Maybe you’ve just started a brand new remote job because you wanted more flexibility in your professional life. If you’re still hunting for a remote job, you can find openings through Search Remotely! Or perhaps your employer has just given you permission to work from home, and you’re excited to cut out your commute and start tackling projects from home.
Either way, you’re looking forward to all of the perks that come with telecommuting, but you’re also nervous about some of the changes that this new arrangement will bring. Here’s how to make the most of your remote work situation, from staying productive to setting boundaries to designing your home office.
Establish a Workday Schedule
Now that you are working from home, working from anywhere or reporting to a coworking space, you have lots of freedom to determine when, where and how you will start, begin, and finish your workday. As you jump for joy with the freedom and flexibility that tele-commuting brings, don’t forget that the traditional 9:00am to 5:00pm workday does not fall by the wayside. In fact, it often means you remote workers must be more diligent in sticking to a workday schedule and routine.
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So, take the time to jot down on a sheet of paper, or on your favorite scheduling app exactly how you plan to spend your working day. For instance, here are suggested starting points.
- 6:00am- 7:00am wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast
- 7:00am- 8:00am check mobile work mails, prepare children for school
- 8:00am- 11:00am prepare daily ‘to do list’ before turning on work computer, check work calendar for upcoming virtual meetings, return emails, and work on tasks assigned.
- 11:00- 12:00pm take lunch break
- 12:00pm- 3:00pm review daily ‘to do list’ group tasks by (a) in progress, (b) completed and (c) not started and prioritize planning for tomorrow’s ‘to do list’
- 3:00pm- 5:00pm check and send reply emails, review again for urgent messages and revise ‘to do’ list accordingly
Now that you have a rough boilerplate of your daily schedule, insert your own pre-planned breaks for those personal interruptions that are bound to occur. Determine whether the mid-morning or mid-afternoon period are suitable depending upon your company’s work culture and work flow.
Create a Functional Home Office
You might assume that you’ll be able to work efficiently if you just bring your laptop to your kitchen table. But truthfully, having a comfortable home office is the key to being a successful remote worker.
When it comes to home office design, you might not know where to begin. Start by choosing a space to dedicate exclusively to work, and then pick out the furniture you’ll need. You will definitely want to invest in a desk, a supportive ergonomic chair, and a few storage options, which could include a filing cabinet, floating shelves, or a bookshelf. Foyr also recommends hiding any cords behind your furniture, adding a floor lamp or desk lamp to light up your space, and incorporating a few pops of color into your decor.
If you’re working from home full-time, your home office can easily get messy by the end of the week. On Friday, set aside a few minutes at the end of the workday to tidy up your office space. That way, your office will be fresh and clean for Monday morning. You don’t want to start off the week at a cluttered desk!
To make sure that you are in a working frame of mind, consider posting a visuals throughout your home office work space to remind you and others that your time is not your own. Some suggestions would be to:
- Post a physical work calendar on the wall or desk
- Hang a chalk, white or dry erase board to post a ‘to do’ list for the day or the week
- Use magnets, stars, or labels and stickers to incentivize yourself for work completed
- Purchase a bookshelf to keep relevant work related reference guides, manuals and books handy
- Post motivational pictures and posters
- Hang a mirror in your work area so that you can check your appearance before and after virtual meetings
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Ergonomic Design of the Working space
A study of remote workers and the way in which they designed their home office ergonomically article appeared in Frontiers of Computer Science. Researchers found that workers who worked from home modified their working space in these ways:
- Locating a quiet space in a corner
- Purchasing a desk or work table and chair
- Setting up desk near a wall with a window to maximize exposure to natural light
- Buying a laptop riser or tray to improve desk/table height to chair/couch ratio
- Buying more than one monitor and preferrable one with a large screen to minimize eye strain
- Utilizing a visual and physical barrier (bookshelves, screens) to minimize interruptions and visual distractions
- Setting up items throughout the work area: decorative plants, de-stress balls and even musical instruments for visual relief and entertainment
- Painting work areas or selecting workspaces with walls painted a neutral color
Use the Right Organizational Tools
Your physical office space should be organized – but your digital life should be organized, too! As a remote worker, you’ll want to take advantage of the many organizational tools at your disposal so that you can stay on track with all of your projects. Your employer may onboard you onto a few software programs that they need you to use. Additionally, Thrive My Way recommends utilizing project management software, a cloud storage program, and a time tracker.
