Set Specific guidelines and expectations for yourself and those around you.
Set and Keep a Routine
It’s important to treat a workday at home very similar to a workday in the office. Have a schedule. Get up and get ready for work as you would if you were going into the office (although you don’t need to dress up quite the same). Keep to standard ‘office’ hours. Minimise home chores to lunch breaks so as to not get distracted. And maybe able to squeeze in a bit more work without the commute, but keep it in check.
If you have a spare room you can use as your home office, that is great. But it doesn’t need to be that elaborate. Set up an area of your home/apartment/room as your designated workspace. Start each workday there. If you like to move around, you can do so as the day progresses and you get into the workflow, but oftentimes it’s easier to get your day started when you are in a designated work area.
Being home during your workday means it’s easy for the lines between your work-life and personal like to blur. Set specific guidelines and expectation for yourself and those around you. Discuss with your spouse, roommate, children exactly when you’re not and make sure that’s clearly communicated at all times. On the other hand, be sure to know when to sign off and put your work away.
Do you get stir crazy? Does ‘watercooler’ chat get you through the day? If you are craving that extra bit of stimulation, listen to yourself instead of pushing through it. Build yourself a ‘work’ playlist, schedule team check-ins and 1v1s, and let yourself stem away during the day when you feel burnt out. Consider virtual team/co-worker lunches, with Zoom / Slack / Google Hangouts video conferencing on, to get some lighter social time in. The key here is listening to your own needs to make sure you don’t burn out and can handle this system of working long term.
Particularly for those of us used to working in office environments, the adjustment to working from home can be significant. If you work on a team or your work requires a great deal of collaboration, remember that (over) communication is the key. This will save time and energy for all parties and make your entire team more efficient. If your team follows Agile practices, stick with your daily Standups and Routines. Meet in the morning to go over what you did yesterday, what you are planning to do today, and any blockers you are facing. If you don’t follow Agile, now is a good time to incorporate some elements into your routine to help improve communication
When you are working remotely, it’s easy for time to become a sort of amorphous blob. But to actually be productive, it’s essential to keep a routine as much as possible. Setting a start time and an end time for your working day helps you to focus, adds structure, and ensure you don’t get so lost in a task that you end up overworking and burning out.