19 Working From Home Tips [Effective & Productive]
In the light of global challenges, more and more people have started working from home in 2020, and the trend continued strongly in 2021; and even with the end of work at home orders in 2022, more people work from home than ever before.
Work from home orders and higher demand in internet-based work came surprisingly fast. Working from home to such an extent was unimaginable before, and it is now a fixed component in our daily lives.
Individuals and companies did not have much time to think about the best ways to transition the working process, motivate people working from home and prepare for suitable working environments.
Those who started with their working from home lifestyle quickly realized that it is needed to change daily routines working habits to make working from home a real success.
Each of us faces notable challenges working remotely. That’s not only because of different personalities and lifestyles but also because of our individual discipline and experience. However, many of the main issues remote workers face are similar.
Every remote worker has to test the boundaries between personal life and work. It is key to figuring out where to work when to work, and how to schedule the day. It is also essential to think about office technologies, infrastructure, career development, communication with colleagues, etc.
This article provides 20 helpful working from home tips, statistics and productivity insights to help you kick start your career as a remote worker.
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Make Time Management a Priority
1. Build a Morning Routine
Deciding to sit down at the working desk and start working at a particular time is one thing. Building a routine that guides you through the day is another.
A morning routine is more powerful than starting without a plan for each day. There is typically one specific thing that indicates that your working day begins. It might be getting dressed, bringing kids to school, returning home after doing sports, making a cup of coffee, or tackling the to-do list.
Looking for existing habits helps to define the remote-work start of the day. For example, when you go to the office, the day often starts with the way to work via car, bus or bicycle, and with working from home, you need to define exactly this one specific behavior.
2. Commit to Regular Working Hours
Define regular working hours and stick to your plan whenever possible. Having apparent approaches for when to work helps many remote workers maintain a good work-life balance. One of the top advantages of remote work is flexibility. Sometimes it’s helpful to change the working hours to accommodate someone else’s time zone working globally. But such a change is not suitable for everyone. Before starting your job, make sure to clarify at what time your colleagues work.
It’s crucial to stick with the defined regular working hours like it would be being in the office. 9-5 is your typical schedule in the office? Working from home should not be different then. You enjoy working late at night, well, especially with remote jobs, you can do precisely this.
Things are possible that we never thought they would be. Use it to your advantage!
3. Schedule and Take Breaks
You typically know the break times and take them if you work for a company. However, things can be tricky at home since you are in your private environment, and time can pass by fast.
It’s important to give yourself adequate time to walk away from the desk, computer, and phone throughout the day. A minimum of one lunch hour and two or even three 15-minute breaks should be planned.
For computer-based work, which is standard for remote workers, it’s beneficial to stand up and move to get the blood circulating from time to time. An adjustable height desk can work wonders. It also helps to move your eyes away from the screen here and then and focus on other things in your room for a few seconds.
When it comes to breaking times, it’s important to commit to them for the full duration. There will always be something to work on, but it now has to wait. Now it’s your free time to relax and to gain energy again.
You can set a timer on your phone. That helps you keep track of the break, especially since your break may not always start at the same time every day.
4. Have a To-do List Ready
Everyone knows about to-do lists, but only a few are using them. Yet, to-do lists can make life so much easier being an index of tasks to be completed at a specific time, organized in order of priority.
Working remotely suggests you keep track of how you spend time of the day.
Creating a to-do list would efficiently track progress and guide what to do next. You can then do the more urgent tasks in your productive hours while completing the easier things, for example, after lunch.
Of course, you can prepare the list as per your preference and with your favorite tool. It can be via a mobile app or on the refrigerator (old school). Every task gets a priority. The critical ones get the highest priority and are working on them first. Then, as you complete one to-do after another, check them off the list. That’s a good feeling and indicates that you are making progress.
This keeps your focus stable and makes the work appear doable. This way, you have a clear path on what to do next.
- Have a to-do list because keeping track of multiple details in your head is not always easy
- Create it systematically in a way you understand
- Share the to-do list with your coworkers to let them know what you accomplished
Working from home needs holding yourself responsible for every minute of your assigned work. Scheduling and prioritizing work helps achieve the best results.
5. Minimize Distractions
There are lots of potential distractions when working from home. Some of the most popular ones are multimedia, snacking and other people at home. Try to stay away from those distractions. For example, keep your telephone aside, avoid snacking throughout the day since it is not healthy at all, and have a room far away from family members.
Working time is working time, and any distraction costs you productivity and risks the success of your working progress.
Also, leave the TV turned off and avoid streaming in the background of the PC. Also, skip the news ticker, and catch up later if needed.
Distractions can easily double up the time you need to get things done since you always have to rethink a topic, start over and over again, and you might feel uncomfortable getting back to work if the distraction is too tempting.
