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With the spread of COVID-19, many typically in-house companies are shifting their employees to work from home in an effort to protect their teams and contain the pandemic.
But with that comes an entirely new world, where people who are used to going to an office all day are now being met with the challenges of working in your living space. And that can be a big hit to your routine and productivity.
Not only are you new to getting work done from home, but school closures and global lockdowns are adding even more stress to the situation.
Working your full time job while homeschooling and parenting the kiddos? You’ve got dogs barking, neighbors mowing their lawn and hungry children whining all while you’re trying to join a Zoom conference call.
Don’t get down on yourself. Your co-workers and clients will understand. This is new territory for a lot of us. But we’ve also got 20 working from home tips to help even more.
Here at Visme, while we have a main office in the Washington, DC area, we also have a distributed team across 12 countries all over the world. Even our in-house team members work from home at least once a week.
So we asked several of our team members what their favorite working from home tips are to help new (and the not so new!) remote workers adjust.
We’ve put together an infographic to skim through our top tips, but please continue scrolling to hear directly from several of our team members.
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Whether you’ve been fully remote with your team throughout your time with your company or you’re newly working from home, video calling is a great way to create personal connections from a distance.
Our developer Aleksei's working from home tip is, “Use video when calling someone. It helps to stay emotionally connected.”
And it’s true. Any time we have a call or meeting with a co-worker at Visme, no matter how often we may work one-on-one with that teammate, we make it a video call. It’s a great way to continue to build working relationships, even when you may not be in the office together.
Plus, who doesn’t want a sneak peek of your cat on your lap or your toddler running around in the background to brighten up their day?
We cannot stress enough the value of having a specified place for work, even when you’re in your home.
Working at a desk or in a room that is only used for that purpose can help you create a routine and become much more productive than if you work from your bed or couch.
As our front-end developer Beso recommends, “If you have the ability to have a separate room for working, not your bedroom or another room where you usually spend time, it will help to focus more.”
Another tip from Bogdan on our outreach team is that, “Working place matters. You should have a separate space, where you can concentrate and pay all your attention for the working process. It will increase your productivity and help you to forget about household chores.”
After all, how productive can you be when your dirty dishes are staring you in the face?
Content marketing manager Mahnoor’s tip is to “pick a nice and comfortable spot to work from, preferably near a window. Set up your laptop, desk and chair, and make sure you have all the essentials within your reach, including a pen and notepad.”
And she makes a great point. If you continue having to get up from your desk to find the tools you need to take notes or get tasks done, you’ll continuously break your focus and prolong your tasks.
Sajaad on our support team used to work in a space where his little one would also run around, and it didn’t have the best effect on either one. He’s learned to create his own working space, and he’s really done it up as well.
His must-haves in his home office include:
If you’re also worried about working while your kids are running around, talking to your kids about the situation and establishing a daily routine can help tremendously.
Comfort is also key. Our designer Monfa’s tip is to “find the best comfort – a good chair, and a desk with enough height and space to make you feel comfortable.”
Take a look at these security tips as well to make sure your home office and equipment aren't at risk.
When you’re in the office, you likely get up a few times throughout the day, maybe to go talk to a co-worker face-to-face or simply to see some new scenery for a few minutes.
It’s a good idea to do the same thing when working from home. Our designer Hylie suggests, “Take regular breaks, don't work nonstop all day. This helps you to clear your mind and stay focused when working.”
Another great tip from our PR manager Kalyn is, “Stand up and get a snack, drink water and stretch. Working from home, I have found it's very easy to sit for hours at a time... even skipping lunch (without intention).
“After hearing Dustin Stout's 20-20-20 method, I started to be more aware of when I need to stand up, take a break (even if just for 5 minutes) and recoup.
“I have found doing this helps me eliminate headaches at the end of the day, have better focus and in turn, get more accomplished in less time.”
Monfa’s working from home tip is to “work for periods of 2 hours, rest, or take care of other household chores for about 10 minutes and go back to work,” which is a great way to be productive in more ways than one.
Content marketing manager Mahnoor says it best: “It's very easy to get exhausted when you're constantly staring at a computer screen and sitting in the same position for hours. Give yourself a break by getting up after every hour or two and taking a quick walk.”
When you’re working from home, it can be far too easy to see your work schedule slowly blur into the rest of your day, affecting your overall work-life balance.
My personal tip is to set specific start and end times and stay on top of the time so you’re not working long past your set hours.
Aleksei agrees, saying, “Check the clock from time to time. It is easy to work more or less than planned.”
