Staying home all day, wearing pajamas, and relaxing on the couch sounds like an ideal workday, right? Unfortunately, working from home isn’t quite that easy and can take a bit of time to adjust to if you are used to going into the office. But don’t despair, although learning how to work from home can certainly take some adjusting to, having the right tools and setup will make your new way of working a whole lot easier. As someone who as spent my entire career in the communications space and has been telecommuting and managing a remote global team for over 15 years, I thought I’d share some of my ‘wisdom’.
I’d be willing to wager that not all of this will be brand new to you, but if you’re anything like me, lists help. And, my hope is that this checklist gets you clear on what you need… and perhaps you’ll find a couple of nuggets while you’re at it.
Finding the Right Work from Home Setup
Setting up your workspace is important, and there are things you can do to get the space right no matter how your home is laid out. You’ll need to focus on the space, lighting, furniture, and (of course) technology for the ultimate WFH setup.
Having the right work from home setup is essential for success. Create a ‘workplace’ that is separate from your normal life. Set up a quiet area in your home that is dedicated just to work. This way, you have a clear division between work responsibilities and home responsibilities. If your home doesn’t have space for a home office, set up in your kitchen, living room, or bedroom, but take extra care to make these areas work by day and home by night.
That said, one of the most important factors of the right work from home setup is having appropriate space for your needs. Clear some space to ensure you have enough room for your technology, office supplies, coffee, and anything else your job may require so you can access and use things comfortably.
Adequate home office lighting is absolutely necessary. Brighten up your workspace by sitting near a window, using desk and/or floor lamp — keeping the lighting as natural as you can. If possible, don’t position your desk with a window behind you. And, if you do, make sure you have curtains you can close during video calls — no need to conceal your identity!
Show Some Personality
Your desk is a place of work, but it is also a reflection of you so why not show a bit of your personality? Say something about yourself with your workspace by showing off your hobbies or interests. This helps break the ice when you are meeting someone for the first time over video and can help remote teams get to know one another a bit better. That being said, don’t go overboard with decorating, as it can eventually lead to a distraction or clutter.
Bring the Outdoors in
Take this time while working from home to refine your green thumb. Having plants in workplaces has been shown to improve productivity by 15% and help to boost your mood, which results in better work. It helps too that green has a calming effect that is believed to relieve stress. Pro tip: Start with easy plants such as snake plants, pothos, spider plants, peace lilies, or ZZ plants.
This one is a bit obvious, but it needs to be said… find a comfortable chair. Also, get an appropriately sized desk for you and your items. One that allows you to sit or stand is ideal. The furnishings in your home office truly make a difference in your comfort and productivity.
Working from home is made much easier when you are prepared with the right technology. Of course, you will likely have your computer handy, but there is more work from home technology you can add that will make your adjustment a whole lot smoother.
Invest in a headset with Active Noise Cancellation to block out background noises so you can concentrate. Better yet, get one with close conversation limiting that only sends your voice and not the sounds of the dog barking or garbage man making noise outside your office.
Ditch the laptop camera and enhance visuals with a quality webcam and video conferencing tools, and enhance teamwork with collaboration tools. If you really want to get serious, get a dedicated monitor and webcam for video so you don’t consume all your monitor real estate with a video image. Ideally, choose a device with 1080p resolution or better. And, for extra-extra brownie points choose a camera with speaker tracking functionality to follow your every move if you stand up and move around.
Desk phones and portable speakerphones are a good option you prefer to be handsfree and headset-free. It’s nice to get up and move a bit — especially during audio-only calls. With new features like our NoiseBlock technology, if you forget to mute while you are trying to multi-task, the device will automatically mute the sound of you typing on your keyboard, so you won’t interrupt your meeting… Not that I’m condoning multi-tasking during your calls…
Work from Home Checklist
Other Work from Home Tips
From the art hanging on your walls to the chores waiting for you around the house, it is very easy to get distracted while working from home. To minimize these distractions, look around your space to see if anything could be distracting to yourself of others on the phone, on a video call, or randomly suck you down a rabbit hole in the middle of the day. In action, this means avoiding noisy rooms for calls, keep your surroundings tidy and do your best to ignore any looming chores. It’s also wise to set boundaries with your family to avoid disruptions.
Keep Your Space Decluttered
Now, this is a big one kids —keep your room clean! Tidiness and cleanliness in the office have been linked to increased productivity and mood, while clutter contributes to stress and hindered work. Put away items you are no longer using and clean up any clutter that may have accumulated during the day. If your workspace is too crowded, consider investing in a larger desk or a more efficient organization system for your things.
Maintain a Routine
For most people, going into the office provides structure to their workday routine. Switching to working from home can throw off that groove and leave you feeling lost or unmotivated throughout your day. When working out of a home office, maintaining a routine helps keep you on track. Essentially, you want to make it feel like you are going to work. This means waking up at the time you normally would for the office, shower, get dressed, have your morning coffee, then get out there and conquer the world from your home office on time.
It’s also important to take appropriate breaks. Maybe visit a friend for lunch or simply have a peaceful meal away from your desk. Perhaps a quick run or virtual exercise class to get your blood pumping after a long morning of sitting. And, be sure to quit working at a reasonable time to replicate the ‘office feel’.
Stay in Contact
One of the biggest differences between being in the office and working from home is the ease of talking with others. Stay in contact with coworkers to make sure everyone is on the same page despite working remote. To keep up morale, catch up with two to three people a day outside of normal ‘work’ stuff or, dedicate some time in your meetings to chit-chat. Make meetings via video call if possible, to see faces, or at least call in to hear voices. If audio or video conferencing technologies don’t make sense for a situation, reach out via a chat tool to successfully communicate in real-time.
Change of Scenery
With much of the world on lockdown, this one is more important than ever. You need to keep things interesting to prevent your days from amalgamating into a quarantined haze. If it’s a nice day, move outside. Work standing up for a bit. Take some calls with audio and some with video. Try not to stare at your screen all-day — rule of thumb from my eye doctor is every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Cut loose every now and then, take some time on a Friday afternoon or lunch to just shoot the breeze. Take that call from the back patio with an adult beverage — it’s 5 o’clock somewhere! 😊
Going to work means connecting with many, whether you are in the office or working from home. At Poly, we are committed to helping you create the best work from home office setup to ensure remote teams can efficiently and successfully stay connected. One to one, one to many, many to many.
Want to learn more about remote working? Visit blogs.poly.com/remote-working.