10 Tips to successfully work from home

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

With the current state of affairs, many employers are asking their employees to work from home if they can. If you haven’t worked remotely before, there are a few things to think about as you get started. I’ve been fortunate to telecommute quite often and have experienced both the good and the bad. Here are some tips and tricks to help you work successfully from home.

1. Make sure you’ve got the right stuff. Before you start, make sure you’ve got all of the software you’ll need loaded on your computer. In one of my jobs, I brought in my laptop and made sure the IT department loaded the correct versions of the software we used in the office. Also, ensure you’ve got the right amount of internet bandwidth to support your needs. If your company requires a telework agreement, read through it carefully and ask questions before signing the dotted line.

2. Location, location, location. Find a dedicated workspace in your home which will work for you. It could be a home office, a spare bedroom, the kitchen counter, dining room table — wherever feels best for you. I’ve used the dining room table and am currently writing this from a desk in my living room. However, make it easy for you to shut down and walk away at the end of the day.

3. Rise and shine. As tempting as it is to literally roll out of bed and switch on the computer, try to keep your morning routine as normal as you can. Take a shower and change out of your pajamas. Yes, I’ll admit to attending a virtual production meeting in my sweats and slippers. Even though I was comfortable, I didn’t feel very professional or productive. Once I changed, my mindset changed as well.

4. Stay on schedule. If you normally show up at the office at 8 a.m. and leave at 4:30 p.m., try to stick to it. It’ll make it easier as you start out and a lot easier when you have to go back into the office.

5. Get organized. Calendars and lists will become your new BFFs. Sharing your calendar with co-workers makes it easy to coordinate meetings and to-do lists help prioritize which items are more urgent. You won’t feel as overwhelmed or feel as much of an urge to call it a day early.

6. Schedule breaks. When you work in an office, you often take quick little breaks throughout the day — getting a cup of coffee, comparing notes of “The Bachelor” with a co-worker or just stretching your legs. Be sure to schedule in a few breaks during your day. Take in some fresh air outside, if you can. Or, if you’re feeling extra productive, swap out a load of laundry.

7. Use technology to your advantage. My mother was a field adjuster for a large insurance company back in the 90s. Compared to the tools we have now, she may as well have worked in the Dark Ages. Online sites such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Calendy and more make it so much easier to stay connected remotely.

8. Log out of your social media accounts. Unless your job requires you to update social media for the organization, try to avoid it as much as you can. It’s easy to get sucked in and not realize how much time you’ve spent searching for the perfect cat gif response to a friend. Logging off and removing the sites from your bookmarks can make it a little less tempting.

9. Set boundaries. If you’ve got little ones at home with you, it can prove quite challenging. If your spouse is also working from home, try to come up with an equal care plan with each other. If it’s just you and the kid(s), use nap time to your advantage and knock out a bunch of work. No naps? No problem. Break out coloring books, puzzles, or give in and let them watch a few episodes of their favorite show. If you’re on an important call, find a quiet room and let them know it’s not okay to interrupt. Put a sign on the door if you need to.

10. Keep the lines of communication open. Be honest with your employer. If you need to adjust your schedule to split your shift for family reasons, don’t be afraid to ask. There were more than a few times when my husband was TDY where I’d start my workday at 5 a.m., put it on pause to get my kids off to school and then finish up by the time they’d get home.

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