Working from home
How to stay productive in your home office
Remote work requires a special blend of detached discipline and solo mental fortitude in order to stay productive. Keep your focus and stay sharp with these tips. Make your dream a reality. Create your own schedule and cut out the commute.
Improve your environment
"Focused work requires a focused space."
Working from your dining table or couch with a laptop doesn’t always work well. You’ll want to choose a room which can be closed off from the rest of the house. Keep it presentable for remote conferencing or surprise video chats. Make sure there’s adequate room for you and your supplies and don’t skimp on equipment.
One great thing about working from home is that you can choose your own furniture. Don’t be afraid to invest in some quality pieces. You’ll be spending most of your time there, so be sure that it’s comfortable and functional. In addition to the obvious desk and chair, every office should have a whiteboard, a cork board, sticky notes, and a bookcase. Display some knick-knacks and cool gadgets just as you would in a corporate office, but keep the clutter to a minimum.
"Do whatever you can to protect yourself from distractions."
Keep your cellphone on silent/vibrate, just like you would in a normal office environment. Family and friends are not lounging around at a regular office interrupting people, and you should communicate that you have similar expectations for your home office. Don’t keep any distracting personal media on your work computer since TV, movies, and video games can be tempting. Use the internet from your home office in the same way you would use it from a regular office. Don’t get distracted by memes or Facebook.
Separate work and home
"Clear boundaries are essential."
It can be difficult even under normal circumstances to separate work from your home life. When working from a home office it’s even more challenging. There are small changes you can make to help manage that separation.
When you’re in work mode you might use a desktop computer from a standing desk with the curtains closed while using headphones. When you’re not working, you could use a tablet from a sitting desk with the curtains open while using speakers. You can do a similar thing with software, using different browsers for work and personal tasks to maintain separation. Little things like this will go a long way in keeping you productive during work hours.
"Do something outside before “going to“ work or “coming home“."
Being in the same place too long can contribute to cabin fever. Try doing something extra like exercising or visiting a cafe. Don’t forget to take breaks while working, your eyes and your back will thank you.
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re working alone, so set alarms for the start and end of your workday. After the day is over make sure to step outside for a while. Take a walk or go out to dinner to decompress and change the scenery. Being at home on weekdays makes it even more important to leave the house on weekends, so make time to head to the park, to the beach, or check out a pub in the neighboring town.
Obtain reliable tools
"Make sure everything in your dedicated workspace is reliable."
Network quality can have a huge impact on remote work. Buy a high-quality router. Get decent cables to go with that new router (old kinked or frayed cables can impact connection quality). Optimize your wifi. Take some time to implement quality of service (QoS) rules in your router and prioritize your work computer over the rest of the household. Chances are your ISP’s DNS settings aren’t great either, so I suggest using a service like 220.127.116.11. Get at least one reliable and fast internet service provider. You should consider getting a second ISP as a redundant failover or to keep your work internet separate from your home internet.
Just another day at the office
While working from home provides some additional freedoms that a traditional office does not, I recommend treating it much like a regular office. It takes a good toolset, professional environment, and discipline to stay productive and produce good work, whether or not you have a supervisor looking over your shoulder.
5 tips for remote employees
1. CARVE OUT A DEDICATED WORKSPACE
This should be your first priority when starting with Chaine. Where you work is as important as what you work on and who you work with. Aim to dedicate a space where only work occurs, enabling you to focus while you’re there and disconnect when you exit. The execution of this will look different depending on your workspace and who is present during your working hours, but the key is to find a space that is purely for work. If you don't have the right setup (desk, chair, lighting, etc...), ask your immediate manager to help you get this set up.
2. SEPARATE WORK FROM LIFE
This is likely to be the most difficult hurdle to clear, particularly for new work-from-home employees who have family in the home. You should have a dedicated conversation with family, helping them understand that just because you're home, that doesn't mean you're available. A shortcut to boundary setting is this: "If it's important enough that you'd commute to my usual office and come to my desk, then it's important enough for you to visit my home workspace." You may also consider a busy/ available indicator.
When there's no physical office to leave, it's easy to work longer than is expected (or healthy). If useful, set reminders to begin and end work, and plan activities to fill the void where a commute once stood. Proactively planning what you'll do with your commute time is key to ramping into a workday and ramping off. This will look different for each individual, but leaving your home for a walk or running an errand is a great way to create unmistakable separation.
3. ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE
When there’s no office to influence spontaneous informal communication, you must be intentional to weave it into your day.
- Attend chai time! We do it daily at 4pm IST.
- Schedule regular happy hours using a video call.
- Talk about what you normally would. If sports, vacation plans, and hilarious tales of insubordination by children are common water-cooler material, work with your team to establish a chat channel to discuss things outside of work. The medium may be different, but the connection is the same.
- Drop any shame or embarrassment. Everyone is in the same boat — a forced work-from-home arrangement with no preparation. Don't worry about your background, and feel welcome to let your pets and family find their way into calls on occasion. It humanizes the experience and reminds everyone that we're people first, and colleagues second.
- Connect with family and community. Working remotely gives you an opportunity to spend time with a different set of people than just your coworkers. Look for opportunities to build bonds with others, which may have been impossible or limited when you had a commute.
4. RESPECT THE ROUTINE, BUT EXPERIMENT WITH CHANGE
While asynchronous workflows is a significant benefit of an all- remote team, temporary work-from-home arrangements may be less amenable to massive swings in time zone adoption. If this is the case, it's wise to formulate a routine that closely aligns with your prior routine.
However, don’t feel beholden to a routine. A perk of remote is the ability to experiment with unconventional working days. It's understood that not everyone shares the same peak hours of energy and focus. If you feel that you work best in late evenings, for example, have that conversation with your team and experiment with a non-linear workday.
5. ROLL WITH THE CHANGES
Relax: you aren't born knowing how to work from home. Companies shifting from onsite teams to remote are likely to experience growing pains. If not taken in stride, this friction can cause serious harm — operationally as well as culturally. Remember that transitioning to remote, even if temporary, is a process. As you adapt to remote work, be open to trying and experimenting with new ways of working, communicating, and scheduling your day. .