Working from home can be especially dangerous for workaholics. Monfa says, “If you have a tendency to be a workaholic or if you already are, being at home will increase this. In general, being at home we work many more hours than one is used to when working in an office, and we must control it.”
To help you stay on top of the time and keep control of your day, you can try using a daily planner and schedule out your work tasks, like the one below.
If you’re used to a dual monitor setup at the office, do your best to create the same atmosphere at home. Many tasks require multiple windows, and the ease of having one on each screen rather than clicking back and forth will save you time and sanity.
Our animator Julia’s tip is to, “Create a comfortable workplace setup with a powerful computer, 2 monitors (in my case) and good internet connection.”
Marketing intern Ivan says, “Multiple monitors helps me increase productivity and takes away from the monotony of splitting screens and opening/closing windows nonstop.”
If your company allows you to take home office supplies to increase productivity, take advantage. Otherwise, talk to your employer about your work from home needs to see if they can assist.
Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you can’t still have watercooler chat and regular check-ins with your colleagues.
Especially for 100% remote companies, building a rapport with those you work most closely with is essential to job satisfaction.
Kalyn recommends, “Stay connected with your team and adjacent team members. It's easy to feel distanced when you are remote. Take even just 5 minutes to reach out to someone on your team each day. Even just saying "How are you?" and making a few minutes of small talk goes a long way.”
Sending a quick chat message or even email is a great way to keep regular conversations going and learn more about the people you work with on a daily or weekly basis.
Having team check-ins is also a great way to build rapport and create connections.
Customer success manager Emanuele suggests, “Communication: have weekly calls to align with the rest of your team.”
Each department here at Visme has weekly calls to make sure everyone is on the same page and tasks are being completed, but it’s also a great way to have some face time. Remember I mentioned we use video calls. It’s the only time we get to see each other’s shining faces!
Working full time from home while taking care of the kids 100% of the time does not provide much extra time for cleaning.
No one is saying that your house needs to be spotless during this time, but doing your best to keep a clean desk is important.
Ardin from our support team says, “A clean work environment is a must. I found out that keeping my workstation clean does boost my productivity and morale. For me a quiet work environment is also a priority, I do enjoy working in silence since it keeps me focused.”
When you need to hunker down and do focused work, limiting distractions is key. Whether it’s to jump on a work call or write a report, try your best to find a work area that allows you to hone in on your tasks.
Our designer Winnie’s working from home tip is, “Find a place with no distractions. Working from home, I make it so I don't get distracted every time I am in the middle of an important task or finishing up the task.”
This can be a nice break from the office, when co-workers can often come up to you, interrupting your focus or asking you to switch to a different task instead.
As Beso puts it, “I think working from home is more productive as in the office there are many factors that distract you. For example, you’re at work and someone says ‘GOT's last season was awful,’ and the discussion begins.”
Ivan’s way of doing this is, “I have found it helpful to create a part of my house that encourages a regulated environment free from distractions.”
Of course, this can be difficult when your kids are at home at the same time. Kalyn, mom of two, jokingly says, “Keep them fed,” but it's still good advice. Is anyone else’s kid’s favorite words, “I want a snack,” or is it just me?
Kalyn’s tips for managing kids while needing to get things done is, “Have snacks that are easy for them to get themselves, and load up on prepared sippy cups/glasses of drinks to empower them to help themselves.
“The best skills you can give your children during this time is how to be self-reliant for making a snack, getting dressed, brushing their teeth and owning their routine.”
There are many parts of the world that incorporate naps into their daily routine, and if you have the freedom and flexibility to work from home, why not give it a try?
This is what our web developer Dmitrii had to say: “My favorite performance booster – sleeping half an hour on my lunch break time.”
Set aside a quick 30-minute break for a power nap to prepare yourself for the second part of your day. It could be a game changer in your productivity levels.
This is the perfect time for this tip, when many people are working from home and kids are completing school work from home.
Our writer and social media manager Orana says, “If you are stuck at home with the entire family, take advantage of breaks to be with them.”
Yes, you need to make sure you have enough time to get your work done. But taking advantage of this rare time to have the whole family together is valuable.
Set your kids up at the table with you and have everyone work together. Take brain breaks throughout the day and play board games with your kids. Plan your work around nap schedules. Figure out what works best for your family.
Staying hydrated is a good idea all the time, not just when you’re working from home. But making sure you have water to drink during the day can help you stay hydrated and healthy.
Social media manager Hart says, “Always have glass or a tumbler full of water right beside you to keep hydrated.”
Use a water bottle you have at home or do some online shopping to find one you love.
