I have been working from home for almost 5 years. Before that, I worked remotely on occasion, however, working full-time requires that some basic rules are followed in order to stay productive and be successful. Given the recent increase of people working from home due to the spread of COVID-19, I wanted to share what I believe are the fundamental tenets of remote work…
create your space
Invest in a dedicated workspace that functions the way that you need it to in order for you to work comfortably. This may seem painfully obvious yet I have worked at enough startups to witness how people can think that a laptop is equal to an office. For full-time work, especially when you’re at home, you need a space that you can separate from the parts of your life that are not work related.
Get a desk, a nice office chair, maybe a green plant. There is no excuse because it’s a tax write-off. Well, maybe not the plant.
Also, I am not a fan of work clothes for working at home. One of the perks of being at home is that you don’t have to dress up. That said, do get dressed every single day. Put pants on, make your bed, brush your teeth. Make your workspace, physical and mental.
find your people
Everyone’s personal mix of introversion and extroversion is different. No matter where you happen to fall on the spectrum, you are a human and do require some interaction. About once a week, I like to grade papers in a coffee shop or go out with a colleague or friend.
You know how often, or not, you need to be around others. At a minimum, you do need to ensure that you are getting some face time with other people. Especially on a professional level.
Join a networking group, attend industry-related happy hours, find a mentor to collaborate with, go to a conference, join toastmasters, spend a day in a co-working space… do something out of your office regularly that is work-related and with other people. Unless you’re sick or quarantined, then stay home please.
manage your schedule
You need to understand how you manage your time. Some people prefer having set hours, perhaps that is Monday through Friday, 9-5. If this works for you that’s great, set appropriate boundaries with your clients, use your out-of-office, commit to your schedule.
If you are the type that works on and off around the clock, commit to that schedule too. When you are working, focus on work and commit to it. If you’re not being productive, use your time wisely by taking classes or going to the gym. I tend to email with my students and clients at all hours of the day, so, I balance this out by making myself unreachable when I need a break.
Know how you need to manage your time so that you are productive and are not burning out. Find your balance, and set firm boundaries with those that need to know.
Ultimately, it comes down to organizing three things: space, people, and time.
Just like the rest of life, you have to intelligently manage these things in the way that best serves your personal requirements. In order to do that you must understand your needs, and you must structure the foundation of your work in the way that will best serve you.
If this sounds obvious to you I hope that this post reinforces your foundation for your working environment, or, perhaps serves as a reminder to re-evaluate the structure that you’ve built your success upon so that it remains strong.
Although, if you’re new to working from home, if you master these three rules you will be better off for it. And, if you’re looking for more guidance check out these tips from http://www.remote.co, a great resource for remote workers. Working remotely allows for a lot of freedom so long as you set yourself up correctly for the work part.
Good luck to you!