Let me start by saying that I am not an expert at working from home. I like going to the office and having a dedicated space where I can be productive and get things done. As an engineer, I typically have printed plans or several calculation sheets that need to be at my desk — Making a simple home set up a lot more difficult.
I am also very into content creation which has served me well these past few weeks of working from home. I am thankful I have a dedicated workspace (in our guest room) where I can close the door behind me and focus on the complex finite element analysis I do for work.
Working remotely is becoming more and more popular than ever before. One Gallup survey found that 43% of Americans work from home occasionally. That’s up from 39% of those who did in 2012. I imagine this number will continue to increase as more companies adapt their policies after this pandemic.
Working from home will vary from students to someone with a full-time job, but there are a lot of similarities. There are a lot of resources out there but my advice is to try a few different combinations of workspaces, time, routines, and decide what works best for you.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” Charles Buxton
Here are 7 things I have found really useful during this time at home:
Get the Right Equipment
Having the right equipment means different things depending on your profession. I know many people that only need an iPad to get their work done. As an engineer, I like to have at least two monitors with an external keyboard and mouse — It just makes my work a lot easier. Here are a few things I am currently using at my home office:
During this time it is important to do things that are going to help your mind, body, and soul. I like reading my bible, getting some exercise (even though it is a lot harder during this time), just sitting for a bit with a good cup of coffee, and simply spending time quietly and listening to my surroundings. It is important to spend some time like this because it can be hard to just sit and listen during the day since there is always something going on.
Plan your Day
You should be planning your day out every day, but it is especially important during a time (like now) when there is so much going on. It can be hard to separate work duties from home duties, also. What I like to do is schedule time in the calendar to separate when it’s time for work and when it’s time to spend time with my family or work on my personal projects. This idea of balance and separation is probably one of the hardest parts of working from home — I think about work when I am with my family and think about my family when I am working. You do not need to sit and work a full eight hours in a row; instead, plan around what you have going on at home (for example mealtimes and kids nap time). I would also recommend scheduling time to stay up to date on social media and the news. It is important to spend some time staying informed, just don’t be constantly checking this throughout the day.
Find a Quiet Place, If You Can
This one is a big one for me, I like sitting at a desk, having two monitors, a keyboard and mouse, and space to work. But that is me — I know plenty of people that prefer working on the couch or laying in bed. And you know what? That is ok, too! We are all different. Find a place where you are productive and can focus on your work. It is important to mention that when you are working from home, your most productive work time may not be the same as when you were at the office and it will change constantly, especially if you have a family.
It is really easy to get off track when you are working at home, but you need to set yourself up for success as best you can. Find ways to be accountable with yourself. Maybe you set mini-goals throughout the day that you can reward yourself for achieving along the way. Another great way to be accountable is to have someone at work keep you accountable. Having regular check-ins is a great way to stay on track.
Overcommunication is Key
It is really important that you are communicating with your team. A lot of people feel lonely during this time since they are working by themselves all day, so make sure you are constantly talking to your team members. Coordinating project work remotely is also really challenging, but you must find ways to stay on top of your tasks. Using programs like Slack, Google Chat, or Microsoft Teams helps facilitate the conversation between everyone in the team. Another great way to stay connected is by using video conferencing — a few options include Google Meet, Zoom, and GoToMeeting.
Use Your Commute time Wisely
This is an added bonus that comes with working from home. We get an extra hour, or even two hours, back in the day. Use this time to recharge from all the stress, get side-projects done, work on your craft, or simply spend a little more time watching Netflix. It is ok to take it easy, it is ok to take more time to relax. We are all stressed during this time of uncertainty so make sure you are taking care of yourself.