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A group of remote teammates stay connected via video chat as they work from home

8 Work From Home Tips for First Time Remote Employees – BreakoutIQ

We at BreakoutIQ would like to share 8 helpful work from home tips to help get you through the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In response to COVID-19, many companies have transitioned to a completely remote workforce. But it’s not as easy as you think! You and your colleagues are used to coming into the office and having frequent face-time. An isolated workspace might be jarring, or you may have more frequent distractions if kids or partners are also home for the next few weeks.  Here’s how you can manage this transition and work efficiently and effectively from home.

1) Remain visible within your team as you work from home

Make sure you and your teammates are still seeing each other frequently. You may have taken for granted all the opportunities you had to converse with colleagues at work, and it’s easy to forget when you’re in head-down work mode and don’t have natural proximity. Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips to stay connected:

  • Seek out opportunities to co-work with your team in a virtual room. Keep a video conference window open with other people in it even if you’re not actively working on a project together. This can help recreate the feeling of having someone just on the other side of the cubicle wall.
  • Participate in team meetings. Make sure to speak up during big discussions. Conversely, give space and invite others to share their thoughts as well, so nobody feels like a silent observer.
  • Participate in group discussions over chat about topics not related to work. Keep that water cooler talk going without the water cooler.

Check out more suggestions on how to stay connected as a team during this time

 

2) Separate “work” from “home:” create a dedicated workspace

If you went to the office each day, you’re used to having a physical separation between work life and home life. This is just as important to maintain when working from home. Here’s how you can keep the two distinct:

  • If you have a home office, perfect! If not, create a designated workspace that’s separated from the main hub of your home. You may not have pictured having a standing desk in that random nook in your home, but it might be the ideal quiet place to focus.
  • Limit your work to that space, and keep home life on the other side of the door. It’s easy to always feel like you’re in work mode if it bleeds too much into your day-to-day.
  • If you need a change of pace, switch up the space! Try working by different windows to find the best light, or move work out to the balcony. Remember though, your work space is for work only, regardless of where it is.

 

3) Clock out at the same time each day

The previous work from home tips establish physical boundaries between work and home. But it’s just as important to establish temporal boundaries. To keep from losing track of time and working through the dinner hour, have a regular time when the work day ends, the same as it would at the office. Here are a few tips so you don’t still take work home with you:

  • Set an alarm at the end of the day to indicate your normal work day is coming to an end. You don’t have to stop at exactly that time, but it’s a good way to know when to start wrapping up.
  • Save your work, power down your computer, and “leave the office.” Go through the ritual of transitioning from work to home, even if you’re just putting your laptop in the other room.
  • Plan an evening activity as an enforcing mechanism. Ideally, this involves either someone that you live with or a friend or family member virtually as a way to have connection as well, but it could just as easily be planning to read a book on the couch.

 

4) Have a properly equipped workstation

The couch may be comfy, but it may not be ideal for work (or your lower back!) Make sure that you have the necessary equipment to do your job well:

  • A desk. This may be your kitchen table, but any flat surface that isn’t your coffee table works best. If you’re used to a standing desk, you may need to get creative and DIY your own.
  • A standard-sized keyboard and mouse. You’ll work faster if you don’t have to relearn how to type on a smaller laptop keyboard or navigate with a touchpad. Bring your ergonomic equipment home!
  • A monitor at eye-level. Make sure your screen is at the recommended height to avoid neck strain. If you’re following our advice on using a separate keyboard and mouse, you don’t need a second monitor, just elevate your laptop!
  • A comfortable chair. Make sure you have proper back support, just as you would with your ergonomic office chair.
  • Proper lighting. This one’s key not just for productivity, but for not feeling like you’re cooped up. If you have access to natural light, do your best to have your workstation there, or at the very least take your breaks in that area of your home throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to move around your lamps or even get a full-spectrum light so you have optimal lighting.

