Some people have been working remotely for years. Others can point to the exact day they started logging in from the kitchen countertop “for a few weeks.” The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the American working landscape for good, and whether you love it or hate it, remote work is here to stay. Despite the change, expectations from employers remain the same, no matter how many furry new coworkers you have. So with your productivity (and sanity) in mind, here are KSL Jobs’ top 10 pieces of advice for working from home.
1. Get ready like you would for the office
If you like having a morning routine, keep it. If you like sneaking in an extra snooze, sneak it in. The important thing is to do what’s always worked for you and your productivity in the morning, even if it has to be the “at home” version. Instead of listening to the radio on your morning drive, listen on your morning walk instead. Instead of making small talk in person, make it over instant messenger — or even better, with the neighborhood dogs.
2. That means putting on real clothes
No one else will know if your business casual outfit gets much more casual off camera, but that’s not the point. No matter how good your button-up/sweatpants combo may feel, it’s really not doing you any favors. Getting dressed like you would for a normal day helps set a psychological boundary between work and relaxation that will not only help you work harder during the day, but also chill harder once you log off.
3. Make a to-do list at the beginning of your day
The benefits of a morning to-do list are twofold. It puts you in a goal-oriented mindset first thing in the morning and also helps replicate some of the built-in accountability of an office environment. Who’s gonna know if you continue last night’s binge watch while working? You are, and the act of creating a physical list to keep you accountable will help you save the shows for later.
4. Designate a workspace (and protect it)
Having a space that’s only for work can help you define the lines between work life and home life, and thus the lines between workday stress and post-work relaxation. Having your own separate workspace can also reduce household distractions, so long as you clearly define your expectations of privacy to any family or housemates. Of course, if you find you work best by posting up all over the house like a cat searching for a sunbeam, then explore away.
5. Dress your child/pet like your boss to hold you accountable
OK, so this probably won’t work, but it will be really cute.
6. Don’t be afraid to take breaks
Whether you prefer scheduled breaks or like to take them as needed, occasional breaks are a great way to keep your mind fresh and focused. And don’t be afraid to take a break with a capital “B.” Having a focused activity — reading a book, playing a video game or picking up an instrument — can help you give yourself the mental rest you need. A favorite activity of the KSL Jobs crew is stepping out for a nice walk, especially in the winter months when sunlight is scarce.
7. Reduce distractions
Distractions are easier at home, where no one knows that you’re scrolling through Facebook and playing Minesweeper (you should probably update your operating system by the way). Consider installing plug-ins that block social media and other distracting sites during work hours to reduce the temptation to surf and scroll the day away. Keep your workspace free of distractions like TV and games and close tabs when not in use. Out of sight, out of mind.
8. Learn your coworkers’ preferred communication style
A key difference in remote work is the absence of quick and casual conversation. When you can’t pop into a person’s cubicle or office, a whole host of questions arise. What’s their favorite way to communicate? When is the best time to reach them? What’s the fastest way to tick them off? Answer these questions before they arise by simply asking. This will help you avoid miscommunications and disagreements and help the flow of information go as smoothly as possible.
9. When in doubt, over-communicate
When communicating virtually it’s best to err on the side of caution and share as much info as possible, unless instructed otherwise. Information has a way of being passed around in an office that might not translate to the digital space, so if you think there’s something someone needs to know or see, don’t be afraid to share it, even if it might be old news. And if you think you see any miscommunication brewing, just pick up the phone; hopping on a quick call can clear things up a lot faster than 200 IMs.
10. Set work hours
In terms of working hours, remote work should feel like office work. (Only in terms of working hours — don’t go around asking your family if they have “a case of the Mondays.”) Setting work hours and communicating them with housemates helps you get started on time and leave work at “work” when it’s time to sign off. Working too much at home can lead to burnout. Having the same boundaries you did in the office will keep both your home life and work life healthier and happier. So leave work behind when the day is done and enjoy that commute to the couch.
Looking for remote work? Search KSL Jobs for your next work from home job and put your newfound skills to the test.