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Try Meal Prepping
When you worked in an office, you might have enjoyed going out to eat on your lunch breaks. Perhaps your workplace even had a cafeteria or a few chain restaurants on-site where you and your coworkers could grab a bite to eat. Now that you’re tele-commuting, you can save money by cooking tasty home-cooked meals for lunch! Meal prepping is a great way to ensure that you’ll always have tasty lunches throughout the workweek. You can meal prep recipes that create several portions on the weekends and then store the food in your fridge or freezer.
For instance, productive and top performing remote workers prepare family meals on the weekends (Sunday), pack them in Ziploc bags and place in the freezer for storage. Others working from home cook a big batch of stew or soup, separate portions and store in the freezer.
During the week, just heat up a serving when it is time to eat. Plus, preparing meals before they are needed helps you to stick to a healthy diet and reduces the urge to graze throughout the entire day (even when you are not hungry).
Take Breaks From Your Computer
There are definite advantages to working from home. However, remote workers often can feel as though we are chained to our chairs and attached to our computers all day long. We may feel compelled to stare our computer monitors 24/7.
As we work from home, we are no longer required to walk from our desk, head to the conference room to attend meetings in person. While we may have dreaded and complained about them then, as we look back they offered excellent excuses to walk away from our cubicles and offices. The traditional office also provided avenues for us to go out for lunch with coworkers and pop down the hall to chat with our colleagues.
For these reasons, it is really critical that remote workers are strict about implementing routine breaks throughout the workday.
First, take a look at your schedule and note when you need to be present at your desk for meetings or other time-sensitive engagements. Then, determine when you’ll be able to take your lunch break each day. Aim to block off an entire hour for lunch, and don’t eat at your desk! Instead, head into the kitchen to break up your screen time. Furthermore, take brief screen breaks during the workday to avoid eye strain.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Sometimes, people who switch from working in an office to workingfrom home feel like it’s hard to separate their job from their personal life. Suddenly, you’re living and working in the same space. Plus, the fact that you are no longer commuting does mean that there will be upwards of one (30 minutes each way) to sometimes five hours (2.5 hours each way) per day that you have available to commit to your employer.
Also because we carry our Smartphones around with us, and even sleep with them, remote workers may have a difficult time turning off their notifications at the end of the day. At a minimum, it is suggested that the volume of the notification sounds are turned down at the end of the work day.
If you’re not doing anything after work, you may feel like you should just get a head start on your to-do list for tomorrow. While this is a preferred habit of top performing remote workers, it isn’t something that is advisable at all times or burnout will ensue. We suggest that top performers contemplate the peak and down cycles in their industry. For instance, tax accountants are busiest from December to May; so they would need to maintain a hectic schedule during the peak tax season and establish a more balanced schedule during slower periods.
In any regard, when you work from home, make a clear commitment to shutting down your computer at the end of your workday and then stepping out of your home office and closing the door.
Reduce Workday Stress
Even though you’re working from home, you’ll still deal with stress during the workday. Yes, remote work can eliminate some forms of stress – but that doesn’t mean that every day will be easy. To keep your stress levels under control, you might consider using part of your lunch break to do yoga or take a quick walk around your neighborhood. Moving your body can help you clear your head and let go of your worries!
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When you worked in an office, you might have gained lots of social connections through your job. Perhaps you befriended your coworkers, got to know your manager on a personal level, or even made friends throughout different departments as you took on new projects. Now that you’re working from home, you may feel a little lonely at times – even if it’s easier to concentrate in a quiet environment, you might miss the camaraderie you once shared with your coworkers. Why not suggest hosting a social event after work, like a happy hour get-together? This will help everyone get to know each other better and give you the chance to meet new people!
Adjusting to a remote work arrangement takes time. At first, you might struggle to maintain a sense of structure throughout your day when you’re not in an office environment. But within a few weeks, you’ll be able to nail down some productivity strategies, draw clear boundaries between your personal and professional life, and keep up with healthy habits during your downtime!
Are you looking for a remote job? Kick off your job hunt with Search Remotely! Visit our website today to start browsing remote job openings.