As I write this post, I'm sitting in my home in a comfortable chair and desk set up, listening to Charlie Puth’s Attention on loop. I've been working from home for about five years now and there's a lot I have to say about it.
One the most common statements that I get from people when I tell them I work from home is, “It’s so great as you save a lot of travel time.” Another friend would say, “But don’t you get bored working alone?”
The answer to both these statements is "yes".
Working from home has much more to it than just working for hours in your pyjamas. In order to master the art of working from home, you need to have the right essentials and setup to make this experience productive as well as fun.
Here, I've handpicked a list of things that I have learnt over the years that make it easier to work from home.
Start by picking up a place in your house where you'll be comfortable working. Make sure your workspace is not just any other place in your home like the dining table or that comfy chair in the living room.
Your workspace should offer you enough privacy and let you work without any distraction. It should also have a comfortable chair with armrest and a spacious desk.
If you do not have a spare room, you can always choose a quiet corner and set it up accordingly. Adequate sunlight is also an important element to consider when selecting your workspace.
2. A Perfect Chair-Desk Combo
It's also important to have the perfect chair as you’re going to spend a big chunk of your day in it. Spend those extra bucks and invest in a good chair that has an ergonomic design.
Try it several times before buying it. Make sure to look for good back and arm support and something that'd be comfortable for those long working hours.
Also, look for a desk that compliments your chair. Get the appropriate size that's not too big or too small. It's better to have a compact setup that makes it easy to maintain.
3. High-speed Internet is a Must
I cannot stress enough on how important it is to have a high-speed Internet connection when you are working from home. Make sure your Internet service provider (ISP) is trusted and offers prompt customer support.
Invest in a quality high-speed modem and a router that offer a good range so you can change your workplace in the house conveniently.
4. Backup for Power and Internet
Even when you're working from home, you have deadlines to meet and your electronic devices need to be up and ready for hassle-free work. Get a power backup for your power worries.
Important Tip: Make sure to have spike busters or enough power points near your desk to plug your electronic devices.
It's important to have a dongle or a decent data plan on your phone for backup that can take over your Internet worries until the Wi-Fi issue is resolved.
5. Decorate Your Workspace
Who doesn't want to work on a pretty desk? Personalize your workspace with all your favorite things. If possible, get a corkboard and pin photos, postcards, and inspiring quotes that are meaningful to you.
Decorate your desk with cute toys or figurines to make it more personal. Struggling with ideas? Just head to Pinterest or Tumblr to get some inspiration.
Accessorize your table with things that bring a smile to your face. Also, make it a point to clean the table at the end so you start afresh the next day.
6. Get a Plant and Scented Candles
It is advised to have a lot of greens in your food. Well, get some greens for your workspace as well. Adding a touch of green to your desk will brighten it up and also make you feel fresh. Studies have proven that plants help in boosting productivity and reducing stress.
You can even light up some scented candles when you are working to calm you. These small additions will help you churn some creative juices.
7. Invest in a Bluetooth Speaker
You have the liberty to turn up the music and even jam to your favorite tracks as you are not in an office. Invest in a good Bluetooth speaker as it will be your companion during the everyday toil of work.
You can even try more soothing soundtracks like sounds of nature or jazz instrumentals to keep you calm while working. If you’re doing repetitive tasks, an audiobook or podcast can also be a nice option.
8. Dress Up for Work...or Not!
I personally have mixed opinions on getting dressed while working from home. I love working in comfy sweatpants and t-shirts.
However, there have been several occasions when I miss the getting-ready-for-work drill. That’s when I put my favorite dress on and go for a semi-casual look. Ladies, don’t shy away from primping your face with a dash of make-up as well.
Apply your favorite nail-polish and post a few #goodhairday selfies on Instagram.
Believe me, these might seem like small things but they all add up to a happy mind that eventually leads to a productive day at work.
9. Plan and Prepare Your Meals
This is one of the scenarios where the time saved in travelling to the office can be put to real use. Plan and prepare your meals in advance so you don’t end up spending more time in the kitchen.
Prepare two or three meals in large quantities so you are sorted for at least a couple of days. However boring it might sound, eating homemade meals has actually saved me tonnes of money over the years.
10. Stock Up on Snacks and Munchies
Now that we are dealing with the topic of food, let me remind you to stock up on some munchies. The temptation to snack while working from home is relentless.
Granola bars, a handful of nuts, fruits, and candies are some healthy options you can have around.
Avoid having long gaps between your meals. Around 2-3 cups of green tea or flavored yogurt are also two healthy fillers for your tummy. Of course, an occasional pair of donuts, cupcakes or a bag of chips won't hurt you.
11. Have a Fixed Work Timing
It is very important that you are clear about your working hours. Set up fixed working hours and stick to them as much as you can. Make sure to fix your work schedule with your employers at the time of accepting the job.
Although there is a certain amount of flexibility when you work from home, it does not and should not be a reason for you to work extra hours into evenings and weekends. In case you are working as a freelancer, try to divide your personal and work-time and stick to the schedule.
12. Proactive Communication with Colleagues and Manager
Now that you have got used to working alone in your own space, make sure you're not isolating from the world. There have been times when I have worked for hours without talking to anyone and this can become a problem in the long run.
Try to talk to your colleagues over messaging apps or give them a quick call. Make an effort to build a rapport with them.
Make sure you keep a good relationship on a personal level as well as a professional level. Think of this as a professional long-distance relationship.
Also, update your manager about your work from time to time. Let them know about the concerns or problems you might be facing as you are working remotely. Be proactive in all types of communication, it will only make it easier for you to work more efficiently.
13. Take Enough Breaks
Plan breaks for yourself and space them out over the day. Make sure you get up from your desk during those breaks. You can get some fresh air, take a small walk and, most importantly, try and talk with another human being if possible.
These activities will help you reset and get through the rest of the day more easily. Try planning how you’ll spend your breaks ahead of time, so you have something to look forward to.
A dedicated workspace is ideal when you are working from home in the long run. However, it's always nice to have a change of surroundings once in a while. You can head over to the nearest cafe that has a decent Wi-Fi connection and work over a hot cup of latte.
Another option would be renting an affordable co-working space for a couple of days. This can be a nice change that'd break the monotony of working from home.
15. Move Your Neck and Eyes More Often
Finally, I cannot stress enough on the importance of stretching. Make sure that you are doing simple exercises to move your body while working for long hours.
Focus on your neck, back, and eyes and just stretch enough to loosen up the muscles. Try to make this a habit and follow it as it will be helpful to your body in the long run.
Make Working from Home Work
Lastly, you need to understand that working from home requires a great amount of discipline. Comfy beds and the liberty to wear sweatpants all day may be enough to distract you from your work goals and deadlines.
I've been following most of the aforementioned things for years and they have helped me in maintaining the professional element of my job. It's very important that you consider yourself as a professional first. This will help others to understand the seriousness of your profession.
Are you working from home? Have any more tips to add to this list? We'd love to know.