Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has meant that more and more people are having to work from home. If you’re reading this, chances are that you might well be one of them.
Working from home has a lot of benefits, but it can also be tough to adapt to if you’re used to an office environment – and this is where the team at Roll7 figured we might be able to help out. We have been working remotely for the past five years, and with the knowledge we’ve gathered in that time, we’ve made a list of tips and tricks for anyone who’s suddenly found themselves working from home.
I put out a call for advice in one of our slack channels, and was absolutely inundated with tips from our brilliant team. These tips are divided below into a few key areas for your reading convenience. We weren’t all always in agreement about what works and doesn’t work, so I’ve tried to include tips which represent
a range of ideas about how best to work from home. Some might suit you brilliantly, and others just won’t gel – the great thing about remote work is that you can find your own best working style and do things your way.
If you have any more specific questions, or if you want any pointers on an area not mentioned here, feel free to contact us on Twitter.
Office Setup 🏢
Establish ground rules with family/flatmates to stop interrupting you - e.g. no opening the office door unless it's an emergency.
When choosing where to work from, a room with a window is a huge plus, even if you aren’t looking directly out of it – natural light and a source of air (esp. if you are having to keep the door closed to keep kids/pets/family out) are really important.
Get some plants! They’re great for air quality.
Carve out a special work zone. If you have a spare room to use as an office, that’s great - but if you don’t, you can do things like putting a blanket over your work desk in your bedroom when you’re done for the day to signify that work hours are over and it’s now time to relax and chill out. In the same way, making the bed in the morning will help stop you being tempted to crawl back in if you’re working from your bedroom.
While you’re working, treat your space like the office – no tv, no friends over, no general clutter.
No FB/Twitter/Instagram etc. – basically don’t have stuff open that you wouldn’t have open in the office. If you can, leave your phone in another room or on silent. If you need your phone for work, try to mute notifications for all non-work-related apps.
Sit in a proper chair, your back will thank you later – no working from bed or from the sofa!
On the subject of proper chairs: a dining chair does not cut it. They are hard and you will get bedsores.
Invest in good quality equipment, if you can (laptop, keyboard, etc.) – or check with your workplace to see if they will loan you some.
If possible, it’s also good idea to have some spare kit – an extra pair of headphones, even just some cheap ones, can be really handy in a pinch if yours suddenly go bust part way through the day and you can’t make it to the shops.
Make your workspace comfy and somewhere you’re happy to be in. Because you aren’t in an office, you have way more control over things like temperature, lighting, and music – take advantage of this to set up a space that will help you work to your best ability!
Listen to music if you want, but any kind of media with words is super distracting when you’re trying to write.
Keep your workspace tidy – even if nobody else can see it, it’s better for your state of mind to have a clean space.
Routine & Work/Life Balance ⚖️
Take time for hobbies. Use your lunch break to do something you love that you couldn’t do in the office – video games, sewing, gardening... whatever it is that takes your fancy!
Get fresh air every day, even if it’s just a stroll in the garden or opening the window and taking in the view.
Wake up properly before starting work, don’t just roll out of bed onto your desk.
Know when to stop working. Once the day is done, it’s done; don’t be tempted to keep going back to your desk since it’s right there. You’ll do better work if you also take time for yourself.
Make a separate ‘work’ user on your computer – this will help keep your work life and your home life separate.
Don’t get lost in the trap of being ‘seen’ online – you don’t need to immediately reply to every single message you get if you’re in the middle of something. Let your colleagues know if you need to go quiet for an hour or two to focus on a task.
Take advantage of the perks of being at home – take a break to play with your pets, do some dishes before work instead of the commute, or run a local errand at lunch.
Doing household chores at lunch or during the time you would be commuting will have a side benefit of freeing up your weekends!
Try to keep active, as without a commute you will be doing less exercise. You can do home workouts, yoga, stretches etc., whatever suits you best – just make sure you do it.
It can be nice to put aside time at the start and end of your work day to do a bit of exercise during the time you would otherwise be doing a commute – it helps you to warm up and wind down before and after the work day.
Since you’re not in an office, you have the freedom to do whatever you want at lunch – do some yoga, take a bath, cook a full meal etc.
Follow the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Respect your neighbours – yes it’s nice to be able to play your tunes out loud, but keep it at a quiet, respectful volume, and watch out for chair scraping which might be really annoying for anyone below. Doubly important since there are going to be a lot more folks at home in the day right now!
In general, set yourself a daily routine and stick to it. The details of that routine are up to you, but keeping it consistent is key.
Food & Drink 🍔
Take a proper, full-length lunch break. Don’t be tempted to work through lunch.
Spend lunch away from the desk. It helps to keep work separate from your free time, and it helps prevent your desk becoming overly cluttered and busy, too.
Take care not to fall into a habit of snacking/grazing all day instead of eating a proper lunch at a set time.
Eat heathy lunches – you have way more freedom to eat a healthy lunch that you’ll actually enjoy now that you’re at home and not beholden to whatever damp, overpriced sandwiches are left in the café’s near work. Take advantage of it!
Also, with the amount you save eating at home, you can actually get the occasional meal delivered as a treat, and it feels quite decadent.
Drink lots of water. Getting up and refilling your glass every hour or so canbe a good way to make sure you stretch your legs, too.
The coffee and tea at home may be cheaper than buying coffee out, but don’t fall into the trap of over-caffeinating. Try making herbal teas if you feel like having more hot drinks than you usually do.
Staying social 🗣️
Speak to other people face-to-face where possible – this includes online if you don’t have flatmates or family who are also self-isolating with you at home. Take the time to video-call a friend in your lunch break, even if it’s just for a brief five-minute natter.
Try to get some fresh air – this could include going into you garden or onto your balcony, or even just opening a window and having breakfast in the sun.
Try not to sit in silence for too long – play music, listen to the radio, etc.
Call people whenever you need to – in an office you can easily go speak to your co-workers, try to replicate that environment online.
If you can, do video calls rather than voice. It’s more sociable, and it’s easier to understand one another and effectively communicate when you can see the other person’s face.
Talk to your lead or to teammates if you are struggling. If you’re finding something about working from home hard, chances are one of them has been through it too, and may be able to help you out.
Make sure you take five mins or so every hour to stretch your legs and (if possible) to have a chat with somebody – you need those ‘water cooler’ moments so you don’t feel isolated or lonely.
Get a pet and cuddle it.
If you don’t have a pet, a plant is nice – it’s just something cheerful and alive that you can take care of and take little breaks in the day to tend to.
What (not) to wear 👔
Get dressed from the waist up.
... you definitely need to get dressed (both halves of your body!), but you can probably wear comfier clothes than you wear to the office – and take advantage of the fact that you can wear slippers at your desk! Much nicer than pinchy smart shoes.
Getting at least your top half dressed is important, we can agree on that.
Working in PJs feels like a treat, but it honestly just makes it harder to shift into/out of work mode – you’ll find it makes it harder to work AND harder to relax later. Get washed and dressed before work, and you’ll feel way better inthe long run.
PJs are ok, but you have to wear allocated work PJs.
(At this point, the thread descended into mixed fear and delight at the concept of ‘allocated work PJs’, and I decided to call it a day.)
We hope this write-up was at least insightful and hopefully has helped one or two of you in adjusting to remote work, or has given you a new perspective on whether or not you should or should not have designated work pyjamas.
The Roll7 Team
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