Hi Waypoint fam. With the Coronavirus causing lots of companies to close up shop or move to an entirely virtual workplace, I was wondering if y’all had some best practices or tips to make working from home doable and livable. Here are a few I’ve picked up (partially inspired by the 3/13 episode of Waypoint Radio):
Log off: Seriously. Turn off your computer and stop working. It’s all too easy to stare at your computer thinking “I wasn’t as productive as I could have been today; I can keep going” or “I could just leave Slack open and be available.” If you are not working, do not work.
Figure out how you work best: Do you work best in silence? Tunes? Live rock concert? Endeavor to set yourself up to work in the environment in which you work best. I am fortunate to live by myself in an area that is more or less silent (minus the geese), so I have pretty fine control over my relative noise environment. Pro tip: Electronic music with no words will keep you from having an impromptu karaoke session (although those aren’t discouraged).
Move: About once per hour or so. Stand up. Take a lap around your domicile. Use the bathroom. Get some water. Pro tip: I have two reusable water bottles going at any given time. One on my desk and one in my fridge. When you run out, refill your desk bottle and swap it out for your fridge bottle.
If you are sick, do not work: I am still bad at this. But if you are dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, you should only be online long enough to explain why you’re going back to bed.
Personally I need to get up and treat it like I’m actually going into the office otherwise I get lazy. For real I realized pretty early on I am not suited for WFH unless I go into my office in a button up, pants and shoes.
That’s a good #5, while I’m thinking of it:
5. Routine is key: Keep working hours and try to stick to them as much as your life will allow. Set an alarm. Get up. Be online by the time your hours start. Keep your online hours consistent with your normal work hours.
6. If possible, tip generously: I haven’t ordered delivery in a while for reasons, but if you get delivery, tip as well as your financial situation allows. And if you order delivery while we’re all sequestered, if you can, tip even better than you were. This doesn’t have any bearing on your ability to work from home, but it makes me feel better to share the love when I can.
As someone who’s been WFH for 3 weeks now (and recognize I am lucky to be able to do so), I am loving this thread. I am not great at remote work. Just going to the office really helps change how I approach things, and my home is play space for me mentally, not work space.
But, things that have helped: It’s okay to stop and do house chores.. If you’re like me, taking a moment to tidy up is a huge mental break, that keeps other anxieties down. So go ahead, wash that dish.
create a work zone My place is pretty small, but I’ve set aside a corner where work occurs. It still doesn’t feel right to be doing work here, but it feels better than the rest of the apartment.
This point was SUPER important to me the first time I had a work from home job. I quickly realized that working off of my laptop in random parts of my house wasn’t productive at all, and allowed me to get distracted way too often. It really depends on your personality, and how good you are at controlling your attention, but for me, I need to specifically have a room or a corner that is the “Work Zone”.
This is the thing I enjoy most about working from home. My partner has a hard time doing dishes and laundry, but she ends up doing those chores simply because she’s the one at home. But when I’m working at home, I can do those chores instead whenever there’s a lull! It even feels more like a break than a chore when I’m doing dishes instead of staring at Slack or whatever.
I’ve been a full-time WFH person for about two years (was part-time before that for longer) and all of the advice here so far is fantastic—lots of stuff I wish I’d heard when I started out. I have a couple of things to add, and also some things to echo.
As @Wazanator said, get dressed in the morning. Have a morning routine. People sometimes talk about working from home like they roll out of bed and stay in their sleep clothes all day—trust me, that will drive you into a spiral faster than anything else. You need to create separation between your work and all the normal functions of your life. Having a morning routine is the easiest way to do that.
(That’s not to say you can’t wear sweats or pajamas or whatever if you really want to—you just need to put on a different pair.)
Everything @DarthTythus said about maintaining a normal routine. Figure out what hours work for you. Figure out what space works for you. If your living situation allows it, don’t work where you sleep or eat (this is not something I’ve been able to do, but it’s great if you can do it). Maintain boundaries between the time you’re on for work and the time you’re off—consuming entertainment, eating meals, etc. Try not to let those things overlap with each other.
