Afterman Software's employees primarily work remote, so our team members have a lot of experience working from home offices. This experience has helped us develop some tips that we feel will be helpful for all the folks thrust into working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As most of you have already discovered, working from home can be challenging. The biggest challenges are that you end up being significantly more sedate than when working in an office environment and the boundaries between your personal life and work life get blurred.
Below is a list of tips that can help address some of the challenges faced when working from home based on our experience.
1. Arrange your desk so that the wall is to your back.
I'm sure everyone is familiar now with logging into a video call and seeing their colleagues piles of paperwork, craft projects or that blinding window in the background. Followed by the cameo appearance by their family members. Of course cameos from pets are always welcome (well most of the time).
A good way to avoid these issues is to spin your desk around so that your back is to the wall. Making this simple change will have the following advantages.
- When on a video call the other attendees are not seeing your piles
- No family member cameos
- Other family members can share the same work space
- When your family members poke their head into the room you see them
- You can decorate your wall to present your story
2. Get dressed in clothes you would leave the house in.
One of the first things you will be tempted to do is to roll out of bed in your jammies and start the work day. The next thing you know you have not left the house in 3 days and are wearing the same jammies. Your next progression might be to put workout clothes or just your comfy sweatpants with all the holes in it that you wear around the house. The result will be similar, you will probably not leave the house for days.
Getting dressed in something that you feel comfortable wearing but yet you feel comfortable leaving the house has the following advantages.
- Helps you separate work mode from relax mode
- Mentally prepares you for your work day
- Lowers the barrier to getting some exercise or just seeing other faces
- Encourages you to shower and not wear the same clothes for days on end
3. Walk to work.
Yes, convert the time you were using to commute into a time for a short walk around the neighborhood. Come up with a route that takes about 10-20 minutes to walk. Keeping the walk route under 20 minutes makes it easier to convince yourself to not skip the walk. Especially, on cold or rainy days.
- Ensures you get some exercise
- Gives the work day some boundaries
- The exercise and fresh air will get your mind going and reduce stress
- Gives you that alone time you miss from not being in the car commuting
4. Wear Blue blocker computer glasses.
When you work in an office you end up getting breaks from your computer when you attend meetings and chat with you colleagues. When you work from home, meetings and 1:1 interactions all happen in front of the computer. This significantly increases the screen time you are exposed to and can lead to eye discomfort.
Wearing glasses with a some magnification and blue-blocker filter can reduce that discomfort. It is important to note that computer glasses are different from reading glasses. The magnification in computer glasses is designed for the posture used when viewing computer screens and is focused slightly further away than reading glasses.
- Reduce that sand in the eyes feel
- Be more productive
- Reduce mental and physical fatigue
5. Invest in a standing desk.
It is well documented that sitting all day can cause significant health problems. Investing in a standing desk can be game changer. Cycling between sitting and standing during the day can reduce the discomforts associated with being in the same position all day.
Make sure you get a standing desk that cycles easily between sitting and standing or you may find yourself spending too much of your time in one of those positions.
- Combats the sedate nature of working from home
- Reduces the mental barrier to walk away and take a break
- Encourages impromptu dance parties at your desk (headphones optional)
6. Take frequent breaks away from your computer.
It can feel like you need to stay plugged into your computer 100% of the time during your work day when you work from home. Remember that if you were working in the office you would have breaks to chat with your co-workers, walking to meetings or any other office distraction. These impromptu breaks allow you to move around and helps you get perspective on the work you are doing.
- Helps you solve that problem you've been grinding on
- Reduces stress and fatigue
- Another tool to reduce being sedate
7. Limit distractions like working with the TV on.
Like working in your jammies, you may be tempted to work with the TV going or your favorite podcast playing. These distractions will make it easy to procrastinate on those boring tasks all jobs have and erodes at that work vs relax time boundary.
- Helps establish boundaries between work and relax time
- Reduce the amount of time you spend on those boring tasks
Hopefully, you will find these tips helpful in this challenging time.
Stay healthy and stay strong!