First, there are other good resources for this as well. Some of my thoughts will be redundant, because some remote work tips are pretty universal. This first post will focus on getting acclimated, and part two will dive into my setup and all the equipment I use.
I have been working exclusively from a home office for the past seven months, and intermittently for a few years prior to that. Overall my individual productivity has increased, but even being an introvert I miss face-to-face interaction with my coworkers. Most of my team was already geographically separate prior to this change, so our collaborative works did not change. If your team is used to working in person there will be some adjustment and probably won’t get to 100% of what’s obtainable in person, but you can get close.
It is important to remember that a lot of time and effort probably went in to how your office was designed. The equipment, lighting, furniture, HVAC, etc. and while office designs have problems of their own, don’t expect your home workspace to be perfect right away. If something doesn’t feel right that’s okay. Take a step back and think through what you can change. When I was first working remote full time it took a few iterations to get everything where it worked well for me.
Keep your work space separate
Most people who are unexpectedly working from home will not have an office setup and ready to go, but it is important to separate your work space from the rest of your home to the extent that you can. Creating that physical separation allows you to more easily create an emotional separation as well. Whatever it is, try to avoid working from your relaxation spaces and definitely avoid working from your bedroom. Being able to leave some of your work stress in one part of the house definitely helps.
Try to find sunlight
I know a lot of people are tempted to locate their home office in a basement or garage, and I had Realtors and friends suggest doing so when I set mine up last year. If you have any alternative, do not do this. Natural light improves our mood, and helps with keeping a normal circadian rhythm and getting quality sleep. If you absolutely cannot work in a space with natural light, put some extra effort into your indoor light. Most basements have awful lighting and nobody is going to be happy working under bare florescent tubes. My office has plenty of natural light and I still augment it with quality artificial light as well.
If you find yourself struggling to remember to get up and stretch, or refill your drink, set a timer or use calendar reminders. It is easy to try to push through the task at hand and I have been guilty of this plenty of times. But we all know the toll extended periods of sitting can take on our health, as well as the drawbacks to being dehydrated. So make yourself go get a water and walk to do so.
Take breaks outside of your workspace
I block time out of my day for lunch and try to take that break elsewhere in the house. Getting out of my office for a bit helps me relax and come back to my work refreshed. It also prevents me from being tempted to engage in more work during my break, which inevitably happens any time I try to eat at my desk.
Related, I try to avoid leaving snacks or food around in my office. It is far too tempting to snack frequently while I work if food is around. My general rule is that if I need to eat something, I have to leave my office to do so.
Set a stop time and actually stop
Without a commute home or other cues at the end of the day it can be easy to forget to stop working. But you need to. Extending the time you work each day adds up, and while there are obviously times this might be necessary just like staying late at the office, it is not something sustainable long term.
Give yourself a few minutes to decompress
While I don’t miss the traffic I used to encounter during my commute, I do miss the 20-30 minutes of music (or podcast) and transition from work to home. Trying to jump straight from a stressful meeting to cooking dinner is not recommended, especially when knives are involved. At the end of my day I put on some music spend a few minutes tidying up my desk and clicking through sports or tech news, and frequently go for a walk or run at this time. It helps me switch gears to being “home” and spending time with my family.
Dial back on the news
While it is tempting to leave a TV on the news while you work, especially now with seemingly hourly changes, I would try to avoid it. Everyone is stressed out enough and hours more of pandemic news will only make it worse. I limit news to two or three times a day. This keeps me updated without being a constant barrage of negativity.
Finally, talk to others in your house about this. Not only are a lot of us suddenly working remote, we’re also trying to do so while sharing a house with others, be them partners, kids, or pets - some of whom may also be trying to work. Being on the same page about boundaries and interruptions is essential, as is being understanding about the changing needs of yourself and others.
If you live alone (and even if you don’t), reach out to your friends, family, and colleagues throughout the day. We’re all in this together and many of us will feel isolated during this time. Our extroverts especially so. Just like you might chat with your coworkers on a break, many of us would welcome the virtual equivalent.