Learning How to Work Remotely from Home is difficult
Working from home / Remote Working can be a real challenge if it’s the first time you’ve ever done it. With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, a lot of people are going to be working at home for the very first time.
We have produced 40 tips and tricks to help you work from home more effectively, maximize your productivity and most importantly keep you sane! We look at several different areas in the remote working lifestyle and then provide a handful of tips about each topic. If you like the article, please be social and share with your network.
Here are our 40 tips for How to Work from Home
Location and Area
- Define an area and make it yours. This is very important; you need a space where you’re comfortable and have everything within reach.
- Pick somewhere well lit. Ensure the light in your area is easy on your eyes and doesn’t glare on your screen.
- Ensure wall colours are neutral. Neutral wall colours will help video call quality and ensure you stand out more.
- Wear clothes you want to be seen in. You may be required to go “on video” during conferences, don’t get caught out in your pyjamas!
- Ensure your area is quiet. Putting yourself in the middle of the kitchen when the dishwasher and washing machine are running probably won’t help your productivity.
- Try to stay away from distractions. If at all possible, somewhere away from ticking clocks, pets and co-habitants will be most conducive to a productive day.
- Ensure you have enough surface space. You need to have all of your tools and devices within arms reach to avoid straining and over reaching.
Tools to make Working at Home / Remote Working easier
- Know your Software. Spend time getting to know the tools your team are going to be using; read user guides and FAQ’s to get to know where features are and how to use them.
- Use Keyboard Shortcuts. Loads of apps have software shortcuts built in, which are great for saving time. Learn these to help boost productivity.
- Have a Second Screen. Two screens can boost productivity by over 30%. Especially if you’re used to having two in the office, ask your procurement team to provide a second screen for your new work from home use.
- Sound Quality. Ensure your microphone is setup correctly and that call quality is good. Your co-workers will very quickly dislike being on calls with you if your mic quality is bad.
- Use test calls in your application to setup your audio. Most conferencing apps have a test call feature. Use this to setup your audio optimally.
- Configure your webcam. Make sure your webcam is pointed at your face. Avoid bright lights behind your head and try to have a neutrally coloured backdrop.
- Configure Mobile Software Clients. Some companies use tools such as Teams which has a mobile client. Using this in conjunction with your device can be a helpful aid to monitor messages and other comms.
Work out a Remote Routine to stay productive
- Have a set time you log on. Logging on at a set time will help you plan the rest of your day.
- Have a set time you log off. As above, you need to make sure you have a work curfew to avoid burning yourself out. At first you’ll want to be doing all the hours possible, but in the long run this will make you less productive. Stick to the hours you’d do in the office plus an extra hour or so per day as a rule of thumb.
- Set an alarm in the morning. Make sure you’re waking up consistently and keeping in the habit of being awake and ready to work before your log on time.
- Create a list of tasks for the day. Make a list and try to stick to it as much as possible. Having some set tasks or goals can really help focus the mind and keep you productive. Keep it achievable.
- Take regular breaks. It goes without saying that you need to make time to step away from your screen. Once an hour is a must.
- Set time aside to stretch. You’ll naturally be sat in your chair more at home. Make sure you set aside some time to stretch your arms, neck and legs.
- Work out how to communicate. Your colleagues will be working remotely for the first time too; you need to work out what’s best between you. IM is usually a favourite among most. (learn more about communication and collaboration here)
- Explain the situation to your cohabitants. Anyone you live with will also need to adjust to your remote working situation. Take time to explain your need to be productive and distraction free when you’re working.
- Use IM or Call People for Immediate Answers. Email often tends to get ignored or go to the back of peoples processing queue. If you have an urgent requirement, call or IM your colleague for a more prompt response.
- Schedule regular check ins. Regularly checking in your manager will help you both set expectations and communicate goals or challenges. It will also help add structure to your days / weeks.
- Hold regular team scrum calls. Holding regular scrums helps to ensure you all know where you’re at, what projects you’re working on and helps you prioritise work as a team.
- Don’t drink too much caffeine. You’re going to have easier access to your kettle and coffee machine while at home; don’t overload your body or you could end up suffering with headaches.
- It’s okay to do the washing. When you’re taking one of your breaks from your work environment, it’s okay to do some house chores for a few minutes – sometimes doing this can refocus your mind.
- Keep out of the fridge. As with point 26, you have unhindered access to the fridge. Try and be strict with yourself when it comes to snacking!
- Minimise pet distractions. If you have pets in your household try to find a way to keep them from disrupting your work.
- Stop social media notifications. If you have social media notifications going off on your work device or another one nearby, turn them off. It will be distracting and constantly stall your productivity. Check them on your terms, when you’re ready for a break.
- Use a LAN cable. Using a network cable directly plugged into your router will provide the most stable connection possible.
- Explain to your cohabitants that voice quality matters. High traffic services such as Netflix and Amazon Video consume a lot of bandwidth, try to work out a way amongst your household to limit the usage of these services during work time.
- Pick an area with strong WiFi signal. If you can’t use a network cable, bare this in mind when picking an area to work in.
- Consider a better Wireless Access Point. If you live in a highly populated household with lots of traffic demands, consider having a decent Wireless AP installed; these devices can help smooth out traffic and are more configurable than BT, Virgin or TalkTalk hubs, for instance.
- Consider 4G and Tethering. If your signal from your WiFi is extremely poor, consider tethering to your phone for 4G connectivity. Warning; data charges could rack up quickly, so cover this off with your manager first.
- Know who your IT Team are. Understand who the IT team are and which people to contact for what issues, and how best to contact them.
- Write contact details down. Don’t rely on contact details posted on intranets or other sites; if you can’t access the internet for some reason and need help, you won’t necessarily have access to these details. Write them down.
- Know how to log a fault or ticket. Understand how to access your service desk system and log a fault or ticket.
- Check your IT team can help remotely. Check with your IT team and ensure they can remotely support all of your devices you use for your working day.
40 – Be a Human!
Our last tip is the most important; for many of us this is a new and daunting prospect. We’re all in it together and for many this will be a great learning curve. Take this as an opportunity to help instill a great work from home culture in your company which they can take forward after the epidemic has long gone.
We hope you enjoyed our guide on How to Work From Home, if you liked it please share it with your friends and coworkers.