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A Work From Home Guide For the Newbie Remote Worker

With Covid-19 forcing companies all over the globe to explore work from home option to ensure productivity goes back to normal, work from home is becoming the norm than the exception.

Let’s define a few things:

WFH or Work From Home – This is the term used when an employee is doing work remotely from the office or headquarters. It is work being done at home.

Home Office – The designated area in your house where you do your work.

Some surprising stats about Work From Home

  • In a Stanford University study, employers who offered a work from home option had employee turnover rates fall by over 50%.
  • As reported in 2017, 3.7 million employees (making up 2.8% of the entire U.S. workforce) work from home for at least half the time.
  • The number of regular telecommuting employees (excluding the self-employed population) has grown by 115% since 2005.
  • The number of employers offering a work from home option has grown by 40% in the past 5 years. However, only 7% of all employers in the United States offer work from home flexibility.
  • Two-thirds of managers who offer telecommuting flexibility report that employees who work from home are overall more productive.
  • Employers offering at least part-time telecommuting flexibility collectively save $44 billion each year.

So, here we are in one of the most unprecedented time of our lives and exploring work from home like never before.

If your company proactively activated work from home as part of social distancing efforts in addressing Covid-19 spread, then make the most of it and stay productive.

It is important that you manage your productivity and the perception of you boss. Perception management will be harder to do in a remote setting but it’s doable.

I have been doing work from home for the past 2 years and while it took some getting used to, it has become a way of life for me and I’m able to make the most of it.

Here are some of my tips to get your productivity up and become a PRO:

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1. Create a schedule and stick to it

If you are coming off from working in the office, then try to stick to the schedule that you have established for yourself.

Now, you may be waking up 4 hours before the start of your work to accommodate commute, breakfast, taking care of the kids or workout so adjust it accordingly to your liking.

I suggest having at least 2 hours of lead time before you really “Start” work. This gives you time to relax, wake up, get a shower and dress comfortably (Yes, you need to shower!). I’ll talk about this in my Career Tip #2.

Sticking to a schedule helps organize your day and establishes a “Start” and an “End” of your work day. Believe me, sticking to schedule will be your life saver and will help you have less of that feeling that you seem to be working non-stop.


2. Take a shower and dress comfortably

I strongly do not suggest doing work in your pajamas. This is a no-no for me. Yes, your co-workers won’t smell you or smell your breath. But still, you must get ready as if you are physically going to work.

Why? For a couple of reasons.

  • If you shower, you will feel good and ready for the day. There are a lot of benefits to showering but essentially, it gets you in the mood to do work after.
  • You “break” the time of resting vs. working. The key to being productive while working from home is to distinguish when you’re online and offline. This helps you in making you feel more productive.

Dressing comfortably – not in pajamas, makes a difference in your mindset. Wear jeans or clothes you will wear if you suddenly want to have a quick lunch out or stretch your legs and walk around the neighborhood. 

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3. Have a designated Home Office

Refrain from working on the couch. I mean, you can, but it will make you feel so relaxed that you probably will fall asleep. And you don’t want your boss waking you up through a phone call or endless pings.

Having a designated Home Office helps you separate being at “home” and being at “Work”.

Here are some tips in setting up your home office

  • Set it up like you would if it was your office
  • Install dual monitors: This helps lessen toggling. Also, it will help you in going through spreadsheets much better than trying to work through a 13’inch laptop.
  • Have a comfortable seat: You’ll be sitting for hours, make sure you have bum support. If you can get an ergonomic chair, then go for it. But if not, make sure your seat is cushioned. 
  • Take advantage of the window : If you have a window, then place your laptop in such a way that you are either looking out the window or it’s on your side. Don’t have your back against the window. Not only will it glare, but it will also be hard for people to see you when you do video conferencing. It also helps if you need to rest your eyes from staring at the computer. Take a minute to look out the window and enjoy the view.
  • Have a blank wall background or have a non-distracting artwork behind you. Nothing like your co-workers ogling on that weird artwork your uncle got you for Christmas. Keep your wall clear of distractions.
  • Be mindful of the noise: Try going on a call while in the living room and have your co-worker comment on the noise. This will help you understand acoustics and potential distractions when you have your calls. Install carpets or rugs to help out lessen the noise.
  • Decorate: Put up pictures of loved ones around where you work. Have a fancy calendar with great pictures so it can help you have a positive mindset when you need to rest your eyes. Put up motivational posters. Get my free curated motivational posters for ideas.
Check out these Work From Home Essentials that will help you get organized and stay productive. 


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4. Take breaks

Believe me, if you don’t, it will feel like you’re at work for 12 hours or longer. Working from home can feel like you don’t “end” your day if you don’t put breaks in the middle.

Block 1 hour for lunch on your calendar to set expectations with your co-workers or clients. It will also force you to take a break.

Having breaks help in your mental well-being and getting you back on being productive.

One of my best practices is that I schedule a lunch out with either my husband or friend to break the monotony at home. This makes me feel like I’m having lunch with a colleague like I would if I was in the office.

4. Communicate frequently

The major perception of people who DO NOT work from home is that work from home employees are slacking off and are not being productive.

If you’ve done work from home in the past or currently, you know that this perception is total BS!

Work from home employees constantly have to communicate to manage these perceptions. So, if you just started working from home, make sure you email or use your company messaging system as frequently as possible.

Don’t just use these tools to send nonsense emails/messages. Make sure to take advantage of them and be productive.

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5. Connect with your co-workers virtually

Opt to have video conferencing on as much as possible. This will help in building relationships with your team or co-workers even in a remote setting.

Don’t isolate yourself. Isolation will not make you transition to doing work from home successfully. Moreover, it will make your boss think twice on your productivity and impact.

Have virtual coffee meetings. Make sure everyone has a coffee on hand as you go through your huddle or updates. It will help build team engagement as you interact more frequently.  

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6. End your day and disconnect

It’s so easy to get sucked into work because you don’t have to drive home or get groceries on the way.

Try your best to stick to an offline schedule. If it’s 5:00 pm, then close your laptop at 5:00 pm sharp.

This will help you in managing your “Work time” and “rest time” like I was talking about earlier (Shower everyday topic).

Force yourself not to look at emails after 5:00 pm from your laptop or cellphone. If you have a home office, turn off the light and don’t go in there until the next day, if possible.

Since we are in unprecedented times, it’s probably best to still check emails every now and then but be mindful of the time and that it’s okay to disconnect. Just remember to tell your Boss or co-workers who may be reaching out soon.

Remember your health is important and you have to get enough sleep, rest and exercise. Make the most of working from home and stay productive.

There you have it.

Be safe. Wash hands and Stay home!

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About Daisy Casio

Daisy Casio is a Passionate Operations Leader with over 17 years of work experience in various leadership roles. She has run diverse teams in multiple locations and has built teams from the ground up. She is the Founder of ChampLeaders Blog dedicated to transforming leaders to Champions. She writes about leadership, management, productivity, career tips, team engagement and many more. 

References:
https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/
https://www.surepayroll.com/resources/blog/productivity-prohibitors-how-to-stop-them-in-their-tracks
https://people.stanford.edu/nbloom/sites/default/files/wfh.pdf
https://www.aftercollege.com/cf/2015-annual-survey
https://www.slideshare.net/PGi/state-of-telecommuting-2014-pgi-report/1


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