Whether by choice or out of necessity, making the shift from spending your 9-5 in an office environment to working remotely can be a challenge if you’re not prepared for it - but thankfully, there are many ways to help ease the transition.
Here are a few of our favorite tips for working remotely so that you’re not only cozy and happy, but also super productive, too!
1. Clear the clutter.
In your lifetime, you’ve likely heard some variation of the saying, “a cluttered home makes for a cluttered mind.” Well, that’s not untrue! Just think about how you feel when your desk at work is messy, and how much easier it is to be productive when there aren’t piles of papers, a collection of coffee mugs or an assortment of knick knacks in your way. The New York Times has even reported on the effects of clutter and cortisol level.
Keeping your space decluttered is especially important when you’re working from home. Try your best to tidy up your area regularly - but be sure to do it outside of your normal work hours. This will not only help your mind stay clear during the time where you’re “at work,” but will also help you avoid getting distracted during your workday and feeling compelled to tackle that laundry pile or sink full of dirty dishes during your conference call.
2. Create a designated workspace.
Even if you aren’t going to a physical office environment every day, it’s helpful to set aside a separate space that will allow you to get your work done. While it might be tempting to simply plop yourself on the couch with your laptop, think about whether this is the most comfortable long term setup for you.
If you have a spare room that can be converted into an office space, that is a wonderful option. If you have a desk already, set it in this separate room, or you can even repurpose an old table or snack tray into a compact workspace.
While not everyone has the luxury of a true home office, that doesn’t mean you can’t set up an alcove in your living room that’s just meant for work. See if you can repurpose the corner of your kitchen table into a little office nook, or dedicate a section of your living room to be your workspace. This can be sufficient regardless of whether you’ll be working remotely temporarily or for the long term.
3. Bring calmness to your environment.
In addition to decluttering and creating a designated space for your tasks to get done, another helpful tip for working remotely is to use lighting and decor to create a calming atmosphere in your workspace.
- Bring in a desk lamp or overhead fixture for more direct light.
- Add some greenery to help you brighten up your space and freshen the air.
- Hang an inspirational photo or poster at eye level for workday motivation.
- Stash snacks or other treats to help fuel you to conquer all your projects.
- Keep a cozy blanket or pair of slippers at your desk for some comfort.
This can help your space feel more comfortable and inviting, even when you might not initially be super eager to get right to work.
4. Get yourself into a routine.
If nothing else, a 9-5 office job does offer a comforting element of predictability that can help the workday go by more quickly. When you work remotely and don’t actually have to travel anywhere to start your day, it can certainly be tempting to never get out of your PJs - but having a routine can definitely provide some of that stability that leads to a productive workday.
- Start your morning with a cup of coffee or tea, or sit down with your loved ones for breakfast.
- Get dressed into “regular clothes” - while you don’t have to wear your business suit, comfortable clothes (that aren’t necessarily what you wore to bed last night) and a cute pair of slippers can be pretty great to wear to work.
- Take a true lunch break and distance yourself from your computer, if you can, by going for a walk around the block, doing a little stretching routine, or making a yummy salad.
- Cook up something tasty for dinner after you “leave the office” for the day.
As you get used to working remotely, it’ll become easier and easier to create a personal routine that works best for you.
5. Find ways to stay social with colleagues.
Working from home can make you feel more isolated than you’re used to - and that totally makes sense! When you’re home alone during the day, you don’t get the opportunity to bump into your colleagues, chat about the weather, or catch up casually about ongoing projects that you would while in the office. To avoid missing out on these little opportunities to connect with your coworkers, find ways to interact with them online, instead.
- Set up virtual meetings to brainstorm ideas and work through projects that require collaboration.
- Check in with team members regularly, and perhaps set up a special chat room so you can keep the conversation going throughout the day.
- If you normally get lunch with your coworker friends and can no longer meet in person, turn the video chat on and each lunch together while catching up on your lives outside the office.
- Touch base with your manager frequently so you can ensure you’re staying connected as well as in alignment on your projects.
Even if you can’t physically be with your coworkers, there are so many ways to stay in touch digitally. Get creative with how you interact to find the types of communication that work best for all of you!
6. Set a time for your day to formally end - and then stick to it.
Unlike in a traditional office environment where your work computer isn’t typically just a few feet away after hours, when your home is your office, it can be very easy to walk over to your desk to answer that email or quickly take care of that project. Unfortunately, this might lead you to spend longer hours working than you’re used to, and for you to never truly feel like your workday has ended.
It’s important to set boundaries when you’re working from home so that you can “shut off” at the end of the day, and take time to do the things in your personal life that you love. Whether that means closing your computer and setting it away for the night, shutting the door to your home office and not coming back, or just making it a priority to not check your messages until the morning, creating that distance will help you be able to enjoy the company of your family and friends with fewer distractions!
Be Cozy, Be Productive
With more than five million employees working from home in the US, and potentially thousands more making the shift temporarily over the next few months, it’s becoming less and less unusual to see people working remotely. While it might not be the easiest transition to go from working in an office environment to making your home your office, we hope these tips for working remotely have helped even just a little bit!
Do you work from home? Have you ever worked from home? Tell us in the comments!