working from home - living room

Six Ways to Improve Working from Home

Make the most from working at home with these practical (and playful) tips

Working from home can be a difficult task for someone who is accustomed to a workweek routine. Gone - temporarily - are the days of commuting, 6:30 gym classes, and co-workers at arms-length.

Many people find comfort in routines and the transition to work from home culture where there may be an absence of structure can throw some people off. Here are just a few ways to ensure working from home feels balanced and productive.

Creating your workspace

For many, proper in-home offices may not be an option. Set up your own work area where it makes the most sense; tucked away in a secluded and distraction-free part of your home. Find a spot fit enough for a small desk or table, set up your area with proper materials, and make sure there is adequate lighting for future video conferences.

Your bed and/or couch might sound tempting, but remaining professional even from home may hold the key to productivity.

Tip:

If you really want to take your makeshift home workspace to the next level, there are a few online companies that sell small tents to enclose your workspace. No, really.

Establish office hours

Define working hours, break times, and set project completion goals. Actively communicate with your manager and colleagues and keep a list of to-does. Personally, I find checking off accomplishments for the day makes it feel more like a complete workday.

Tip:

Take advantage of Google’s Calendar feature to set your work hours. It lets your teammates know your availability and provides visibility on your tasks. If you’re working closely with another colleague, Trello is a great (free) PM tool.

Eliminating distractions

This might be the hardest step to achieve: eliminating distractions. It’s tempting to reach for the TV remote to put on The Food Network or tackling that pile of laundry, but don’t! Try to stay in your designated workspace during business hours to focus on work.

Utilize your designated break times to get all of your non-work activities done - checking social media, doing your laundry, walking your dog.

Tip:

For homes with pets, busy streets, or needy little humans, background noise can be combated with noise-canceling headphones. If you work best with background noise, there are a few YouTube stations with music and sounds created to fill the empty space around you and help with creativity and workflow. I recommend this 24/7 live stream station of Lo-fi music.

Virtually socializing

In addition to setting aside time during the day to have your entitled lunch or a snack break, it’s incredibly beneficial to have some time to socialize, even virtually. Set up a time with a close friend or two, to detach from work and connect with others.

You may even find it beneficial to have a virtual “water cooler” talk with some of your colleagues.

Tip:

Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facetime, and Houseparty are all ways that you can interact with your friends and family from virtually anywhere. Seeing other faces after looking at your screen for a number of hours is refreshing and gives you time to talk about things other than work.

Exercising

Lastly, to keep yourself sane, and to stay healthy, let’s get physical! Set aside some free time each day to do something active and stimulate the blood flow.

Going for a short walk or run during the day will restore some energy and clarity. If going outside is not an option, some popular fitness instructors have introduced live stream and virtual workouts.

Tip:

Popular California-based choreographer, Ryan Heffington, offers dance sessions via Instagram five times a week to combat the lockdown blues. Other online movement classes include yoga and pilates with Y7 Studio and cardio with Rumble Boxing.

Recharge after work

A study from Undercover Recruiter found that checking on work emails after hours may be detrimental to your mental health.

Separating work and home hours establishes the tone for your productivity both personally and professionally. It has a positive impact on your mental health, giving yourself the opportunity to disconnect from work life and relax, socialize virtually, and recharge.

Tip:

Fight the temptation to open up your emails after your established office hours and give yourself some time to unwind by silencing work emails if possible.

We’re all in this together

Now that your living room has been transformed into your new office workspace, use these suggestions and get the most out of the workday from home.

Remember to keep a routine, write all of your tasks down, and overcommunicate with those you are working closely with.