Whether you’re working from home by choice or your employer has instituted a new work-from-home policy, the world of working at home might be new and intimidating to you. Luckily, this guide is here to walk you through every concern—from how to set up the perfect at-home work space to tips for deftly avoiding distractions. Read on, and get ready to get work done at home!
What Are the Benefits of Working From Home?
There’s a lot to dislike about working from home. (It can be pretty tough to maintain a work-life balance when your desk is your bed or couch, for example.) But luckily, there’s also a lot to love about working from home—from saving money to reducing stress and increasing productivity.
In fact, research shows the average person can save about £3,190 per year by working remotely.
And a recent survey revealed that not only do remote employees work more, they work smarter, too: they spend about 27 minutes per day distracted, compared to office workers’ 37 minutes.
And another bonus to working from home? Remote workers get 25 more minutes of exercise each week, the same survey shows, for a total average of two hours and 44 minutes each week. That self-care can have a bevy of benefits—including better over physical and mental health.
How Can I Set Up the Perfect Work-from-Home Space?
First things first: You don’t need a dedicated office in order to work from home. (But if you have one, that’s great!) What you do need is a space at which you only do work—one that functions in a way that helps you do your job well, and one that you love. Here’s how to set up that space:
- Identify what you need. What one work-from-home employee needs to do their job may not be what another needs. For example, you may need a computer—or a tablet. You may need a large workspace, or you may only need enough space to fit a laptop. You may need filing cabinets, or another kind of organisational system. So, before you start to set up your space, it’s important to come up with a list of what you’ll need. That way, you can find a space that meets those needs.
- Choose your space. Not only should your space accommodate your unique work needs, but it should be one that you can use solely for work. That will help not only with maintaining work-life balance, but with keeping you productive while “at work.” (And yes, while you can work from your bed, we don’t recommend it!) That may be a spare room or an empty wall or corner.
- Get organised. When you settle into your at-home workspace, organise it in a way that makes sense for your workflow. Be sure to place everything you need within arm’s reach, whether that is a notepad, pens, files, art supplies, or tech tools. By keeping things organised, you’ll not only be more productive, but your workspace will feel more serene—which can reduce your stress.
What Tools and Software Do I Need to Work from Home?
You’ll need different tools and technology depending on your job. But here are some gadgets and tech that can make any at-home worker’s day better, easier, or simply more organised:
- Zoom is a free service that lets you make conference calls and host video chats. It also offers real-time chat, video recording, screen sharing, calendar integrations, and more—so it’s the perfect tool for those who work in teams or want a little face-to-face time.
- Google Calendar not only helps you keep track of your own schedule, but it allows you to schedule time with others. Plus, you can make it fun with custom colours and images.
- Grammarly helps correct your grammar and spelling in emails and documents—which becomes much more important when your communication with others goes more digital.
- Wireless (noise cancelling) headphones can help you tune out whatever might be in the background—from children home from school to a spouse who’s watching television.
- A strong wireless router will help ensure you never lose connectivity with your team or clients, and that you can move throughout your home whenever that might be necessary.
How Can I Stay Productive When Working from Home?
When you work from home, there are plenty of distractions: You may feel the siren call of the television—or hear the calls of your children running through your home. Whatever your own distractions may be, here are a few times to keep you on track and maximise your productivity.
- Set a plan for housework. One of the biggest distractions when working from home can be housework—dirty dishes or laundry that needs washed, for example. And while it’s sometimes OK to step aside from work to stand at the sink, it’s not something you will want to make a habit of. Instead, try to set a plan for when housework will get done—and follow it. For example, set aside time every Wednesday morning to clean your bathroom. That way, if it’s dirty on Tuesday, you won’t be tempted to slouch on work, because you know it’ll be clean the very next day!
- Put your phone away. Your phone offers up a lot of distractions, from taking calls from friends and family during business hours to scrolling social media. If possible, it’s best to have a work phone, a landline—or a smartphone on which you only load work contacts and don’t download any non-work-related apps. If that’s not possible, then consider keeping your phone out of reach when you know you won’t need it, bringing it out only during breaks or work calls.
- Create a daily to-do list. So that you can stay on track, it’s smart to start your day with a to-do list of the things you’d like to (or need to) accomplish. You can order the list by priority, placing the most important or time-sensitive things at the top. Check things off as you do them.
How Can I Take Care of Myself When Working from Home?
Practicing self-care is important when working from home. Here are a few ways you can do it:
- Set boundaries. It’s easy to let work bleed into your life when you work from home. That’s why it’s so important to set boundaries so that you don’t find yourself working in the middle of the night—or relaxing well into the day. Set boundaries that work for you, and stick to them.
- Pack your fridge with healthy snacks. When you work from home, you may find yourself reaching for a snack more often than you did in the office. (It’s certainly easier to eat from home!) So, pack your fridge and cupboards with healthier options, so that when you do snack, you can feel good about the choices you're making.
- Take a lunch break. Hopefully, when you were in an office, you took time away from work to eat. You should do the same thing at home—walking away from your work and workspace to eat a meal and decompress before you return to the job.
- Get up and move. Don’t forget to get up and walk around! Staying active during the day can help reduce stress, aid in creativity, and stave off boredom. Plus, stretching your legs from time to time—just like you would in an office, when you leave your desk to talk to a coworker or to ask a question of your boss—is good for your health.
How Can I Set the Perfect Work-from-Home Schedule?
You may find it easier to work from home if you set some kind of schedule—something similar to what you’d have if you were working in an office. Here are some tips to set the perfect schedule:
- Have a morning routine. Each work day, it’s smart to start with a routine that gets you ready for work. That looks different person to person, of course, depending on your needs and interests, but could include anything from enjoying a cup of coffee and eating breakfast to taking a morning run. One thing that should make your morning routine no matter what? Getting dressed. Working from home in pajamas may be appealing, but doing it every day can interfere with your mental health.
- Set break times. In the office, you might have left your desk for an afternoon snack or beverage, or took a walk around the office with a coworker. Now, it’s important to have similar breaks, where you walk away from work for a few moments. So, pick up a magazine and read an article. Take a walk down the street. Call your family for a five-minute catch-up. And then, get back to your work.
- Have an end time. When you work from home, it can be tough to set boundaries—but having a clear end to your day is a non-negotiable boundary you must set for your own self-care. So, decide what time you will end your day and stick to it, not engaging in any work until the next day.
Related work from home resources
Here are some additional work-from-home resources you may find useful:
- 8 Tips for Working Home or Remotely
- Work from Home Guilt: What It Is and How to Overcome It
- 5 Misconceptions People Have About Working from Home
- 10 Tips to Avoid Burnout When Working Remotely
- 5 Ways to Stop Wasting Time at Work