#Ideas

How do I work from home? — a few notes from 8 years of doing just that

3 min read...

Background

I’ve written in the past about remote work and working from home. I’d like to share a few tips for folks who might have found themselves recently working from home.

Tips

  • Keep a routine
  • Have a space just for work
  • Take breaks
  • Be aware of household noise (HVAC/AC, dishwasher, others, etc)
  • Internet connectivity
  • Get outside
  • Stay social
  • Stop working

The Deets:

  • Keep a routine
    • Get up and follow your normal work routine. You don’t have to commute, so either get a little extra sleep or do self-care
    • If you’re accustomed to a long commute, go for a quick walk to ‘get out of the house’, and get right to work
  • Have a space just for work
    • Don’t work from bed
    • Have a space you only work in, you need psychological separation between ‘work’ and ‘home’
      • If you don’t have a separate room, take out and put away your work laptop each morning and evening
  • Take breaks
    • It’s easy to focus in; after all, no one is going to be stopping by your desk
    • Take a 5 min break each hour, even if you just stand up, move around, and sit back down
    • Get outside during lunch
  • Be aware of household noise (HVAC/AC, dishwasher, others, etc)
    • Especially true when on calls/video conferencing
    • Be aware of your background sounds during video calls
  • Internet connectivity
    • Upload speed tends to be more important for quality video & audio conferencing, most internet is advertised and sold as download speed
    • Use 5 GHz wifi if available– it’s less prone to interference from neighbors, less buffering, lag, video/audio breakups, etc.
    • It’s best to physically plug into your router if you can
  • Get outside
    • You’ll thank me on day or week 3
  • Stay social
    • It’s easy to get isolated
    • Instant messaging (aka Slack) is good, but sometimes a phone call is better
  • IM/Email/Phone/Video
    • Text communication should be clear
    • Don’t forget you can call people, even a couple minutes can be more productive than instant messaging or emailing
    • Don’t imply tone or meaning — when in doubt get on the phone or video chat
    • Always mute when 3 or more people are on a call/video conference
    • Be wary of many-people video/audio conferences, like many in-person meetings, often too many people are included and don’t need to be. This amplifies when digitally conferencing. Keep conferencing small, and meetings specific
  • Stop working
    • It’s really easy to just keep working, you need to stop at some point
    • Constant small amounts of work will eventually weigh on your long term, it’s ok to have the ability to work, but not use it 😬– don’t get burned out
  • Work out of the house
    • Normally I’d recommend getting out of the house, but with the current circumstances of COVID19, I can’t recommend that at this time.

Final Thoughts & Opinions

Working from home can seem fun. Working from home can seem daunting. At the end of the day, you’re still working, it’s just a different context.

I’ll probably be writing some more detailed posts in the near future concerning how to measure & manage remote workers; so stay safe and stay tuned!


About the author:

Andrew lives in Portland, OR and has worked in tech for over 15 years. With a foundation in philosophy, political theory, and communications, he is an avid thinker & tinkerer, constantly learning and exploring the world around us. 

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