teamwork flowing. (WorkTango can keep remote employees aligned on goal setting and tracking, too.)

10. Turn your notifications ON…

for your calendar, email, chat programs, project management tools, and more. That’s obvious, you say. No one would ever miss a remote meeting because they had their notifications turned off,. Just to be safe… go check those settings. You’ll thank us later.

11. Create boundaries with housemates

If you, like many of us, are working from home with partners, family members or other housemates — especially those who aren’t working — it’s important to set expectations early about sharing space and time.

Hard-but-important discussion points:

  • What are our working hours? What do we need (quiet, space, etc) in those hours?
  • Where in the home is a social space? Where is a private or work space?
  • What time do we spend together during the workday?
  • Who cares for dependent children/pets and at which times?
  • How do we communicate boundaries? (e.g.,., Does a closed door mean “leave me alone” or simply “knock first”?)
  • Do we need time to unwind after work before socializing with each other? If so, how much?

12. Get fresh air and exercise

It can be easy to just plop down in one spot and tap away for hours without ever looking up. A couple of 20-minute breaks can make you more productive – and happier. Walk around, take the dog out,, pull a few weeds, enjoy being at home.   .

We’ve reached the end of our remote work tips. So head outside. Fresh air and exercise offer big physical as well as psychological boosts.