Working from home? I did it for years and have some advice.

Working from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic? I worked from home for years as I built my company and it’s not as simple as opening up a laptop and getting your work done. 

Whether you’re relieved to have a work-from-home opportunity or fearful, remote work isn’t exactly a picnic. Some people love it, and some people (like me) absolutely hate it. Hopefully, I can make things easy for you.

Tip 1: Find A Strategic Spot To Work

If you can avoid it, do not work at the kitchen table, bedroom, or living room. Work in your office, a spare bedroom, or find a space that you can section off. Even if you have to convert a room temporarily having a designated workspace is key to staying productive.

Having a separate workspace also gives creates separation from work and rest, but it’s also a good signal to spouses or even children that you are in work mode and must be left alone. Ideally, the room will have a closing door.

If you can, try to avoid that dark damp basement too. At least for me, the lack of sunlight, darkness, and cold messed with my mind. I nearly went crazy.

Tip 2: Leadership and Management Styles Change

Physically working together is beneficial to a degree. You probably don’t think that remote workers must be managed differently, and because most leaders aren’t aware of this their teamwork suffers. While it’s true some folks are more productive, team dynamics and communication can take a huge hit.

I interviewed Vicki Brackett about why remote worker management is so different. “They don’t truly understand that work-at-home leadership and managing people is different. And it is for obvious reasons, that we can’t see them and see the people we manage, but we can’t read their body language.” Brackett explained. “Managing takes a whole different approach and you have to be very conscious in how you do it.”

Brackett explained to me because nonverbals are no longer available you need to quickly pull “body language” from company messaging apps, calls, and email tone. Is someone logging on late? Is a team member who is typically high energy, suddenly dry?

Tip 3: Working From Home Requires Bandwidth

Check your internet speed. If you’re anywhere near or below 10Mbps, you will need to keep your bandwidth lean for work. If kids are using Netflix, or someone is playing online games in the house, your productivity could very well take a hit or worse. There’s nothing worse with “that guy” that keeps glitching on the video call, and it’s also not good if you lose valuable work.

It might be time to unplug certain smart devices and institute bans on Netflix or gaming platforms. It’s not as big of a deal as you might think though. Young people tend to prefer print books over e-readers anyway. So, take a trip to the library or buy some books on Amazon. You can only read The Very Fuzzy Caterpillar so many times.

Tip 4: Get Dressed For Work

Don’t work in your pajamas. Wear what you would wear to work. Staying in your pajamas might sound like a great idea, but it will negatively affect your productivity and, at least in my experience, make you just a bit depressed feeling like a loser. But there’s another reason to get ready for work. Because you might have to go back.

It will be jarring on that first day going back to work if you don’t maintain some kind of work pattern, so avoid the temptation. Keep your standard routine and get dressed for work, even if you don’t have a video conference.

Tip 5: Don’t Get Distracted

You likely aren’t’ going to sit and watch Netflix, but there will be temptations that pop up preventing you from hitting flow and remaining efficient. When working from home, leaking faucets, dirty dishes, unmade beds, and dirty laundry develop personalities and stare at you, asking for your attention. Fight back with a little planning.

Make sure to get these tasks done before or after work. Never during the workday, unless you need a nice break. Just make sure to manage your schedule and set a timer. Which brings me to a surprising tip.

Tip 6: Take A Break!

This sounds bizarre, but make sure you take breaks and get up and walk around. If you do it right, working from home offers few distractions, and some people (like me) tend to overwork and go hours on end with no breaks. This is bad for you. Take breaks and don’t feel bad for it.

Tip 7: Find a Good Podcast

The final tip is to find a good podcast to listen to. Because you will have less commute time on top of more at home time, it’s a great idea to find a few good podcasts to listen to. Here are my current favorites:

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