How do you survive working remotely?
Whether you have made a conscious choice to work remotely or it is a new policy of your company, the outcome is the same – your home is now your workplace. The first thing you’re going to need to do is to make sure you’re technically equipped to accommodate this. You might be thinking to yourself ‘Awesome, I can just stay in bed and work from there all day!’ but if you have video meetings, being in bed is not going to be a good look.
Anyways, lying down while working is not healthy – what you want is to have a desk or table to work at. If you have a separate office room, this is great, but if you don’t then at least try to make a space that you consider your work zone. This will help you to separate your work life from your home life, which is incredibly important for your well-being.
Factors you should take into account in your home office space are the amount of light it has, and what kind of chair you are using. If you can sit beside a window, this is ideal – the natural sunlight will help to lift your mood too. If a window seat isn’t an option, it’s recommended that you use cooler lighting as this can make you more productive. Also, given that you’re going to be seated for a large portion of your day, it makes sense to invest in a high-quality and comfortable office chair – your back will thank you for it later.
There is a popular meme that alters Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to add wifi to the bottom of the pyramid, making it more important than everything, including food and shelter. This might seem like an extreme joke, but when it comes to working from home, a stable and reliable internet connection is just essential.
If you’re having a Facetime meeting, there is nothing worse than having the video freeze (usually when your face is stuck looking stupid – why is that?!), and when this is the main way you’re going to be meeting with other team members, you don’t want to be the person who is always dropping out of the conversations.
There is a high chance that you share your home with other family members or with roommates. In this situation it’s really important that you communicate and set boundaries to stop things going awry. Other people might perceive you as being ‘home’ and not at work, and available for social interactions and interruptions. We’re all seen the viral videos of kids charging into office rooms in the middle of a video conference (and even live news broadcasts!), and while they are super cute, it can also be disruptive and appear unprofessional. To avoid this, communicate a set work schedule to your family and roommates and let them know they can’t interrupt you during these times.
Setting a work schedule is also important for yourself. When working from home without strict set hours, it can be tempting to be too flexible with your schedule, maybe starting later and working later. Also, when you don’t have to finish a task before you leave the office, that lack of pressure can lead you to always think there is more time to finish it, and you inadvertently end up working later. In fact, many employees report working longer hours at home than at a physical office. Avoid this by setting your hours and sticking to them. These hours will help you get into work mode more quickly, and they give you an extra sense of separation from your work at the end of the day, helping to avoid burnout.
If you can’t work from a separate room or you have to work in a shared space and find external noise to be a distraction, it can be a good idea to invest in some noise-canceling headphones. These will block out a lot of the outside world, and also leave you free to listen to whatever you want. Of course, the biggest distraction for everyone is probably social media. The temptation to scroll through Instagram and TikTok is very strong, and without the watchful eye of your boss or other co-workers around you, it can be easy to succumb. If this is a problem for you, then try putting your phone onto ‘do not disturb’ mode so that you don’t see notifications, and you can also use your web browser to block certain websites.