18 tips for working from home

We’re a remote company, and have been since we started over 10 years ago.

It’s not always easy (what is?), but if you get a few things in place it can be great – for your work and your people.

Given what’s going on, we asked everyone in the team what makes working from home, work for them.

Here are our best tips when working from home:

  • Enjoy the silence: It’ll probably feel a bit weird at first, but embrace the calm and you’ll be able to really focus. It can to feel like you’re missing ‘something’ when working from home, or that you’re not as busy as you are at the office. This is because office life is full of people and distractions. They make our days feel full, but we can do without a lot of it. It’s over-stimulation, constant distraction. It’s ok to be quiet. Give it a go.
  • Ergonomics matter: working from home may be a temporary arrangement, but the hours will quickly add up. Hours spent in an uncomfortable position with your laptop on a sofa will bring about strains and aches. Set up a proper desk or tabletop with your screen at a comfortable height. Most of us use a big external monitor, keyboard and a mousepad. Use the most comfortable a chair you get hold of.
  • Go feng shui: create a designated workspace at home, where the work lives and doesn’t stray away from too much. If you have a separate study: brilliant. If not, use a specific corner and set up your ‘office’ over there. And remember: the office is for working. You rest, lunch and play somewhere else.
  • Don’t let the banter die: working from home can be isolating, so make sure you stay in regular touch with your team above and beyond the work. Use your IM platform of choice to stay in contact about trivial things and keep the team spirit alive. You’re all in this together. Really important! We’ve just been treated to pics of Chaz’s dog asleep on the sofa. Bad dog.
  • Give your self permission to take breaks: deprived of watercooler moments and office politicking, you may find yourself very productive and focused when working from home. But avoid wearing yourself thin for hours on end: take a break every hour, make a cuppa, look out of the window or pop out to the garden. That will only help you focus better in the longer run.
  • Change scenery, once in a while: if you’re able to (obviously to a COVID-19 safe spot…), consider popping out to a local cafe with your laptop for a couple of hours.
  • Get a headset: you don’t want environmental noises to disrupt your calls. Your client may enjoy your cat’s background meowing, but what if they’re more of a dog person? Noise-cancelling headsets can be really helpful too.
  • Move it move it: Remember to get up and move / stretch. It is easy to get hunched over, cease up; get cold (!) or dead legs! Easy to get ‘in the zone’ and not look up.
  • Drink lots of water: try not to be a tea / coffee addict. Make yourself a nice bottle of infused water to make it feel special and more appealing to glug away (we like mint and cucumber to perk us up, orange peel or basil work well too..)
  • Don’t be the stereotype in your pj’s: you’re going into work, dress for the day, put on some coffee to start you off.
  • Plan your day: know what you want to achieve and set yourself chunks of time to work on. Breaks (and coffee stops) are important but can be good to use as ‘rewards’ for bursts of time or project stages you complete / things you tick off.
  • Set the vibe: playlists can really help at different times of the day or as the soundtrack to different jobs you’re working on. Here are some to get you started…
  • Plan your meals: working from home can really help with having healthy eating habits or it can have the opposite effect due to lack of planning. Make sure you have proper meals / snacks planned for the week. Nutrition and effectiveness go hand in hand. Tip: set an alarm to remind yourself it’s time for a snack / water.
  • Don’t work when sick: it’s easy to be tempted to work when you’re sick if you don’t have to leave the house but productivity won’t be the same and it will take 3 times longer to get back to 100%.
  • Get out of the house: even if you may struggle during the day due to workload, make sure you are arranging activities with friends, going to the pub once in a while and doing “real-life” things… you don’t want to become a hermit!
  • Treat the day like a workday: start early, take a lunch break at lunchtime, finish so you have a whole evening ahead of you
  • Prepare your space: spend a bit of time in the morning / evening making sure your workspace is free from clutter. Wash any dishes, stick some washing on, get the distractions out of the way early.
  • Learn from others: we’ve found Remote by the Basecamp team to be a great source of inspiration.

Good luck!

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