Clix is a full-time remote marketing agency with staff members scattered across the country. All of our staff members previously worked in a traditional office setting before transitioning to full-time work-from-home (WFH) positions, so we know the struggle and changes that can come with working from home.
As coronavirus intensifies across the United States and more companies have their employees work from home, there can be a learning curve.
We want to share our tips on how to transition to working remotely, for however long that may be for you.
Have a Dedicated Space
If you can, set up shop in a dedicated area. This can be the kitchen table, a desk, a folding table, anywhere you can find the space.
We full-time WFH employees usually suggest that your space has a door, as that allows you to not only shut out noise and distractions but it also differentiates your work from the rest of your house.
If you’re using a communal area like the kitchen table, packing up your laptop and work items at night will help you to avoid checking in on work outside of business hours.
Keep Your Set Schedule
A key factor in keeping your sanity is to keep a set schedule.
This means starting your workday at the same time you always do. Dressing like you’re actually going to work will help you to have a work mindset instead of a “lazy Sunday morning” mentality.
Try to keep all your regular meetings in place by switching to a teleconference or video conference. Eat lunch at your regular time. If you normally take an afternoon break, do that as well.
To stay organized, consider mapping out your task list as to what you will complete and deadlines for each project.
If your kids are home with you unexpectedly, create a schedule for them to follow as well. Setting daily schedules and routines for yourself and your family will save you! Even planning everyone’s snacks so that you aren’t constantly interrupted can be a big help.
Keeping your routine will help you separate your work from your home life.
If you’re used to working consistently in an office, you probably aren’t used to the everyday distractions that are waiting for you at home.
Dishes in the sink, television, laundry, pets, children, the list could go on and on.
While I don’t have children, I do have pets that I make sure to put away during every conference call or when I especially need to focus. If needed, I have a fan to drown out noise as well.
A great rule of thumb: the TV doesn’t come on during my office hours.
If friends and family try to call with non-emergency calls during business hours, I have a hard rule that I don’t answer and I let them know I’ll call them back when my business day is complete. It would be no different in a normal office environment.
It’s easy to get pulled into a household task during the day, but staying on-task is imperative for long-term success.
But Do Take Breaks
It’s imperative to limit distractions, but you also have to take breaks. Just like in an office environment, you’ll always need to find time to take a 5, 10, 15-minute break to let your brain recharge a bit.
It doesn’t have to be super scientific, but make sure you push pause on the work train every once in a while. Since you won’t have coworkers around, it may be easier to work straight through for several hours in a row.
Get up, move around, and then get back to work. If I think I might get pulled into a long break, I’ll set a timer on my phone to remind me of the time.
Maintain Social Connection
One of the hardest transitions people typically have from office life to WFH is the limited social interaction. But just because you’re not going to stroll by someone’s desk and have a small conversation with them doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them.
Set aside time to have either one-on-one or group phone calls or online chats to be sure your teams are on the same page; and when you do, don’t be shy about building in a little time to socialize. It feels slightly strange to be on a call and spend 10 minutes talking about your day rather than getting down to work, but it’s the same thing you would do in an office setting.
We have some suggestions for specific apps and software in the next section to make sure you stay socially connected with coworkers.
Equipment for Success
There are a few small items that you might already have that can make all the difference.
First, a good pair of headphones. Whether you like listening to music, your favorite podcasts or just some ambient background noise, headphones can help both to block out noise and keep you focused. If you’ll be conducting conference calls, good headphones with a mic will ensure you sound clear and crisp.
Second, your laptop screen may quickly become cramped to work on. An external monitor is incredibly useful for spreading out documents and windows as you work. In a pinch, you may be able to connect a small TV or a tablet as an additional screen. Check out Duet Display, an app that can turn an iOS or Android tablet into a second monitor.
Finally, an external keyboard and mouse are useful. A cramped laptop keyword and touchpad can become uncomfortable when used long-term. These are usually fairly inexpensive to purchase.
Software & Apps for Remote Work
Assuming you don’t deal with especially sensitive information, like HIPAA, you should be able to use most of these free tools:
This is an easy way to store and edit documents on-the-go.
These are PPC professional must-haves.
Skype is free and allows you to have private chats with team members and create group chats for different teams and accounts. If needed, you can make audio or video calls on Skype as well. It can be downloaded on your PC, Mac or smartphone. Slack is another popular messaging tool.
Other Free Conferencing Tools
If you need another option for audio or video chatting, Facetime and WhatsApp both support this function.
Toggl for Time Tracking
Track your tasks and projects with this time tracking tool. The basic account is free.
This project management, database tool allows multiple users to track and organize projects.
Working from home can be a big adjustment. Over time, you’ll find processes, routines and ways to make it work for your current lifestyle. Hopefully, this won’t last long for you and you’ll be back in your office life before you know it!
If you’re interested in additional tips, here is a post I wrote a few years back about remote work.