Remote work has been on the rise for the past few years.
But with the coronavirus pandemic that has emerged over the past few months, and certainly the past few weeks, more and more companies are beginning to move their workforces remote. According to Business Insider, Oracle, Apple, Google, and Amazon have already made the move, paving the way for businesses large and small to follow suit.
For people who are used to working remotely, this may not impact your day-to-day routines and responsibilities. But for anyone who isn’t used to working from home, this sudden shift can feel drastic. All of a sudden, “work-life” and “home-life” are no longer separate. Meetings must happen virtually, communication over text must be taken at face value, and if your significant other is going through the same transition, and especially if you have kids, then you might not even have very much space to yourself.
To put it simply, working from home is certainly possible—and, if anything, is only becoming more and more popular in our hyper-connected world.
But it can be challenging for those who haven’t acclimated to it yet.
If you’re new to working remotely, or even if you’ve been doing it for quite some time now and remaining productive is still a challenge, here are a few things that have helped me tremendously:
1. Just because you have more control over your schedule does not mean you need to be the most productive person on earth.
One of the big mistakes people make as they begin “working from home” is feeling as though they need to set unrealistic expectations for themselves.
They feel like just because they’re now completely responsible for the way their day moves and operates, they need to do so flawlessly. They overcorrect. And as a result, they end up actually being far less effective and productive.
Instead, I have always tried to treat working from home the same way I would treat showing up to an office or working out of a co-working space. Take time to eat lunch. Take short breaks between tasks. Go outside for a few minutes, maybe even take a walk to grab a cup of coffee. Don’t feel the need to work until you go to bed. If anything, try to forget you are “working from home,” and instead just treat the day like a normal workday.
2. When the workday is done, detach yourself.
Similarly to people who are known to “bring work home with them,” you have to resist the urge to remain connected in the early hours of the day or the late hours of the night.
Just because you’re working from home does not mean your workday needs to start the moment your alarm goes off. The same way you would eat breakfast, read, do yoga or go through a morning routine before heading to the office, you need to be disciplined and maintain that same routine while working from home. Don’t just sit down in front of your computer because it’s convenient. Maintain your same healthy lifestyle.
For example, I’ll often try to spend five or ten hours if I can, every weekend, completely disconnected from my phone and computer—because it’s a nice mental refresh from the demands of being an entrepreneur. The same goes for the early mornings and evenings of workdays.
3. Don’t forget about the importance of maintaining and nurturing relationships while working from home.
It can be very easy to forget a whole world exists outside of your home office or living room.
If you are new to working from home, make a conscious effort to continue reaching out to other team members and industry peers. Especially within a company, there is a lot of benefit in scheduling video conference calls with other people to both discuss projects and milestones, but to also just talk and get some social interaction. The same goes for using tools like Slack to maintain relationships throughout the day.
Just don’t fall into the trap of sitting by yourself for eight hours per day, five days per week.
4. Make good use of your downtime, and be respectful to anyone else in your shared living space.
This is especially true for couples and married entrepreneurs.
If you are putting in long hours, and your partner is putting in long hours, that can result in some discontent at home. The key here is getting ahead of these conflicts by making a concerted effort to schedule time with each other, at home, outside the normal demands of work. You can do things like:
- Eat lunch together
- Go for an afternoon walk together so you can both get some fresh air
- Swap working places within the house (one person gets the office in the morning, the other gets it in the afternoon)
- Working out at home together (live stream yoga class, for example)
There are a lot of benefits to working from home. It just takes some getting used to, and some deliberate effort in figuring out what works best for you, your partner, and anyone else sharing your space.