I have been working from home, the majority of the time, for over 5 years. It took a lot of adjustment, and I’m still not 100% adjusted, but if you want to undertake this, then these are my tips.
Note that a big part of the benefit from working from home is the total flexibility in work environment, so these are only tips that work for me – they might not work for you! However, I think there is probably quite a bit of commonality.
1) Find some way of exercising.
I’m incredibly bad at this usually, but not due to lack of understanding! Lately my under-desk bike that allows me to work while cycling away, has been very beneficial. I also don’t own a car, so this increases the amount of walking I do (if I don’t get an Uber, that is).
Realistically, you probably want to adopt some kind of regular exercise routine that is out of the home, in order to get yourself out of the home and also exercising regularly. This is even more important now you work from home.
2) Have a room for your study.
I know this is difficult in a lot of situations, but really, if you are going to be working from home regularly over your career, you really need your own study area with a door that shuts. It doesn’t have to be a big room, just enough for your desk. It should of course have a window, my study has a south facing window which is great because I always get a window seat!
3) Make your own lunch.
There is still the temptation to get your own sandwiches delivered if you live in a big city like I do, but really you want to make the most of the huge savings you can make on your lunch every day, and make your own sandwiches.
4) Get enough sunlight.
I am lucky enough to have a garden, but when you are working at home and living at home, you will almost definitely spend less time in the sunshine. I make an effort to spend 15 minutes in direct sunlight every day, to help vitamin D absorption and to combat the winter blues. You probably additionally want to be taking vitamin D supplements during the winter months as the NHS recommends for everyone.
5) Make use of your freedom.
Most employers I’ve had will not care if you take a 30-minute nap during the day, as long as you don’t miss any meetings. This gives you a huge advantage over keeping fresh and alert and doing your best work over office workers. They might be tired during the day, if you’re tired, you can take a power nap. Make sure you don’t abuse this privilege, and it will help you, and your employer, as the work you do will be of higher quality.
6) Don’t use your work computer for personal things.
Not only is it unprofessional, and traceable by your employer, but you can easily keep a computing device near to you when you work from home to do all your personal stuff on.
7) Customize your desk environment.
I have a standing desk with a CD player, record player, a surround sound system, a personal computer, a fan, an ergonomic chair, and under desk bike, and a foot cushion to put my feet up when I want. I recommend NOT relying on your workplace to give you any money for your working from home environment, spend your own money, and don’t skimp, see it as a long term investment. I also recommend getting an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, and a BIG screen – mine is a 32″ graphic designers monitor. Why not make your work environment as nice as possible, now you can?
8) Have other places you occasionally work from.
I can work from my garden during the summer months, I have a sheltered gazebo, an external waterproof plug socket, and an external network cable. Have other places you can work from, even if it means a coffee shop. That will improve your productivity if you feel yourself stuck in a rut.
9) Don’t get distracted.
Remember you still have to DO the work! Actually you may have to work slightly harder in fact, because statistically remote workers are more judged on their productivity level than in the office. Things like pomodoro timers may help. I have a pomodoro timer, and also use my Amazon Echo Dot to set arbitrary quick alarms, so I can impose deadlines on myself to get things done. I also have a TODO list, that helps.
10) Make sure you have friends to talk to.
Working from home 100% can be a bit isolating, so I have friends external to work that I message during the day, some of whom also fully work from home. Do talk to your colleagues as well of course, but also have people you can call or message from time to time, just as you would have the odd quick chat in an office to your friends.
Also remember that pets are a lot more of a viable commitment now you work from home. Dogs can be very useful in particular, as they combine getting out of the house with companionship.
I hope these tips have helped you. I really couldn’t go back to working in an office. Working from home full time is one of the best things that has happened to my career.
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