12 Tips for Working from Home

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Considering the potential increase of the coronavirus, many companies are encouraging–or even requiring–their employees work from home. Working from home can be a difficult transition if you are not used to it: housemates can be distracting. The couch can look oh-so-comfortable, and a 20 minute nap can easily turn into an hour and 20 minute nap. Working from home can seem like the perfect opportunity to get the honey-do list completed and chores that have been piling up can look enticing. The list of readily-available distractions could continue for miles.

We understand the challenges that can come with working from home: RSC is a virtual company. This means that we have no physical office space, so every employee works from home, and we have 20 years of experience and tips we’ve collected on creating an ideal work environment in your home. Below are our staff’s first-hand recommendations. We hope you find them useful!

1) Create a “Work Only” space.

An image of a home office by a scenic window.
Create a comfortable, yet distraction-free, work space.

Aside from helping you focus on work instead of binge-watching “Frasier”, setting up an area at home that is “work-only” can signify to others that you are working and shouldn’t be bothered. Additionally, it helps you de-stress once work is over, because you can mentally “put work away” and fully enjoy the rest of the house and activities that are going on.

2) Set office hours and stick to them.

An image of a home office with a computer, notebook, and other accessories on a desk.
Stick to your office hours.

Treat work hours like sacred time. Set a schedule–it helps to keep your at-home hours the same as a usual nine-to-five workday, or whatever is typical of your organization–and don’t vary from these. Don’t justify that a 45-minute run to the store won’t effect your schedule too much. Don’t let distractions like kids, peanut butter cookies on the counter, or playing with your pets pull you away from your focus.

3) Schedule meetings for mornings.

Leaving the beginning of the work day for meetings is a great way to stay focused throughout the day, because you now have a task that helps you know what you need to accomplish. It also helps motivate you to get out of bed and work instead of pushing your schedule back and procrastinating the work day.

4) Match your work hours to the schedule of your housemates.

An image of a woman wearing glasses at a desk working on a computer. She is smiling and is in an art studio with paintbrushes.
For a distraction-free workspace, work at the same time as the people with whom you live.

Maintaining the same working hours as the people you live with is a great way to enjoy your time off once work is done. It minimizes distractions so everyone can have a quiet environment to work in and doesn’t step on each others’ toes. 

5) Take frequent breaks.

Standing up from the computer is important not only for your posture, but also for your mental health. Getting up frequently and taking a stroll around the yard or house will help you keep a fresh attitude towards work and cut down on the mundaneness of working from home. Some of our staff hold to a strict “get up every hour” rule.

6) Schedule “Leave the House” time.

An image of a dog laying under a desk and office chair while someone in blue jeans, sitting at the desk, works.
Schedule a time to get out of the house and stretch your legs.

Schedule a time to get out of the house and detach from work. Usually, this would include activities like going out to lunch, working out at a gym, or taking a yoga class, but with the stay-in-place mandate applicable to most of us, this principle looks a little different right now. Going for a walk or drive can be great substitutes for this. If you have a garden or yard, walk around it. Even using technology like a wii could help you get in the mindset that will help you de-stress from work and clear your head.

7) Schedule your meals.

On the topic of breaks, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the “I’ll just do one more thing” mentality and forget to eat regular meals. Scheduling a specific time for your meals can help you keep a consistent schedule, maintain energy for the work day, and reinforce taking frequent breaks.

An infographic with RSC's twelve tips for working from home listed.

8) Get ready in the morning just as if you’re going to work.

Dressing the same way you would for the office can help you mentally get in the zone to work, separate your “work-only” space from the rest of the house, and keep you focused on tasks: even the rote, mundane ones. Changing clothes once you’re done working into lounge-around-the-house attire helps you relax and separate even more from the office.

9) Don’t go straight to your workspace in the morning.

An image of a home office in a bedroom with calendars on the wall, a surfboard leaned against the wall, and a small shelf.
Refrain from sleeping right up until your work hours in order to get a few more minutes of sleep.

Give yourself time to ease into the day, enjoy the morning, and prep for work just like you would any other day. Let your house be your house for a little bit before you go into work mode. This, just like many of the previous points, will help you separate the spaces between work and home so you can de-stress after work.

10) Use a headset or noise canceling headgear.

Minimize distractions by using a quality, noise-cancelling headset for when you’re in meetings or listening to music to stay focused. You won’t be able to hear anything that may want to distract you. You’ll be able to  focus well so the day relatively flies by.

