22 working from home tips from veteran remote workers

Last updated on 
March 30, 2020

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Working from home sounds like a breeze – you’re in a comfortable environment able to wear whatever you want, finally free of open office distractions and deflating commutes. But those advantages alone aren’t enough to keep remote work productive.

Beyond physical separation from your colleagues, home working can pose quite a few unique challenges. Without clear boundaries between “work” and “home” – and no one to structure your time for you – you’re going to have to put a lot more effort into creating boundaries and staying focused. You’ll also need to stay vigilant about how your new set-up is affecting your wellbeing and build meaningful human contact into each day.

As a company that’s been working remotely for the past six years, we know there’s no single “correct” format for working from home – you need to hack around with routines and structures until you find a combination that works for you. Luckily, we do have a few ideas for finding it. Here are some of the best working from home tips the Memory team – from setting up to enjoying the ride:

Communication

  1. Slack pings, in-app comments and emails can quickly derail your focus, so set boundaries for how you use digital communication tools. We set availability hours for managing messages, and share them with colleagues so they know when to expect a response.
  2. Keep all company conversations in public Slack channels to maintain visibility between departments. We recommend setting up channels for each team and project, so everyone can follow and catch-up on relevant conversations.
  3. Create a global “announcements” space for broadcasting company-wide news and celebrating weekly wins – no matter how small.
  4. Self-advocate so people know what you’re doing – we share a short Basecamp summary at the end of each week detailing what we’ve done, what blocked us and what we’re working on next.

Environment

  1. Try not to work from the kitchen table; you’ll be constantly clearing away and setting-up your gear.
  2. If possible, have a specific room for working (ideally with a door!). It aids focus and helps to keep work and family time separate.
  3. Novelty goes a long way – while it’s good to have a home office base, change up where you work to inject refreshing change into your week.
  4. You don’t have to “dress for the office” to do good work; wear whatever you’re comfortable in.
  5. Make sure your cyber safety is up to scratch – enable two-factor authentication on all your work tools as a bare minimum.

Routines

  1. Keep the same work hours and lunch break – and know exactly when your work day ends.
  2. Try using mental segues to disconnect from work, like bookending your work day with a 15-minute exercise.
  3. Start the day with your hardest, most important tasks – don’t put them off.
  4. Schedule regular breaks and avoid working intensely for more than 90 minutes at a time.
  5. At the end of each day, sketch out tasks for the next and check your schedule to ensure you’re ready for any morning meetings.
  6. Track your work hours. Seeing your daily total helps you adjust your schedule to counterbalance any overtime, avoiding burnout.

Wellbeing

  1. Don’t fill breaks with new stresses or passive interactions – go for a walk, read an article or do something completely unrelated to work.
  2. Socialize virtually at every opportunity – hold virtual lunches, coffee breaks and movie nights via video.
  3. Have a rotating social events calendar to protect space for virtual team building and share the responsibility for making it happen.

Focus

  1. If you’re struggling to concentrate or just want to contain your breaks, try using Freedom — it lets you temporarily block entire social platforms and websites.
  2. Protect time for regular deep work in your public calendar to protect space for uninterrupted focus.
  3. Mute notifications across your devices and use your Slack status to indicate when you’re not to be disturbed – we use Dewo to automatically manage both for us.
  4. Try time blocking your work to keep effort proportional to task value – especially useful for containing the time you spend on communications.

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