Being a knowledge worker in a reasonably modern company affords you some privileges not every worker has — like working from home.
There's a growing trend in the knowledge working industry towards location independence, that is sourcing workers from many places.
Here are 5 guidelines for working from home.
This is the best advice I've heard, and I've seen it play out in practice. Have a workspace that is your own.
When you're working from home, or at an office, having a predictable low-friction workspace is key to staying motivated and productive.
You can get away with working from a couch for an hour or two, and you certainly can switch it up and work outside.
But, you need a stable home office.
Part of the reason is to get your mindset in line for doing work. It's easier than you would think to condition yourself to treating a location (such as a desk with a keyboard and monitor) as a place where "work happens."
You need to get the basics sorted out. Have good reliable internet. Have a backup connection. Your phone is likely good enough - make sure it has enough data to do at least a couple of video calls.
Your laptop or computer will likely have a decent enough camera and microphone for video calls. If it doesn't you need to fix this.
The best part about having a dedicated office is that you can work from home on days you didn't intend to.
For example, you wake up and there's an hour plus delays on your train line. It happens a couple of times a year where I am, because of track upgrades, random chance and other things. Now with a dedicated home office, it adds no stress to my day.
Try to keep your routine as much as possible. Wake up at the same time. Have breakfast, shower, drink coffee. Whatever your morning routine is, keep it the same.
This guideline has some leeway though. Some days things outside your control will affect your morning routine and wake up time.
That is okay.
This is a target, aim to wake up and follow your normal routine.
But don't worry if you don't. You won't ruin a day working from home because you woke up a bit later than normal.
Going to work in your pajamas is possible when working from home, but you should avoid it. Putting on your normal work clothes will help a lot in refreshing you, and getting you into a working mindset.
You don't have to go all out, but putting on clean clothes rather than staying in those you slept in really does help. This is a sentiment I've heard time and time again from successful remote workers.
Also, never trust the camera settings when you're on a video chat working from home. You may end up doing your standup without a shirt on — yes that has happened, not to me though.
Some of you will find this more valuable than others, but it can help with your working from home mindset.
While working from home, distractions can pull you out easier than you think. Sometimes this is okay, depending on what you're working on.
By closing the doors of the parts of your house you're not using, you avoid looking into them.
Maybe you left your bedroom a mess, but it can probably wait until after work.
All these things help you get into a work mindset, and then it's up to you to stay there. Some things will attempt to pull you away. You need to work out with yourself and those in your house what that balance is.
It's different for everyone, and there's no fixed rule. Over time and practice of working from home, you'll learn what works best.
Some distractions can be ignored and dealt with at the end of the day, some require immediate attention. It's often helpful to remember why you decided you wanted to work from home.
For some, it's the increased productivity from not having the distractions of an office. For others, it's spending time with people or pets you love. Sometimes it's just to avoid the commute for a day.
For me, it's all of the above.
Working from home can be fantastic for reducing the impact of a commute on your life, give you more quality time with those you love and reducing unexpected stress.
It requires discipline, focus and good time management skills.
A healthy balance between working from home and the office can lead to long lasting happiness.