5 pieces of advice for effective working from home

Nowadays a lot of companies decide to work from home due to quarantine. For many people work from home sounds like a paradise - freedom, no traffic issues to get to the office and back home, the opportunity to focus on the tasks and relax whenever you want. Yes, all this is true, but a lot of people do not have an experience of working from home so freedom and independence may come with a big price to pay, so that the paradise may turn into hell.

This post may be helpful for those who never had experience working regularly from home. I would encourage the rest to leave your best practices and lifehacks for working from home in the comments.

I have more than 2 years of experience working remotely as a Software Engineer and Consultant for a global company, and I have 5 pieces of advice for you so that you won't make my mistakes and enjoy your working from home time.

1) Set up a Convenient working environment - a comfortable chair and desk, a good and stable Internet connection can make a difference. Explain to your family and/or room-mates, that during the work-time you are busy and you should not be distracted unless it is an urgent case. Ideally would be to set up the working place in a separate room. It is also very important to separate your work and rest environments. One of the possible approaches would be to make some routine before the workday which would switch your space in the "work mode", for example: rearrange items on your desk, removing all unnecessary, wear you office-outfit, some sources advice even wearing shoes - anything which will allow you to fill that you are in the different space will work. It is also very important to switch off "work mode" after, otherwise, you might not be able to relax and have a rest.

2) Time management - tasks. One of the possible solutions - split your workday into several slots 1-1.5 hours each. Before the start of the day read the inbox and sort your emails/tasks by priority (high, medium, low) and by due-date (today, tomorrow, this week). Then start working on the tasks according to priority. After the time-slot completed go through the inbox again and reorder tasks if needed. After this make a short pause - this is a suitable moment to have a cup of tee or coffee and relax for several minutes. Then start the next slot. In general time management may allow you to work more effectively, enjoy your working process and have less stress. Read some book on time management to select a better approach if the one described above does not fit you. Getting Things Done by David Allen is one of the most popular books, but in my opinion, it is not so important to follow exactly this book - as a lot of different Time management practices describe similar approaches to achieve the same goal. So just try and find the best one for you.

3) Communication - it is always a challenge to communicate well while working remotely because some questions which take just a couple of minutes in the office may take hours when you are working from home due to communication issues. Here are some approaches, helping to keep a proper level of communication:

  • - visit regular meetings to have information sync with your team-mates;
  • - try to reply to any message/email not longer than 1 hour after you received it;
  • - if an email or message requires more than 3 minutes to reply or contains more than 3 questions to discuss - set up a meeting instead of long message threads;
  • - in case of blocker or if you are stuck with some issue - set up a meeting to show the problem to your co-worker and get some advice or the second opinion;
  • - pair-coding remote sessions may be also very helpful.

4) Fresh air and physical activity are very important for wellness and performance. Try to open your window regularly, i.e. once per 1 hour to get fresh air into the room. 10 minutes of yoga, kettlebell, push-ups or any other physical activity you like will help you to relax much better than any youtube video or browsing in social networks. It is very easy to lose a track of time while working on interesting tasks and sit all day at the computer. Try to walk before and after work time, so that you will have enough fresh air and sunlight. In the current situation, it is better to avoid crowded places of course.

5) Take Sick leave if you don't feel well. Though many people consider continuing working from home while they have a fever, I would not recommend doing so, as not only such efforts are most likely not effective, but also increase the health risks and result in the longer recovery time. So if you don't feel well - just take sick leave, have help from the doctor if required and have a good rest.

What do you find the most challenging in your working from home experience?

I also recommend to see other articles:

Five Crucial Tips For Working From Home

A small guide on working remotely: Thoughts and some advices