Working from home or remote work presents its challenges and opportunities. Here are six proven tips to help you successfully work from home. These tips are useful whether your remote work is because of challenging times or because you’re a distributed worker.
Working from home tip #1: Have the right tools
You cannot do your job effectively without the right tools. This applies if you go into an office or if you work from your house. Make sure you have the proper tools you need to do your job, including your home office setup and the technology you choose.
Invest in a proper home office setup if you can. The right work environment should include a suitable desk, chairs, monitors, Wi-Fi and any other hardware you need to get your job done. The perfect home office isn’t always achievable. But, investing in a few small items can make a big difference.
For example, consider purchasing some lighting, microphones and headphones if you’re routinely on video conference calls. You should also consider purchasing ergonomic accessories like wrist protectors that make the physical act of working at home more comfortable.
Additionally, establish you have the right software tools for the job if you can. Tools like Microsoft Teams were built with remote working in mind by combining chat, meeting, calls and collaboration all in one place.
Working from home tip #2: Be secure
Remote workers should take particular care that they’re remaining secure, both physically and digitally.
From a physical perspective, be aware of your surroundings when you’re dealing with sensitive company information. This precaution is especially important if you prefer working in coffee shops or coworking offices. Some best practices include locking your computer when it’s not in use and not discussing sensitive company details on calls in public.
Additionally, you must make sure the tools you use have security in mind. These safeguards should apply to your secure email, a VPN, productivity tools, cloud storage and any digital tool you use for work. Remember, the average cost for a cybersecurity attack for a small business is $188,000. It pays to factor in security when you’re choosing your tools.
Working from home tip #3: Communicate effectively
It sounds basic to say, but one of the biggest challenges of working from home is that you’re not in the office. That means you may not hear the hallway conversations, the chatter before and after meetings and you can’t just pop by Jane’s desk for a clarifying question. Your business communication skills are always essential, but especially so when you work remotely.
It’s vital to communicate with your coworkers or employees in a clear manner. Try not to leave room for ambiguity about your requests, and don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. You can do this via email, chat or through a phone call.
You may have to “over-communicate,” and that can feel awkward for some. But, it’s better to over-communicate at the front-end to ensure there’s alignment.
Working remotely typically means you have the flexibility to handle personal tasks like childcare or doctor’s appointments during the day. Just be sure you’re communicating that to coworkers and employees who rely on you.
You don’t have to divulge every personal detail. Just remember to update your Out of Office messages, as well as your status on any chat system. Your availability and status are especially helpful if others rely on your decisions or approvals to move forward with projects and tasks.
Working from home tip #4: Connect with coworkers
Your company culture is a decisive factor in attracting and retaining employees. This involves a lot of things like compensation, working conditions, industry and the day-to-day interactions with employees. That last part can be different for a remote worker.
If you’re working from home, you’ll likely have to make more effort to connect with coworkers and employees. Simple things such as asking how things are going before a meeting starts and being genuinely interested goes a long way. These “small talk” moments can create deeper connections between workers.
Find other opportunities to engage in “water cooler talk” or to appropriately “goof off.” Stay within proper boundaries, of course. But, nobody minds when you talk about the latest football game in the office for a few minutes. Likewise, you can sometimes engage with employees or coworkers through chat rooms about things that aren’t strictly related to work.
Working from home tip #5: Find a proper work-life balance
There are many great things to working from home: flexibility, no commute, and in some cases, increased productivity. But, one of the downsides is that some find it hard to disconnect from work.
Remember to set boundaries
It’s tempting to work around the clock when your home is your office. But, this can be counterproductive. Studies suggest overwork can lead to less productivity, worse project outcomes and even adverse health outcomes.
Finding a proper work-life balance is key when you’re working from home. Some tips for maintaining this balance:
- Making time for exercise or physical movement, if you’re able to
- Scheduling breaks on your calendar and taking them
- Indicate your off-line hours in your calendar and chat tools
- Take time to unwind outside of work: pursue your hobbies, spend time with family, make plans with friends and occupy yourself with things not work-related