I’ve started my career in a fully remote company, back in 2003. This wasn’t too common at the time but, 16 years and lots of network advancements later, working from home has become one of the most popular perks companies provide and fully remote companies are no longer an oddity. After some years in a regular office environment, I’ve recently resumed working that way a lot more often as well. Here are seven tips I’ve picked up during my experience with it.
1. Find a spot for meetings
While working from home, you’re not restricted to your desk. Working on the couch for a bit is fine. If you have a balcony and it’s sunny outside, working a bit from there is also fine – whoever’s reading your email won’t care about it. However, you need to get a good quiet spot for meetings. You need to be able to hear what the others say, and they need to be able to hear what you say. Remember that, if you attend from a noisy place and nobody can understand what you say, you’re not just wasting your time, you’re wasting your co-workers’ time as well.
2. Have a backup Internet connection
This is something that’s been useful a couple of times for me. When working from home, you’ll be relying on your Internet connection. If it fails, your productivity will be affected. So, having a backup connection is important – it can be something as simple as having your phone as a mobile hotspot. You probably won’t need it, but if you do… you’ll be glad you planned for it.
3. Take breaks
It’s easy to forget taking a break when you’re working on your own, so make sure you don’t. When working in the office, standing up and moving away from your desk every couple of hours or so is important. You should exercise the same discipline while working from home. Stand up and walk around a bit. And I’m not talking about just walking to the kitchen to fetch a snack, I’m talking about actually walking around for 10 minutes. Do you have a dog? Here’s a great opportunity to go for a walk. He’ll love it too!
4. Know when the day is over
Just like taking breaks is sometimes overlooked, so is the end of the day. When you’re at the office, it’s easy to know when the day is over: you need to catch the bus, your colleagues start leaving, the lights get turned off… there can be lots of pointers. When you’re at home, you don’t have those reminders, so it’s easy to just keep on working past regular hours, with no need for it. Don’t. You need to know when to end the work day. You work/life balance will appreciate it
5. Be disciplined
In my experience, in the beginning, it takes a bit of extra discipline to work from home. It’s easy when you get used to it, but those first few days may require some extra attention. Ensure you stick to your schedule and that you’re focused on the task at hand. It’ll become second nature after a while.
6. Ensure you communicate clearly
There are advantages to talking to people face to face, that you won’t have when working from home – even if you use video or voice calls. This means that you need to be careful to ensure you’re communicating clearly. Although, to be entirely honest, this is one advice that’s useful in an office environment. Odds are you’ll have to work with someone who’s sitting in an office in another part of the world… and there’s also the possibility that your colleague sitting across the room simply prefers to ping you over the chat, rather than walking to your desk – open space offices being a catalyst for face to face communication is one of the IT world’s biggest fallacies.
7. Enjoy the benefits
Working from home has its benefits. Enjoy them. You don’t have to waste one hour on the morning commute? Enjoy the extra sleep. You’ve got a kitchen nearby at lunch time? Go for a home cooked meal. Enjoy the little things, and improve your work/life balance.