Working From Home – Tips & Tricks

Changing from an in-office/lab environment to working from home represents a change in routine for most of us.  Many of us are creatures of habit, so alternations to our routines (morning rituals, commutes, office space, interaction with co-workers, etc.) require an adjustment period.  Here are some tips for making the adjustment a bit easier:

Get up each morning and go through your regular morning routine.
Set your alarm for the same time you would normally rise, shower, have a cup of coffee, watch the news, and get dressed (it’s OK to be comfortable, but get out of your pajamas and into casual clothing).

Set-up a dedicated space in your house that you will work from.
It’s best if this space is not in your bedroom.  If you have the space, set-up a desk in a spare room, repurpose a corner of your living room, commandeer the dining room table or the breakfast bar in your kitchen, etc.  If possible, make sure that your space gets natural sunlight (basements aren’t the best option for work-from-home spaces).

If you only have a laptop, try to connect your computer to a bigger screen
Repurposing a smaller TV from a spare bedroom, etc. can help.  Be sure that your computer set-up has a webcam attached.

Pay attention to the background your colleagues will see when you’re on a video chat.
A bookcase filled with books, a blank wall, or an office space is fine.  Avoid, if you can, a view of your bedroom, a messy space in your apartment or house, etc.

Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks.
You may need to set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move every hour.  Take a bathroom break, have a health snack, take a walk, do some body-weight exercises, etc.

Take a break for lunch – maybe talk a walk outside if you’re able.

Throughout the day, check in with co-workers by text, Skype, Zoom, or phone.
Even if you don’t have anything specific to speak about work-wise, it’s still a good idea to build-in some interactions throughout the day.

Create agendas and “to do” sheets to help keep you motivated and on-track with your work.
If needed, set deadlines on your calendar for when specific deliverables or projects should be sent to others for review or input.

Limit your intake of television and news during your work day.
It’s best if you can focus (music is fine, but avoid other distractions, if possible).

Set a time to stop work every day and log-out of email and other projects.
Take time to decompress and transition from work to your own personal time.  For some people, talking a walk, doing some kind of exercise, taking a short drive, or taking a shower can help to create a breaking point between work and personal time.

US Govt. Permission not needed.