Working from home may seem like a lonely endeavor. You are away from the energy and sometimes free lunches brought into the office. You don’t experience many water cooler moments, and it can be difficult to figure out those voices on the other end of the phone.
I, however, enjoy working from home. I have worked from home for about 10 years now at different companies. I believe I am more productive and enjoy the extra free time to get personal things done throughout the day. When working from home, I have the luxury to not need to commute to and from work, which gives me anywhere from an hour to a few hours of my day back.
Here are my top 10 tips to survive working from home:
Put on real clothes – In order to not feel like a schlub every day and to help me feel like I am going to work, it's best to get up and get dressed like I normally would. I skip putting on shoes, but I do put on make-up in the morning, in case there is an impromptu video chat some time during the day.
Avoid TV – I avoid watching any TV, unless I am taking a full lunch break. This is the only time I will allow myself to turn on the TV throughout the day. I believe this is one area some people may have issue with. It’s a trap and a time suck, so it's easier to just not turn it on.
Align your day with other team members – If you are working with a team of others who may be back at the office, or live elsewhere, it may be a good idea to align your day with them. Try to take a lunch during the same time. It totally avoids frustration if you are trying to work and waiting for a response from others who may be out to lunch.
Stay active on Slack – One way to continue feeling part of the team is to try to keep up with some of the non-work specific slack channels. Having some conversations about your favorite shows, or a random meme can be fun, and it can feel like some of those fun conversations you'd have with teammates at their desk.
Periodically check in with your boss – So they know you are still alive. I'm kidding...kinda. It is good to setup a weekly one-on-one meeting to receive feedback or seek out a quick chat over Slack. This helps to feel you are not forgotten. If you are the only remote employee a boss can be busy with other team members and you may get left out of some of the in-person meetings. Checking in periodically with your boss throughout the week, and other team members for that matter, can help you stay up on any meetings. Also, don’t be afraid to ask to be included in the meetings. Trying to get others to make it a habit to loop you into meetings is important.
Take Walks – Now, since you have the time back from not commuting to and from work, there is no excuse not to take that 30 minute walk each day. I am talking to myself here…YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES!
It's OK to go out to lunch– I do find that I have to remind myself that people that work in the office go to lunch all the time, so why wouldn’t I even if I work from home?! Some of the companies that I worked for in the past had issues with remote employees, so I got in the habit of feeling that I needed to be at my desk, available, all the time. This is not the norm any longer. It’s a nice treat to go out to lunch and get away from the house.
Throw in that batch of laundry – It's ok, don’t feel guilty, throw in that batch of laundry before your next call. This will give you one less thing to do when you get home from work...eehhh, walk down the hall after work.
When needed, travel to the office – Face time is still really important. Working in those video chats can help, but showing up to the office once a month, or once a quarter can help establish those relationships with your boss and co-workers.
Don’t be lazy – Just because you are at home and the boss can’t see you, doesn’t mean you can be lazy. You need to show your work. Because your boss can’t see you, there may be a tendency for them to wonder what you are doing throughout the day. Make it easy for them by contributing. If you have many clients and are busy all the time, this may be less of a requirement for you. However, if you have less client work, it is good to volunteer for those internal projects, or to help other co-workers with their work. Show your boss that there is benefit to you working from home.
TOOLS I USE WHEN WORKING FROM HOME
Stand Up! – I started using this app over a year ago. I found that I would sit at my desk at home for hours on end and feel like I molded into the shape of my chair. This app allows me to set a reminder on my phone every 30, 60, 90 min to stand up. I can set it up during working hours, and I have gotten in the habit of using my standing desk more when the reminder dings.
Pandora – I like to listen to music if I am having to do any type of documentation. I tend to listen to a random 80s playlist. I have had many years of practice ignoring the 80s music in the background. In fact, Def Leppard is playing right now…
Slack – Having slack on my laptop as well as on my phone, helps me stay connected to people at our office headquarters.
There are so many perks for working remotely, but for me, working from home means establishing some sort of routine to help keep me on track each day. Time management is key! How do you survive and thrive working as a remote employee? Tell me in the comments below or tweet them!