Working from home or remote working is a dream for most of us but we can quickly realise that the lure of 9 seasons of Suits, the bathroom grout and polishing the light switches all seem much more appealing when you're about to open your laptop at home.
I've been working from home (and from a co-working space) for almost two years and there are many things I've learnt over that period (including that Donna Paulsen is a total badass and I love her and everything she stands for.) So here are my top tips to nailing that remote working life:
1. Create an actual work space (hint: it's not your bed!)
Of course, there might be the odd day that working from your comfy bed is the only real option (it's one thing I used to wish for all the time when I was on my period and in an office!) but you really need to create yourself a gorgeous workspace that's away from your bedroom/relaxation area. Whether it's your dining table, a small pop up desk in another room or even at your kitchen counter, having that space as your work space will massively help the transition into "work mode" and not "home mode". Keeping it separate from relaxation spaces means that you still associate those spaces with being calm and switched off, not with to-do lists and emails.
2. Take regular breaks & decide which hours will work for you
Here's the thing, if remote working isn't part of your normal structure then keeping things inline with your ordinary working hours will be really key, both for the transition into and out of remote working. BUT, if remote working is going to be a long term thing, then work to the hours that you're most productive and take breaks! It's easy to stay glued to your laptop but get yourself up and make sure you take an actual lunch break.
3. Get outside
At some point in the day I really recommend a walk outside, even if it's just for ten minutes. Fresh air helps to clear fatigue and brain fog. Some mornings I take a walk to my local coffee shop, get a coffee to go and come back home as if it's my commute to work. Heck, if it's real busy then make a cup of tea and sit in your garden or on your front door step - trust me, it works!
4. Video call fails
Technology is glorious but it's also a total pain in the ass. You've made your cup of tea, you're ready for the meeting and then you realise you've not downloaded the app, or your internet connection is poor. Ten minutes later you arrive on the call, flustered, embarrassed and having missed most of the meeting. But there are easy fixes! Double check with the host what platform they're using and if you need to create a profile for it or download anything for it. If you're hosting, we highly recommend Zoom and check that everyone you invite also feels comfortable using that software. Set an alarm 20 minutes before the meeting to make a drink, set up what you need for the meeting and log on in plenty of time to trouble shoot any issues. If you're worried about using new software, ask someone if they don't mind running a test call with you first, so you can get the hang of it.
5. Get rid of distractions
Hide the TV remote. Get up early to put the washing on/clean the dishes. Write out your goals for the day and stick them to whatever is in front of you when you're on your laptop to stay focused. You absolutely do not need to alphabetise your romantic novel collection instead of finishing that report and if you've never bothered polishing your light switches before chances are that you don't "absolutely need to do it now".
6. Talk to someone
If you work from home a lot it can get real lonely real quick. During lunch FaceTime someone you enjoy talking to, or call someone for a quick catch up. Even better, you could meet someone for a coffee or a walk during the day. The worst thing is sitting alone with your stress from days of work an no change of scenery. Believe me, I once cried for 5 days straight because the only other human I had seen was my partner.
7. Embrace the Cloud and client/staff management apps
If you work across teams or clients, then chances are you're already using some form of cloud software to share documents and files. We use G Suite here at WWD where all of our working documents are held and people can edit together. We also use Monday.com for all of our strategy, planning, to-do lists, customer tracking and assigning tasks to individuals. Monday.com is a paid platform but it's incredibly versatile and an amazing resource for managing our team. Trello is also a great platform and is free, easy to use and totally user friendly.
Emma Downey, Founder and Editor
Emma can be found glued to her laptop/kindle or embarking on her next favourite hobby. Avid cake-eater, Disney superfan and passionate about female empowerment, Emma founded WWD in 2017. She's also a marketing consultant, Girlguide Leader and converting a Sprinter van (@Minnie_the_van on Instagram) into her office/home to take around Europe in 2020 with her partner, Rupert (who features heavily in most of her anecdotes).
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