Find ways to maintain some kind of social interaction with people, especially if you live alone. (And this is from someone who’s already really introverted.) Even if it’s just talking to people on the phone, or taking a walk (which should allow you to keep social distancing), or something along those lines. A little WFH really emphasizes how important those little interactions people have throughout the day are.
A lot of it really has to do with recognizing the boundaries that working in an office makes implicit and learning to make them explicit. It’s hard to do at first but there’s a lot of good advice here.
Particularly with regard to point #3 here, I want to express how much I love the Waypoint fam. We might not agree on every point in particular (see the Presidential Election thread), but you folks are welcoming and empathetic in a way I wish everyone had the chance to experience (especially in person).
I’m now on a study-from-home lifestyle since my college has been moved online and appreciate some of the tips here. Really brutal to have my last semester cut short, and because we were on break there wasn’t even time for goodbyes.
I’ve always struggled to find focus at home and generally prefer to go to a school library. Definitely will come back to this when I’m struggling.
I’m a substitute teacher in Washington. My district will be closed for at least 6 weeks starting Monday. I’ve been prepping food storage for a few weeks so I think I’m ahead of the curve on that, but I’m not going to be paid at all for 6 weeks and… That’s gonna be awful. I’m looking into filing for unemployment and it turns out that’s a confusing mess?
I’m thankful that I’m in an online Masters program that I can take at my own pace. So I’m about to get a lot of classes done.
I want to echo a few points that aren’t just Work From Home related, but to anyone stuck at home for a long period of time.
Routine: You get to decide when to wake up, but you should make that decision ahead of time. Set an alarm. If you’re working, decide on a time to start and end your work day and give yourself allotted time for breaks. “Clock out” at a certain point and let yourself be done for the day.
Breaks: You’re not actually productive at work 100% of the time are you? It’s okay to not always be productive at home. Take breaks. Move around. Talk to a roommate or play with a pet if you have those. Go outside for a bit if the weather’s nice.
Go Outside: Even you’re in a city that has shutdown, I haven’t heard anyone (in the US) telling people not to go outside at all. Wrap your face up if that makes you feel better, but get outside. You don’t need to go anywhere. You don’t need to interact with anyone. Just walk around the block a bit. Fresh air and sunlight will do you good. Even if it’s downtown Seattle air and raining.
Socialize: Call your friends and family. Play online games. Chat with a stranger on the deserted sidewalk from 20 feet away and ask what they’re doing to stay healthy, physically and mentally.
Mute Yourself: If you’re on a conference call and you’re not talking, mute yourself. All those little noises you don’t notice yourself making are amplified through your speakers.
I’ve been working from home for (checks calendar) Too Long and absolutely keeping Work Hours is key.
A thing that helps a lot for me is explicitly taking A Lunch Break - I could absolutely sit and eat lunch at my desk and keep an eye on my emails but: I am not doing that. I am at lunch, I am sitting down on the sofa and I am watching a TV show and I am not available, thanks.
My fiance often uses our spare room as a study and I’ve helped her set up a more permanent dual-monitor configuration because she does a lot of logistics and admin work, but it means I’ll be working from our kitchen table on a laptop.
How do people manage working in non-work spaces? Do you clear your work stuff out at the end of the day?
What do people recommend for keeping work out of home and leisure spaces, beyond logging off and taking proper breaks?
The “working in not-work spaces” is where the hard stop is really key. Once your hard stop hits, stop. Shut down your laptop and put it away. If you have some kind of laptop bag that you can put it in where you don’t have to look at it, so much the better. I’ll let someone who has more living space than I do handle the second set of questions.
I get one work from home day a week for the past few years now. And what I wouldn’t give for more. Not having to be face to face with my coworkers in that loud ass office, smelling their horrid greaseball lunches… It would be a dream come true.
Given the state of things currently there really isn’t any excuse for them to not have all of us working from home until this pandemic is lifted.
But they refuse to believe people can be productive when they’re not in the office.
This might be a good time to have a conversation with your manager about that (although manager mileage may vary). If your employer has the capacity to have everyone work from home simultaneously, in this environment, that’s exactly what they should be doing.