Articles & Insights

Tips for Working from Home from Someone with Experience!

By Emily Davies Ferket

Are you still struggling working from home? Here are some tips from someone who has been at home full-time for almost four years. You may have heard many of these before, but hopefully I can add some personal experiences that will give you something new to try.

When I transitioned my career and began working with Career Opportunities International, the only office environment I knew was open, active, and loud. There were always distractions but also energy, interaction, and someone to share ideas with close by.  I was very worried about adjusting to the extreme change of being entirely remote.

My key to success was focusing on my new freedom and mental health in a way I never could before. Whether you are working from home temporarily or thinking of making the change full-time, focus on the positives that you will never get from being in an office. Try new ways of working that improve your productivity and your life balance. Just like almost everything in this new, strange world, finding the silver lining is key. I hope this article will help you achieve this.

Here are some tips to try (whether you are struggling or not!):

Eliminate Distractions

You may have the opportunity for the first time in your life to create a working space that is inspiring and conducive to your best working style. This may take some trial and error with the spaces you choose as well as learning how to work with other people in your space. My perfect space has art, classical music, and no distractions from other people. You may think staring at a wall eliminates distractions, but sometimes that can be a little uninspiring too. 

It has been critical when working from home with others in the house to set very firm boundaries. For example: A door closed means you are in working mode. A door open means you can come ask me a brief question, but I am on the clock. Set rules for working hours with TV, noise, and music. A great tip from others I know: delete your social media account during the week and re-install it for the weekends. I promise you can do it!

Know when to turn it off

Emails never stop whether you work in an international environment or not. While you may have been able to manage having your work email on your phone before COVID, you may feel pushed over the top now with your lack of work/life division. You also may have created some boundaries for yourself initially but undoubtedly these slip from time to time. Utilize your significant other (this often affects them too!) or even your coworkers to keep you accountable for these boundaries.

During work hours, don’t be afraid to step away when you need to. This is another amazing advantage of working from home; you are surrounded by things that make you happy.  Step away for a minute to recharge by playing with your cat/dog, making a cup of coffee or doing something that makes you refreshed! Doing something physical like jumping jacks or yoga is great to get you going again. There is no one around to judge!

Experiment with Meditation

Meditation can be the hardest and easiest thing to do for a busy and stressed person.  The key is setting aside the time; even 15 minutes! This can be sitting in silence and listening to your breathing or focusing on repeating a positive saying. You don’t need a fancy meditation space; just a quiet place to sit (this includes your home desk). 

In the typical office space, it is almost impossible to find a quiet place for 15 minutes to begin a meditation practice. But once you become more experienced and see the benefits of meditation, this will be something you can carry with you when/if you do go back to the office regardless. There are many free meditation apps available and I recommend Nidra for beginners to meditation.

Work outside

One of my favorite benefits of working from home is getting some fresh air. Even having an open window has not been an option for me in the past, so having the ability to sit on a patio and get some Vitamin D has been amazing. This will immediately lift your mood; no matter how hot or cold it is. When you are struggling with being stuck inside and even starting to miss your commute, this is cure.

Weather will not always permit this, but you will find that even an hour of working in the sunshine will change your outlook all day. I also like to move around the house with my laptop for a change in scenery when I am feeling restless.  

Reach out to your peers

Many people are missing the human interaction more than anything right now. And some have no definitive end to home work or assurance human interaction will come back soon. Share how you are feeling with your coworkers and reach out to them. Make sure they are doing well. Schedule 10 minutes just for small talk!

If you are a manager who has a team struggling with this, schedule a “social hour” on Zoom and think of some ways to get people engaged. Set aside time to discuss things outside of work that are light and positive or even play games. I have heard of companies sending out cheese and crackers via delivery so everyone can share a snack at the same time.

In summary, take advantage of all the benefits that working from home can give you. Focus on what you have gained rather than what you miss, and make sure to find ways to give yourself the tools for balance.