Work From Home: A Beginner’s Guide – by Pilar Rashad

Pilar Rashad is a marketing director and creative project manager

Look. You’ve just been asked to work from home. Your initial reaction might have been ‘Yes! Netflix binge marathon: here I come.’ However, reality is now setting in and it’s starting to get just a tad overwhelming.

Your couch is seductively calling your name. The coffee at home is not as good. You don’t know where to start. (Also, have your neighbours always been this loud?)

But let’s not panic. While remote work can be daunting at first, it can also be productive, fun and extremely rewarding. After all, thousands of successful companies and agencies around the world already operate this way.

And though we might not have a sound-proofing solution for your neighbours, we’ve got some tips to get you settled into this new working arrangement. Let’s get right into it…

Create Boundaries: Set Up A Home Office

Not surprisingly, working from home can blur the boundaries a little (read: a lot). Work spills into personal life and vice versa.

Create a dedicated space to work from and stick to it. As you can imagine, working from your bed or couch is not going to set a very productive tone to your day.

Set up your home office nicely and be sure to make it a functional environment that works for you; near a power outlet with as much natural lighting as possible.

Create Boundaries: Get Dressed

Your brain will take that to mean business.

Getting out of your pajamas and putting on your big boy / big girl pants have been proven to increase confidence, motivation, creative thinking and other good stuff.

You don’t need to be dressed to the nines. Put on whatever outfit you feel good and comfortable in.

You’re Not A Robot: Break Up Your Day

You don’t work non-stop when you’re at the office, so don’t try to at home. Divide your day into several intervals with short breaks in between. Get up, walk, stretch, water your plants.

Maybe take a 10-minute reset every hour, or 20 minutes every two hours. Find whatever balance works best for you.

Use social media only on your breaks and try to avoid it otherwise. If you’re the type to open Facebook subconsciously (i.e. if you’re a human being with a pulse and an internet connection), consider downloading Chrome extensions that temporarily block social media from your web browser.

Take Advantage Of Being Home: Make Lunch Great Again

One advantage of not being in the office is the ability to take that lunch hour to do the things you’ve always wanted to do more of, but could not find the time.

Cook, meditate, work out, take 138 photos of your dog. Then get back to work with a fresh pair of eyes.

Build New Habits: Create A Routine

Creating a routine is a powerful way to navigate a new work environment. So it’s crucial that you create a routine that works for you.

Make to-do lists & check in with yourself at the end of each day. What went well? What could be improved?

Structure your day in a way that’s aligned to your personal preference. Some professionals prefer to do creative work in the morning when they feel most inspired, others feel more creative later on in the day when they’re two coffees deep. There’s no wrong way. Test out different routines until you find something that ‘clicks’.

And remember to treat yourself! Set some performance goals for yourself and incentivise with little rewards along the way.

Managers: Create Space For Human Interaction

Video is your friend. A huge element that can slip between the cracks when your team is working from home is human connection.

Set up a video conference system so that your employees can see each other during meetings. Being able to see and read body language is so important; voice calls or audio-only meetings just won’t cut it.

Set up daily department catch ups. These can be cut down to twice weekly and eventually weekly when your team gets more settled into working remotely.
Consider creating a Slack channel (or whatever similar IM equivalent is already in place) dedicated to non-work chat.

This not only ensures project-related conversations are not inundated with memes, but it also offers your team a space to be social and connect with each other on a personal level.

Managers: Reward Good Work

Now more than ever, your team will need you to step up and support them. Make sure to consistently praise & shout out employees who do outstanding work. You know the old saying: ‘praise in public, correct in private’.

Consider a reward program or small incentives to get your team through this transition.

Finally, make sure you’re regularly giving every member of your team 1-on-1 time.