Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, more people than ever were joining the work from home (WFH) revolution.
Thanks to cloud software, smartphones, and the rise of the Gig Economy, it was no longer necessary to commute to work each day. It’s now possible to manage an entire corporation from inside your bedroom while wearing your pajamas.
Whether you’re a WFH pioneer or remote work is a new thing for you, here’s everything you need to know about telecommuting.
Why It Matters Now
Before diving into expert tips on remote work, it’s essential to understand that telecommuting is here to stay. It’s simply not necessary for everybody to go into an office for a standard nine-to-five.
If traffic, corporate politics, and reduced productivity aren’t enough to encourage widespread WFH policy, then maintaining global health is. So, start paying attention and adopting these strategies now.
1. Invest in the Right Work Space
You can use the term invest lightly. You may already have everything you need around your house. You want to turn your home into space where you can work with minimal distractions.
Of course, if you live alone, it is much easier than if you have three kids, a spouse, and some pets running around.
Find a quiet spot in your house that has plenty of natural light. You want to be comfortable, so get an ergonomic chair or stand-up desk. Some other good things to have around include:
- Wireless Bluetooth headphones or a speaker. Make sure they have a built-in mic for all those voice and video calls
- Subscription to Pandora, Apple Music, or another streaming service
- Wireless mouse and keyboard
- Comfy, soft-soled shoes
- Yoga mat
2. Get the Right Technology & Software
The good news is that cloud computing limits the amount of hardware you have to buy. If your company doesn’t provide a laptop for you, then most models in the $500 range should have enough power for most office needs.
Likewise, you can use tools like Google Drive and Microsoft 365 that are either free or inexpensive. The only software you need to pay extra attention to is digital security-related.
Fraudsters routinely hack remote workers for several reasons. Most remote workers have valuable data of their own. Often, they also have access to corporate networks with vast volumes of customers and company information. If successful, hackers can exploit it all. And since remote workers are outside of the traditional security arrangement, it makes them easy targets.
But you can cut the chances of cyber-attack by purchasing a few affordable software solutions:
- You may already have antivirus running in the background. If you use Windows, there’s an in-built one that covers the basic security needs.
- Another excellent software you should enable is a virtual private network (VPN). It encrypts your internet traffic, making it impossible for anybody to see what you do online.
- Password manager. If you don’t use one already, do yourself a favor and get a password manager. You can use it to create and keep passwords for both work and personal accounts.
- Encryption and backup solutions. Finally, you should always back up and encrypt confidential files. It ensures your data stays safe and available even if someone hacks your computer.
3. Separate Your Work and Home Life
When you work from home, it can be challenging to create a clear separation between the two areas. For most people, much work creeps into their time off.
It starts innocuous enough. You might decide to respond to one email at night. Before you know it, you’re working on the weekends and staying plugged in all hours of the day.
It is not only unhealthy but unsustainable in the long run. You need time off to recharge. From the start, you need to set boundaries between when you work and when you’re off.
A good strategy is to not look at your email before 9 am and after 6 pm. You can set out-of-office messages to anybody who contacts you outside of these times.
Encourage others to respect your time too. Then be ready to bring your A-game when you are working.
Here are some useful tips that can help you get started:
- Set daily office hours
- Disable work-related notifications outside of these hours
- Digital-detox before bed
- Separate your work and relaxation spaces as much as possible
4. Get Out of The House
It’s also essential to get out of the house when you work from home. Even though that isn’t easy to do right now, life will eventually get back to normal. For now, take little breaks and get some fresh air. There are also plenty of great exercises you can do from your desk.
Once you don’t need to stay at home because of health concerns, get out there. Go to the park, take a vacation, visit the gym, and do everything else you need to promote a healthy work-life balance.
5. Embrace Communication
Communication is crucial for a successful WFH career. You have so many different ways to communicate now, so take advantage of them.
Here’s a little refresher on how to use different tools:
- Email: great for official correspondences and setting up projects
- Instant Messaging: asking/answering quick questions
- Phone Calls: a 5-minute explanation is faster than writing an email
- Video calls: getting all team members on the same page
- Screenshare: walking through project explanations
*If you’re collaborating on a group project, don’t use email to exchange communication, post documents, and edit. Use management apps like Trello and Asana to better work through project stages.
**Every person has their own communication preference. If it doesn’t sacrifice productivity, then try to be flexible and consider what works best for other people.
Take Advantage of WFH
Now’s the moment that you’ve been waiting for years for. You can skip the commute, getting dressed in uncomfortable clothes, and all the hassles that made work such a headache. With these tips, you can telecommute like a pro and wonder how you ever worked at an office in the first place.