March 31, 2020
Tips and Tricks For Managing-From-Home (From a Full Time Remote Manager)
It’s 2020, and more companies are allowing employees to work from home more frequently, often as much as they would like. At Metric Theory, employees have the benefit of unlimited work from home days. Personally, I’ve spent the past two years working for Metric Theory remotely, so I really know what it’s like to work from home all of the time. Long-term working from home may not suit every personality, but as an introvert (and Enneagram Type Five), I have thrived working remotely for Metric Theory. I’ve learned how to make my time productive, enjoyable, and very comfortable. If you struggle making WFH as productive as being in-office or are worried about making the leap to permanent WFH, I put together some tips and tricks that will hopefully help make your experience a success.
I want to start off by addressing one of the hardest things about working from home, and that is isolation. The one thing I miss most about working in an office is the comradery shared by coworkers. It’s much easier to celebrate wins together and ask quick questions when you can simply turn your chair around to ask someone face-to-face. It’s important to make a proactive effort to stay connected to your coworkers that you don’t see on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. If you don’t work to make this part of your routine, it’s easy to feel isolated and forgotten about.
One of the most successful methods that I’ve found to combat this is turning all of my calls into video meetings whenever possible. This may sound like a small change, but seeing someone’s face while talking makes a big difference. I also try to make it a habit of messaging coworkers every week to catch up on what’s going on in their lives and in office life. Additionally, try to stop by the office to visit if you can. Few things motivate me more when I’m having a hard time than spending time with my fellow coworkers after a visit back to the office.
Location is a huge component of working remotely. It can be tempting to recline on the couch for maximum comfort, but there’s something to be said about setting aside a space in your house or apartment specifically for work. For me, it’s a corner of my basement that I only go to for work. This is how I draw the line leaving work at work and truly having work-life balance. Having the separation also allows me to focus more intensely when I’m in that working location.
That being said, you don’t have to make your location of work boring. For example, try to face a window to allow for natural light throughout the day to brighten your mood. I’ve also found personalizing your space is a must. Decorate with plants, degrees, awards, certifications, or even Star Wars posters to make the space truly your own. I have found a bland, generic workplace stifles my creativity.
One of the biggest benefits I’ve found about working from home is how quiet it is. I don’t have to worry about talking on the phone with clients because there is no background noise; we can hear each other perfectly! This is something I have taken for granted for a while and am extremely thankful for. On the other hand, when I don’t have meetings or calls, I enjoy the freedom of remote work life by going to some of my favorite coffee shops in town. This is usually what my Fridays look like–it’s a great way to cap off a long week!
With the freedom of working from home, it’s very tempting to sleep in, roll out of bed and start your work day. I’ve found it’s extremely important to maintain a structured routine when approaching work from home life. This includes waking up, making the bed, going to the gym, showering, enjoying coffee and quiet reflection, or whatever your daily morning ritual may entail before diving into what the work day has in store.
Another temptation that comes with working from home is getting too comfortable. It’s very tempting to multitask while working from home, but it is essential to remove the distractions from your home work space that hinder your focus. There is no reason to have a TV nearby to watch Netflix on. Attempting to watch TV while working is the best way to kill productivity. It’s much easier to exercise self control when you remove all distractions from your workspace.
A big perk of the work from home life is the ability to spend breaks however you want. Working with your mind in front of a computer screen all day? Use a ten minute break to clean the dishes that have piled up or to fold the laundry. It’s productive yet still restful activity to shake things up a bit and do some quick work around the house. A mentor of mine once told me, “he who works with his mind, rests with his hands,” and this could not be more true for me when it comes to full time work from home.
Since working remotely full time, I actually take advantage of a lunch break more consistently. I love being able to use my own kitchen to whip up a smoothie in the middle of the day for lunch. It’s a huge benefit to eat healthy and save money by cooking your own lunch, but also easy and convenient to heat up that leftover pizza from last night.
Taking breaks is essential to being productive in any workplace to avoid burnout, but working from home allows you to spend your breaks however you want. Nothing is more relaxing after a long presentation than spending time on a hobby that you love for a few minutes. For me, that’s picking up my guitar for five minutes and practicing a new song. I also use short breaks to call my brother to catch up on life, do some quick housework as I mentioned before, or to take my dog Lucy on a walk.
With plenty of positive aspects and freedoms that come from working from home, make sure to enjoy them! One of the greatest benefits of working remotely is the ability to work from anywhere. It’s great to be able to go back to your hometown and see family for a few days. Enjoy saving time and money on commuting; parking and gas can add up quickly. Lastly, learn from my mistakes and invest in a good office chair! It took me a year to do this and it makes a world of a difference.