Technology shapes how we work, learn, play, and connect. In 1997, a decade before Steve Jobs introduced iPhone to the world, around 7 percent of employees in the U.S. worked from home at least once a week. In 2010, this number rose to 9.4 percent. As of last year, the number of people who telework “at least several times a month” in some European countries is over 20 percent.
Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a whopping 64 percent of U.S. employees are working from home.
Essential workers often don’t have the flexibility to work from home—we commend these heroes.
Many of these people will return to their offices as the global climate settles. But for some, working from home is the new normal. It can seem like a dream—no lunchbox, no commute, and more autonomy. As nice as it is to work from home, it comes with productivity pitfalls and emotional challenges.
Here are 10 tips to make your remote work a positive and fulfilling experience.
Sadly, taking a spa day isn’t on the list.
Tip #1 – Switch Gears
The human mind is an amazing machine, capable of triggering body processes based on the context of your environment. To make the most of your work day, perform actions befitting a productive mindset: dress up, check in with coworkers, and settle into projects like you would at the office.
Tip #2 – Define Your Time
One benefit of remote work is being closer to family, roommates, or your bestest, floofiest friend—for better or worse. Set expectations for the times you won’t be available, or when you’ll have meetings. On the flip side, you can spend lunchtime and breaks catching up and genuinely connecting.
Tip #3 – Review Your Schedule
At the beginning of each day, review your to-do list and carve out time for tasks and breaks between meetings. After the working day is done, make your list for tomorrow and then—most importantly—step away from your workspace. It’s just as essential to get out of the zone as it is to get into it.
Burnout is too real.
Tip #4 – Invest in Your Space
If you’re working remotely for the foreseeable future, an investment in your home office will pay dividends in productivity. An ergonomic office chair promotes good posture and prevents back pain. Bright, cool lighting increases efficiency. And, depending on your type of work, a professional-grade audio mic and broadcast lighting will make you the star of your next video call.
The right office chair makes all the difference.
Tip #5 – Keep Distractions Off the Desk
Some cubicles overflow with flora and fauna, while others are enveloped in a rainbow of sticky notes. Maintaining a home office in your unique way keeps you focused and fulfilled. Everyone has their own organization style and tastes in décor—the key is to make your workspace work for you.
Tip #6 – Take a Break
In an office setting, spontaneous conversations happen between meetings, you make trips to the watercooler, and spend time walking around the building. At home, it’s too easy to let an afternoon slip by in isolation. Stand up often, perform functional fitness exercises, and practice deep breathing to maintain your Zen.
Functional fitness at home has its own challenges.
Tip #7 – Drink Up
Staying hydrated keeps your mind sharp and productive. It’s also one of the easiest healthy habits to let slip. If you feel thirsty, it’s already too late. Have a collapsible water bottle handy, and set reminders on your phone to refill it three or four times a day.
Tip #8 – Cut Yourself Some Slack
Not every Thursday is an amazing, kick-the-doors-down, get-it-done kind of day. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it, and take advantage of mental health resources available to you. Your coworkers care, even at a distance.
Tip #9 – Use Those Vacation Days
Remote work can make you feel like staycations are off the table, or that you should multitask by working through family activities. Remember, you can—and should—make use of your time off to recharge. Even if you spend vacation time at home, keep the laptop shut.
Tip #10 – Enjoy Face-to-Face Time
We need connection with others to thrive. Instead of shooting out a Slack message, call your coworker. Turn on your video feed during conference meetings. Devote your whole self in the time you spend with family. FaceTime a good friend, or tag-team an online video game.
Do Good Work Every Day
No matter where or how you work, you can accomplish great things. And while working from home isn’t exactly the dream for many people, you can find a silver lining with the right habits in place. If you work from home, what does your space look like? And what tips do you have for others looking to rock the remote lifestyle?
About the Writer
Candice writes about healthy living, health science, and lifestyle topics. Previously, she was a writer and editor covering tech, software, and cybersecurity for a corporate compliance firm. She has a degree in English. She lives in Salt Lake City.