 

5) Find the right remote collaboration tools for your team

Work from home tips for keeping collaboration going: many teams and companies are already equipped with what they need, but if your team is not accustomed to being in different places, make sure you have the proper applications to enable collaboration. Here are a few recommendations of the top products you might consider:

  • Video conferencing: Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.
  • Conversation: Slack, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams.
  • Collaboration: The Google suite of Docs, Sheets, and Slides lets your whole team contribute to the same file. It also aids in version control.
  • Project management: Asana, Trello, Quire, or monday.com.
  • Collective knowledge: ProProfs, Confluence, Foswiki, or MediaWiki.

 

6) Maintain healthy work from home habits: keep your regular routine

It’s easy to slip into feeling like you’re in a “home routine.” You can take your designated clock-out time a step further by structuring your day as you would in the office:

  • Keep your morning routine. Wake up at the same time, adapt your workout so you can stick with it at home, and have your usual breakfast. The bonus is you can convert your regular commute time to me-time, so you still start work at the time you’d arrive at the office.
  • Dress as if you’re going to the office. You can stick with Casual Friday attire, but changing out of your PJs is a good way to transition from lounging-at-home time to work time.
  • Structure your day like you would in the office. Segment what you’ll do and when over the course of the day. If you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks.
  • Take breaks! Set calendar reminders if you need to. Stretch, get some fresh air, and switch up your surroundings for 15 minutes.

 

7) Manage your work from home life: communicate with your roommates

If you’re not the only one at home, make sure you’re effectively communicating your new working arrangement with any roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, and especially kids.

  • Set some boundaries and ask that they respect your space during work hours. To punctuate it further, have a “closed door” policy—when the door is closed, you are unavailable. You can also try using headphones or even a sign on the table to make it clear when you’re in “do not disturb” mode.
  • Communicate work hours or your high-level schedule for the day. If someone has a non-urgent question, they can come to you on your scheduled lunch break. If you have a lot of meetings on a particular day, let them know so they can keep the noise level at a minimum and refrain from interrupting. To maintain harmony in the household, share if you’re working on a very important project or a tight deadline, so they understand that you might be more stressed out than usual and really need to focus.

 

8) Enjoy the advantages of working from home

These work from home tips aren’t just about being healthy and efficient. There are definite perks to working from home! Allow yourself to appreciate the positives of your new work environment:

  • No commute saves you time and stress. That extra time is yours to enjoy!
  • You can do things at home that weren’t possible at the office, such as spending more time preparing meals, walking your dog on your lunch break, and spending more time with your roommates, kids, pets, or significant other.
  • Unless you still love your noise-canceling headphones, you can play your music at any volume!
  • Napping on the couch during your break may have been frowned upon at the office, but power naps at home are 100% allowed.
  • The best breakroom! You have a whole kitchen and your own comfortable seating for yourself. True, you might always be the one making the coffee, but it’s the brand you chose. And you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your lunch.

We hope these work from home tips can be useful to you during this challenging transition!

If you’re looking for additional levity, check out 2 activities that BreakoutIQ recently launched for teams that are working from home and/or are distributed across many cities.

Facilitated Online Events: A video conference based version of our unique trivia game, TrivIQ. Conversation starting trivia rounds, a mix of small team and large group interactions, and a fun competition make this a great fit for any team! Great for all group sizes and activities ranging from 30 – 90 minutes.

Learn more about Remote Trivia here

Weekly Team Building: Coffee Break Contest is a great way to make new connections across your team! The service partners you with someone new every 2 weeks to complete a fun, 15-minute challenge over video conference. See how the rest of your company did in exciting company-wide recaps after every challenge, and stay engaged with some friendly banter and team appreciation. Get started with a no-obligation free trial.

Learn more about Coffee Break Contest here!


Stay connected with remote team building activities

We offer facilitated activities over video conference and weekly programs for ongoing connections! Reach out for more info:

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