Remote work is a hot trend, as seen in a 78% increase in LinkedIn job posts mentioning ‘workplace flexibility’ from 2016-19. With the coronavirus outbreak causing many employers to send staff home–and the very real possibility of millions of people going into quarantine–remote work may quickly become mainstream. Here are 10 tips for employers and employees on how to successfully work from home.

1. Have a clearly defined work day

One of the greatest benefits of working from home is the one or two (or three or four!) hours saved from not having to commute. The catch is there’s a temptation to waste those hours.

To make the most of your day working from home, treat it as you would a work day in the office. Follow your usual morning routine–showering, running, dropping the kids of at school, etc. Have a coffee. Put on clothes suitable for work (it doesn’t need to be formal, just enough to put you in the right frame of mind). Then sit down at your desk and get working.

2. Plan your day ahead with goals

There’s no shortage of literature out there on how to plan your workday. Setting daily goals is even more important in remote work, where isolation can lead to a drop in motivation.

In ‘How to Have a Good Day’ economist Caroline Webb suggests thinking about the day ahead during your shower or morning run. She suggests asking yourself: What matters most today? What does that mean for my attitude and actions? What goals should I set for the day?

Drawing on the work of top behavioral scientists, Webb suggests visualizing your daily goals. This means actually closing your eyes and imagining yourself doing the most important things you have planned for the day. She also recommends planning a peak, as in deciding what you’re most looking forward to today (however small).

3. Create a separate workspace

To have a successful day working remotely, it is crucial to separate your home and work life. This means having a workspace–preferably a separate office or, at the very least, a dedicated work desk in your living area. 

Having a dedicated workspace at home isn’t only good practice. It’s also good for your health because it forces you to get up and stretch when you need stuff from another room, like coffee.

4. Invest in good ergonomics 

Speaking of your health, it’s important to take posture seriously. Arrange your workspace at home with a comfortable chair, table, screen, and light. The Mayo Clinic offers useful tips on office ergonomics here. We also like this short Udemy online course called ‘Sit Less, Move More.’

5. Have all the right communications equipment

Working from home doesn’t have to reduce output. In fact, Pravda Media Group long ago made the transition to remote work (employees work four days a week from home and come to the office once a week) and found it actually improved productivity!

For team members to successfully work with each other from remote locations, it is absolutely essential that everyone have good communications equipment. That means fast internet connection, functioning cell phone, and a good headset/microphone. 

6. Use video conferencing

Further to the above point, register for video conference software, e.g. Zoom. This allows you to easily organize/participate in team meetings or schedule face-to-face video calls when the need arises. 

7. Align with colleagues

Working in physical isolation from your colleagues doesn’t mean going rogue. Even if you work from home, it’s still possible to work as a team. All that’ needed is for everyone to buy-in to the same strategy. For example, many companies successfully use Pravda Media Group’s StarAlign methodology to improve productivity among remote workers. 

8. Take regular breaks

Returning to the topic of health, we can’t stress enough how important it is to not get stuck to your desk. This obviously applies to working in an office too, but it requires special emphasis here because it’s easier to lose track of time when working in isolation.

Schedule regular breaks into your work day. These could involve taking the dog for a walk, doing a quick grocery shop, even doing a quick round of sit-ups. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just as long as you get out of your seat for a few minutes.

By the way, there’s another benefit to getting away from the desk. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, 2011 Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman explains how the human brain has two systems: the first is fast, automatic, emotional, and unconscious; the second is slow, calculating, and conscious. Building on this research, Caroline Webb recommends doing deep research punctuated by intervals where you allow your unconscious mind to work in the background and think of great ideas. 

9. Have lunch with your children – or a friend

Eating well helps focus your mind. Eating with other people is even better, because it is a form of socializing – which is also crucial to wellbeing. 

If your kids are home from school or if your partner or a roommate are also working from home, then your lunch date is organized. Alternatively, you could schedule with a friend working nearby.

10. Have a change of scenery sometimes

Walk into a hi-tech company’s office and you’ll see comfy couches, spacious balconies, and meditation rooms where employees can go for a change of scenery or to clear their mind. 

You can create these spaces when working remotely too, by going out to the garden/balcony, sitting on a park bench, or working from a café one day a week.

Figure Out a Routine That Works for You

Learning how to work remotely also requires figuring out a system that works for you. Take time to think about how to create a structure that strikes a balance between working productively and having free time. It is critical to developing that proper work/life balance while of course, factoring in the needs of your colleagues and family. 

Need more tips on working from home (and not losing your mind)? See our resource center here.