6. Celebrate the Successful Day
You started your day with a specific routing, and your day should end with a similar idea behind it. Create a habit that signals the finale of the workday and celebrate success like finishing a sports exercise. You archived a lot during the day, and now its time to call the day quit.
Celebrate with something you like. It can be a cup of tee, a call with friends, going out to meet friends or an at-home yoga class if you want.
Your body and mind will thank you for having such well-scheduled behavior starting the remote workday and ending it. So, whatever you decide, do it consistently to celebrate the end of working hours.
Enjoy Working Together
7. Let Others Know That You Are Working
When everyone is in a meeting room, everybody’s voice will be heard, and it is easy to indicate that you now have something to say. In digital meetings, it’s different. Voices can be unheard, which can lead to a sense of alienation from supervisors and coworkers.
That’s why it is important to actively participate in online meetings, interact, and even demonstrate that you can lead through meetings.
When a meeting begins, make sure you speak up so that everyone knows you’re there and turn your camera on. At a minimum, simply say “Hello” at the beginning of a meeting and do some socializing if possible by entering the meeting a bit earlier if that is an option.
The same goes for the work throughout the day. If you have the chance, give your supervisor a call to update him on your progress chat with other coworkers to show that you are active and interested in collaboration. Make sure that others know that you are online.
8. Socialize With Colleagues
Isolation, disconnect, and loneliness are common problems these days for remote workers. As a result, companies with an established remote work culture usually offer ways to socialize. For example, that can be messaging apps like Webex, Skype, or Microsoft teams. Those tools help to talk about common interests, catch up with others, socialize or organize meetups for others in the same region.
Everyone is different, and not everyone likes to interact permanently. So, identify your comfort zone. For example, how much contact did you have working in the office? How often did you go out to drink a beer with colleagues? When do you have a good feeling?
It can be a good feeling to interact more with colleagues and meet up in a restaurant, bar or cafe.
If you’re working in a company without established remote culture, you likely have to be more proactive about building relationships.
As much as messaging apps are great venues for interaction with coworkers, they also create distractions. Keep that in mind, and don’t feel bad to turn off the messaging features if you won’t be distracted working on an important task.
9. Be Mindful and Respect Each Other
Successful remote workers are known for being extremely disciplined. Discipline helps to focus on things like it would be from an unconventional space. The daily routine needs to be organized, meetings have to be made in a timely manner, the to-do list needs to be worked on, and breaks have to be made to find the right balance.
But it’s human if attention drifts sometimes. You remember something important about something that needs to be done for your family, you have to make an appointment with someone else, or you want to research for the next vacation. All this is okay as long it does not happen permanently. If you were in a local office, those things would happen too. So don’t be too harsh to yourself. Things like that are natural and okay. It’s important to keep the feeling of pressure on a low level to avoid the risk of burning out. We all need to extend this same kindness and forgiving attitude to our clients, supervisors and coworkers. We all live in a hectic world. Things develop faster than ever before. It is okay if you take a breath, and it is okay when others do.
Use The Best Possible Infrastructure, Workplace & Technology
10. Have a Dedicated Office Space
In the best case, remote employees have a dedicated office space and a separate computer for remote work. This has multiple benefits. First of all, work is clearly separated from private things. Also, it is more secure for the employer. A separate room and separate PC for remote work ensure high security standards and low distraction, and concentrated work.
But not everyone has a separate room to use as a home office or multiple working devices. Sometimes it needs to create a place within your living room where you can work but still be separated from private habits. Make sure to create an environment where you enjoy working. Keep in mind that private things should stay private, and working-related things are separate.
If you only have one computer, create another profile to log in. This profile does not have all those potentially distracting favorites in your browser, no private apps etc. Instead, software and tools like the Zoom client are installed. And once you are done working, you shut down the PC and start again by logging in with your private profile.
Making even small matters of differentiation between private time and work time helps you improve your work-life balance because work and free time are clearly separated.
11. Use High-Speed Internet
As much as you love working at your own pace, a poor internet connection can get frustrating and make your day a real challenge.
What happens if you lose your internet connection while attending the most important meeting of the day? And what if that happens multiple times? It can be a very embarrassing situation, and it might lead to misassumption by others.
An excellent internet connectivity is a must-have these days and one of the key tools for remote workers. Make sure that the internet connection is stable. If your wi-fi quality within the house is not that good, make sure to get a repeater or use cables. Combining a reliable network and a long-lasting system helps make your remote work a full success.
If everything works well, be happy that it is the case. If problems accumulate, make sure to analyze the potential causes.
Measure with online tools how fast your internet connection is, check the ping and if things look good, check the wi-fi quality inhouse.
If it turns out that the provider is the problem, compare plans of alternative providers and test if possible their network before changing the provider.
If something else is the potential problem, get recommendations from friends and peers. Ask them for help if you can’t solve it. Often the solution is simple, and a conversation can help solve the problem quickly.