11) Invest in equipment to help your posture and joints.

An image of a supportive desk chair by a wood desk with a computer on it.
Invest in supportive equipment for your home office.

Giving your body good support will help make your at-home office comfortable. It’s not worth it to ruin your back, neck, hands, wrists, etc. while working. Some essential pieces to consider for your home office may be:

  • Supportive chair with adjustable height
  • Adjustable-height computer stand for sitting and standing
  • Keyboard for carpel tunnel
  • Mouse for carpel tunnel
  • Footrest
  • extra back support

12) Take advantage of some creature comforts, but not too many.

An overhead image of a woman sitting with her legs outstretched on a bed or couch, working on a computer.
If sitting on the couch helps you focus, then take advantage of that. But don’t use so many creature comforts that you can’t focus.

If you work better with some background noise that you wouldn’t usually be able to put on in the office, then put on some music or white noise. If you have a favorite window to sit by, or a favorite spot in your house, then set up your workspace in that area. If you have a favorite coffee, tea, or beverage that you don’t usually get at work, then pour yourself some of that.

Creature comforts can easily infringe on the “Creating a ‘Work Only’ Space” idea discussed above. It’s easy to surround yourself with too many. Determine which ones and how many help you stay focused and which ones don’t.


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Bob Stephen’s Top 10 Business Books: #2 “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life”

I reference Marilee Adams’ book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life all the time. It has helped me immensely in my communication in the business world, because I have been able to strengthen my relationships with people.

It’s written in a narrative format, following the story of a man who has been having challenges at work and, because of that, decides that he wants to resign. He is counseled to talk to someone about his challenges before stepping away from the job. His journey and solutions are insightful, as he discovers that there are two different approaches to every situation: judging and learning.

Judger

We as humans beings naturally see things from our perspective. We want to judge situations and events according to how they line up to the world we’ve built for ourselves. Applying a single-viewed approach to any situation can lead to judging it incorrectly and reaching false conclusions, instead of asking questions to better understand why people act the way they do, why a problem was handled a certain way, or why the desired results are not being realized.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

One of my responsibilities outside of work includes participating in a board of members that handles travel and finances for a local organization. The communication style is such that members are constantly pointing their fingers at each other and trying to find  fault with one another for any problems that arise. I eventually decided to resign because the amount of exercise and energy it took for me to stay on the choice chart was overwhelming, and for my own personal growth, I chose to resign because I did not want to fall into the Judger Pit.

Learner

When we discount our tendency to jump to conclusions, and decide instead to ask questions that will help us better understand, some difficult and stressful situations will become experiences that allow us to level with people and strengthen relationships.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

A few years ago, a client of mine needed some help with the application my business provides. I chose a bright, quick employee, that I trusted would get the job done, to call the client and figure out what needed to be done. A few weeks later, my CFO came to me and said that this employee had used company time and money to fly to the client, book a hotel room, and pay for meals. I was confused and felt betrayed, because to my knowledge, the task would only have taken a phone call and a couple of hours.

I decided to apply the asking questions approach, instead of my usual approach that would lead to anger. I called the employee and asked what I hadn’t explained well about the assignment. The employee then recounted to me that he had called the client and realized that the task was not one, but multiple tasks, and that the client had authorized to pay for everything.

I am so glad that I asked instead of just getting angry. I understood the situation much better now, and I could see the logic behind the employees’ choices.

“Switching Lane”: Moving from Judger to Learner

Beginning to process an event as a judger does not mean that you will be limited to viewing things from a single perspective. The “Choice Map” allows us to see that there are different paths we all choose to take when tackling difficult situations. We can choose half-way through an event to see things as a learner.

How I’ve Applied This Approach

I have had many experiences when I think I am explaining something very well, and notice negative reactions, or at least reactions that are contrary to what I expected. I take those opportunities to switch from a judger to a learner and ask questions that will help everyone to feel closer and strengthened. I try to apply this in our Tech and Staff Meetings. I oftentimes will have to ask for clarification and/or other questions so I can understand better and help my staff become more unified.

Learning This Approach Is a Process

We all naturally want to approach events and situations from a judger perspective. Honing the skills necessary to become a learner instead of a judger is a lifelong process. Consistently choosing to change your approach to situations will help with this process, but it is choice.


Like what you read? Subscribe to the blog and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin to keep up to date with the latest news from RSC, LLC.
Thoughts? Questions? Comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear your insights.