You don’t have to look far these days to find advice on how to work from home. But as many of our own staff have been working from home—and collaborating across Europe—for years now, we thought we’d ask them for their top tips.
The results were… interesting. Here are some of our favourite ideas:
Don’t be a Space Invader
‘Honey, I’m home! All the time!’ You might think that you working from home will light up the life of whoever you live with. But they’re not always quite so thrilled.
Suddenly you’re in the way of their routines, their silences, their music choices, their clear path to the fridge. People who retire often find this out the hard way, resulting in lots of injuries from gardening tools and teabags.
Be respectful of the turf you’re on, and claim your own space considerately.
Curate your workspace
Still, you need to create a productive working environment when you work from home. Somewhere with enough light and fresh air where you can sit comfortably, type loudly, and curse your boss without upsetting the children (or other animals).
You also need to pretend to be civilised during video calls, so make sure your background is SFW. Our Office Maestro Ausra showed us how to create your own background in Zoom (an amazing free video conferencing tool). Give it a go!
Do what you don’t get to do at work
You may have read about the Pomodoro technique: you set a timer and work on one thing, and one thing only, for 25 minutes. Then you take a break before you go again. It makes you much more productive, wherever you’re working.
But at home, you get to change what happens in between.
Our Fran, for instance, likes to dance to Backstreet Boys videos and, occasionally, dress up for them, while finding a herbal tea to match her choice of clothes.
We could all be a bit more Fran and dance like nobody’s watching. Because (luckily for everyone) nobody is. Except for maybe the poor person you live with, but they’re used to it.
Other favourites from our staff include:
- Blasting ‘Barbie Girl’ out at full volume.
- Cuddling your dog.
- Playing a tune on a guitar/kid’s xylophone/pots and pans.
And other gems you don’t get to do at work.
Stop wearing make-up
Ladies, you can give that skin the detox it’s been craving. Keep the morning routine, but skip the make-up and let your skin have a rest.
Guys, try wearing some make-up for a change. It’s very liberating, and no one will know you’re wearing this delightful mascara that’s going surprisingly well with my beard.
At the same time, working from home means you can have Netflix on all the time, if you want to. You can snack 85 times an hour, surf the web, brush your teeth a little later (e.g. tomorrow), if you want to.
If you give in to temptations such as these, you will quickly become unproductive and smelly—and at least one of these will get noticed by your colleagues. Discipline!
Control your screen time
We didn’t evolve by sitting hunched over pixelated videos of other people doing things for hours on end. When your screen time is up, get up.
These apps can seriously reduce your screen time.
Get your work seen
One of the most worrying things about WFH is not knowing if your work is getting noticed. So collaborate visibly. Share your work on the right channels with the right people—including work in progress—and include all the relevant people whenever possible, religiously.
And on video calls with lots of people, don’t be afraid to put your hand up. It’ll get you heard.
Share the love
Loneliness is a real side-effect of working from home. But it can be countered. For the first time in human history, we have the technology to see each other through the same walls that keep us safe.
So make a conscious effort to meet on video, not just on Slack or by email. Keep those coffee machine chats alive. Ask how people are—not just work-wise—and call your friends, too. You’re still a social animal, after all.
Do the boring stuff
As with most good pieces of advice, the boring ones are true:
- Get dressed. As tempting as pyjamas/nakedness seem, you deserve better. So do your neighbours.
- Write a schedule. Value your breaks as much as your work; set daily targets, including non-work related ones, and stick to them.
- Get some exercise. You’ll work better, boost your immune system, and generally feel better. It’s worth it.
- Leave TV ’til the evening. Yes, you could have the telly on while you work. But you could work five times faster with it off—and get more downtime when you finally switch off. Properly.
Working with kids at home
That’s going to take a whole new blog post, once we’ve a) found someone who knows how to do this and b) stopped hiding in the toilet from our own children. Watch this space.
Until then: stay safe, and look after yourself.