A great way to stay organized at home is to start each day with a to do list.
Our writer Shagufta says, “I always prefer checklists because the act of ticking or striking off the done task gives me somewhat of a mental satisfaction.”
Another great tip from animator Andrey is, “Set small goals for a day and for a week/month, depending how big the project is.”
Breaking down your larger projects into bite-sized lists can also help large tasks seem less overwhelming, especially when everything else in life might be more stressful than usual.
To help you break projects down, utilize a project planner like the template below.
If you’re worried about holding yourself accountable to get work done, timing yourself can be a great way to ensure you’re on task.
Marketing director Farzad’s tip is, “Time yourself, and record the working/break times on a piece of paper, even if your employer doesn't ask for them. This automatically keeps you focused on tasks and helps you avoid taking long breaks.”
Another option is Pomodoro timing. This is what our front-end developer Alek does. He says, “Use a Pomodoro timer. In fact it's not only for working remotely, it's just for being more concentrated.”
Working from home might be entirely new terrain for you, and timing yourself or using apps and browser extensions to focus on a single webpage could be a good solution when first starting out.
This is one of my personal favorite tips, and is something I’ve done since I started at Visme to help keep myself accountable and ensure I have a record of every task I complete.
Keep a list of all of the day-to-day tasks you accomplish. This will help you stay on track and ensure you’re getting stuff done, but is also a great list to fall back on if someone needs to know when certain tasks or projects were completed.
Many employers may be anxious to see if their newly remote team members are staying on task, and being able to provide a list of the tasks you’ve gotten done can be a great way to ease their minds.
Our designer Daniela suggests, “Take advantage of technology. There are a lot of apps that will help you to communicate and keep your productivity up.”
Mahnoor recommends looking for mobile apps for the tools you’re already using. She says, “Working remotely means you're probably using several tools for collaboration, project management and more.
“If any of these tools have a mobile app, download it on your phone. You can check notifications on the go, communicate timely, and take care of urgent tasks if needed even when you're not sitting at your desk.”
Visme is another great tool that can help you complete tasks with your remote team. You’re able to collaborate on your designs, leaving comments for each other in real time. Plus, online presenting makes giving sales presentations remotely a breeze.
Everyone works well at different times of the day. Some might be most productive in the mornings while others are night owls.
Andrey’s tip is, “Find your most productive time.” One great thing about remote work is that you have the flexibility to make your own schedule. While you might need to be plugged in at certain times for team meetings, when you get your work done is often up to you.
Beso says, “To improve time management, usually when working from home you can choose the best time for working. For example, I am the most productive in the morning hours, on the other hand, there are many people who prefer night hours.”
For those working while managing kids home from school, working around their schedule might also be the best way to get your work done. Try pulling out your work during nap or after the kids go to bed to get some focus time.
Another of Andrey’s tips is simply, “Don’t work on weekends,” and it’s because you also need a break and a chance to unplug and get away from your work.
As we mentioned earlier in this post, it can be easy to blur the lines between the work day and the rest of your day, so having some clear cut off time when you aren’t working is a healthy boundary to create.
Once you’ve figured out the work from home schedule that works best for you, do your best to stick to it. Staying consistent and developing a routine helps you to be more productive in your day to day.
Monfa’s tip is to “Define a schedule that suits you best, looking for the best time to concentrate and dedicate all your attention to work.”
Emanuele puts it like this, “Build a regular schedule to create a stable rhythm week after week. And try to stick with it.”
Brightening your desk with something that makes you happy can be another great tip for working from home.
Orana’s working from home tip is, “Clean your work area of clutter and add happy items like plants or a little mascot.”
Having a succulent or small trinket watching over your workspace can put a smile on your face throughout the day and help you truck on through.
Sajaad recommends having something like, “ornaments or any collectables which you love – legos, model cars, cactus, flower pots, etc.” He even keeps a fish tank in his home office for a more soothing ambiance.
Figure out what would make you happy to keep on your desk and place it in the corner for you to glance over at every once in awhile.
You’re working from home now, so what’s stopping you from staying in your pajamas all day everyday? Nothing, really, but that could be hindering your overall productivity.
Monfa says, “Despite what most people think, working in pajamas is not a good idea. You should be comfortable, but bathing and dressing helps to establish the moments of rest versus those of work.”
In other words, continue to take the time to get ready each morning. While you don’t necessarily need to do your hair, put on makeup or trim your beard, you still want to feel good, awake and ready to take on the day.
Working from home might be a new beast, but we’re confident you’ll conquer it with ease. Find a few tips that will work for you and make the best of your at home situation.
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