12. Have a Separate Phone Number
Work is work, and free time is free time. Set up a new phone number that you only use for calls with clients and colleagues. It’s a number where others can reach you during working hours. It can be a landline or a separate number for mobile. It can also be a voice-over IP service like Skype and Google Voice. The key part is that this number for work-related things is separate, and once you stop working for the day, the free time begins – no more business calls, just private things. If you make a mistake like being available in your free time, you permanently will get such calls. Keep that in mind.
A separate phone number ensures a great work-life balance.
13. Use a VPN
As a remote worker, you for sure enjoy the flexibility to work from everywhere. It can be at home, but sometimes you might want to go to a cafe or library, or you are on travel in a hotel. If those locations offer free internet, great! But often, those connections are unsecured. Everyone can access it, and some people know how to get hands-on your data in such unsecured connections.
That’s where the virtual private network comes into play. The VPN secures any connection. So if you log in to an unsecured network, the VPN builds a tunnel to secure your data stream.
As a general rule, make sure to use a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic whenever you use an unsecured internet connection.
A VPN also has other benefits. It typically does not track your browsing behavior, and you can simulate logins from other locations. For example, if you are in Canada but want to log in from an IP in America, that’s what a VPN is good for.
14. Stay Away From Your Private Phone
If your private phone is next to you, you will look at it – permanently! Avoid that! Leave your phone in another room, don’t care about the newest Insta Stories, WhatsApp messages or similar. Of course, things might be different if you need to be able to answer the phone in case you have kids in school or if there is something urgent. If that is the case, it helps to use a specific ring tone for the important calls so that you know when it’s urgent. You know what this point means, make sure to find the best possible solution for it.
Interact, Communicate and Keep Learning
15. Answer Business Calls and Emails
Remote and online work changed the way of feeling about time. Time has a more important role than ever before. People often expect immediate answers, similar to knocking on your office door and directly asking with a direct reply. Is that fair? No, it’s not, but that’s how it is, and you have to make the best of it. You need to know the expectancy and clearly communicate what you need to identify the urgency of a matter.
Does the company you work for have clear policies about things like that? If not, make sure to clarify with your colleagues what they should do to signal the urgancy. Some people might feel uncomfortable waiting 1 day or longer for a response, but they might not express that they need the answer now. Talk with them by phone and find a way to handle such requests in the future.
We all receive tons of emails every day, and it is crucial for remote work success to coordinate things. If you are not sure how urgent it is to answer an email, ask the sender. Also, make sure to answer calls when they come in and if you missed it, call back.
16. Communicate With Others
Working remotely requires extensive communication. You don’t see people on the floor in the office building to say hi and talk about basic things. Instead, everyone with remote work is isolated at home, maybe in a co-working space to work remotely. But the point is that the interaction with others is entirely different from being in the office.
So pick up the phone and keep in contact with coworkers, say hello to your boss, let others know that you are available and also inform them about your plans. If you are in an online meeting talking about the tasks you work on, tell others what you archived and what you are working on next. Celebrate success.
17. Ask if You Need Help or Guidance
If you’re employed by a person, firm or organization that offers work-from-home infrastructure, request the equipment as soon as you know that you are going to start working from home. If you do it once you start, then it’s too late. You need to be prepared, you have to test, and only once everything works properly, then you are ready to go.
It’s key to ask early enough so that your employer can take care of everything. Things don’t happen overnight, but everything is possible with the right plan and time management.
Thinks you might ask for are the computer hardware with a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and a printer. Your company might even go that far and offers a desk and chair for your remote work.
It is also okay to ask if there is a budget from the company if you buy all those things or bring your own device. The company might also partly, or folly compensate you for internet access.
How do you know? Ask!
18. Never Stop Learning
When you’re not in a local office with your colleagues, you might miss out on skill development. Training often takes place locally in the office, but if you work remotely, things are different. You are at home, in a co-working space, coffee or even in another country.
But it is crucial to keep learning.
Ask your boss what training courses are available. Many are online these days. They might not have the same quality as being in a room with other people participating in a course, but online coaching is better than nothing.
You might miss out on a great opportunity to learn new things and keep trained for the job.
It’s likely that your company offers free access to one of the online learning sites. Maybe it’s even possible to get a one-on-one in-person training or course as a remote worker.
The company wants to have skilled employees, and it will be highly rewarded if you show your willingness to attend training courses.
19. Keep a Positive Mental Attitude
Remote work is different in many ways. But a positive mental attitude will help you in all aspects of life. For example, a positive tone in conversations is as much important as a positive tone in emails and messages.
Make a smile while working to give your work a positive spirit.
Bring your positiveness to others and demonstrate that you are a person everyone enjoys working with. No one likes people who are continuously negative about everything. It is more fun to work with people who enjoy their job – be it in the office or remotely. And the more you give, the more you get back.