Even before COVID19 changed the landscape on working from home, it’s become an increasingly popular choice for the modern workforce. It’s also a convenient option for a variety of reasons, from caring for young children or housetraining a new puppy to avoiding spreading an illness if you’re under the weather but not too sick to work.

There are many situations where people who haven’t yet worked from home may want — or have — to do so. Let’s look at some practical advice for working remotely.

Create a productive space …

Offices are designed to facilitate work and give employees the resources needed to effectively do their jobs. When you work from home, you should try to create a similar environment.

If you already have a home office, you can easily start utilizing that space to work remotely. If you don’t, find an area in your living space where you can organize all of your resources and avoid distractions. You’ll also want to make the area comfortable. Consider investing in a comfortable, adjustable office chair that keeps your feet, knees, hips and elbows at 90 degree angles when sitting at your desk. Also, you may want to spend some extra money and invest in an adjustable desk that gives you the option of standing while working—these are great to keep the blood circulating throughout your body and keep your tendons from tightening up.

Online meeting and video conferencing tools are especially important for remote workers to connect with colleagues and supervisors, whether they’re in the office or also working from home. Make sure to pick a place with minimal background noise, good lighting and a decent backdrop. I recommend hosting a video conference with only yourself in attendance and your camera on to see how others will see you and your background before you host or attend a meeting.

… And enjoy the flexibility of a personalized work area

Working in an office means taking everyone’s needs into account. Offices have to enable productivity for everyone involved. A home office caters to your specific needs. Consider these attractive perks that come with working from home:

• Playing music, news, or podcasts without having to wear headphones.

• Making a fresh meal for lunch instead of bringing it to work or paying to go out to eat.

• Freely moving around and working in your home office without having to worry about making noise or distracting others.

While it’s crucial to focus on the task at hand, a home office lets you do so in a way that’s uniquely suited to your personal style of working.

Build a schedule that works for you

No matter where you work, you’ll need to hit deadlines and attend important meetings at scheduled times. However, you can take advantage of less-structured periods during the workday. You can set aside part of your lunch hour to catch up on chores or errands, or simply take a walk in your neighborhood.

Inc. contributor Christina DesMarais pointed out that a work from home environment gives you more flexibility when your focus starts to dip or a particularly complicated project reaches a critical juncture. Taking a little time to actively think through strategies or let your subconscious consider a solution is easier when you’re in space that you enjoy complete control over.

Create and follow a routine

Routines help create the right frame of mind for everything from exercising and cooking to a consistent focus during the workday. PC Magazine has noted that the specifics of a morning routine are flexible. Whether you prepare the same way you would before you head into the office or take a different approach, your routine should align with putting you in the right frame of mind to start work.

For many, the regular routine when working from home entails dressing up as if they were going into the office and resisting the temptation of putting on sweatpants or yoga pants. How you dress can put you in the right state of mind to get work done.

Similarly, you should build a routine at the end of the day to help you transition back into focusing on your personal life. That may mean ensuring all of the items on your to-do list are crossed off and double checking your schedule for tomorrow’s important meetings and deadlines. Having a plan to concretely end the workday helps you keep your home and work life separate, even though you’re in the same physical space.

Leverage modern solutions for collaboration

Working from home means there’s some physical distance between you, your colleagues, and your supervisors and managers. However, there are a variety of powerful systems available to bridge that gap and ensure you remain connected to the heart of your company’s operations.

You should consider having these 3 core tools at your disposal to make sure you do not skip a beat when working from home:

• Video Conferencing App: Virtual meetings with video create the ability to see who you are engaging with, no matter where they are.  Looking someone in the eye always establishes better rapport and a stronger inter-personal connection.  Plus, these apps enable you to share your computer screen so you can virtually work side-by-side with your colleagues.

Team Messaging App: Messaging apps allow for timely, off-the-cuff conversations with attachments and key information that can be saved in a thread for later use. Messages can be posted anytime of the day, allowing discussions and the exchange of ideas to occur in real-time. There can be 1:1 or group messages aligned around teams or projects. This helps keep everyone connected and information can be collected and disseminated quicker than it would have been over text or phone.   

• Document Sharing/Collaboration Platform: Taking messaging a step further, document sharing via a collaboration platform allows documents to be shared and edited together, in real-time.

As technology has moved to the cloud, all these tools are easily accessible to anyone who finds themselves in a situation where remote work is a necessity, or who chooses to explore remote working arrangements. With these tools in hand, and the proper home office setup, you’ll be just as productive as in your company office—if not more.


This story was written by the experts at Cisco Webex.