A+R’s Tips for Working from Home

A+R’s Tips for Working from Home

Lessons learned from having a home office for 15+ years
Andee Wilcott

Following CDC guidelines on social distancing due to the coronavirus, you may now be working from home. Some people may be relishing this opportunity and others are wholly against it. Either way, you need to set yourself up to thrive in a work-from-home environment.

I’m sure you’ve heard reports and read stories about “best practices” on working from home, and most of it is great advice. A+R Media Studio has been a home-based outfit since 2004, and I had freelanced from home for three years before that. Needless to say, I have a lot of experience in this area.

Most of my tips surround enforcing a level of rigidity to your at-home schedule. You’ll be tempted to blur the lines between work life and home life. I’ve found that blending these two areas can cause a big drop in productivity and increases both boredom and anxiety.

Here are my tips for keeping sane and making working from home a success.

1. Set up your workspace.

This one is crucial. Sitting on the couch with your laptop on the coffee table won’t cut it. Your bed is even worse. Ideally, you should set yourself up in a separate room of the house – a guest bedroom, study, etc. – that is away from as much of your home life as possible.

Make sure you have everything you need in your new office space – computer, phone, Wifi, webcam, good lighting, etc. Have your keyboard, monitor and chair ergonomically positioned to avoid injury and eye strain.

We’ve had four home offices for A+R – a spare bedroom, an attic, a basement, and now our cozy yet light-filled den. Few of these spaces were ideal, but we made the best of them.

2. Set your working hours.

Strive to keep the same working hours as you did at the office. If you worked 9-5 there, then keep a 9-5 schedule. If you are unable to keep the same hours because of child care or other concerns, then define what your available hours will be and communicate them to your colleagues and clients. Rudy and I keep a roughly 9-5 schedule so we can be available when our clients are available.

3. Get dressed every morning.

It may sound like fun to be “working in your PJs” but a big part of being productive at home is preparing your mental state. So get up, shower, brush your teeth, and get dressed. You don’t need to wear your “office clothes” necessarily, but be presentable and comfortable. No doubt you’ll be conducting meetings via webcam, so presentation counts!

4. Don’t mix work tasks with home chores.

You may think you can take advantage of being at home by “multitasking” – doing the laundry, washing dishes, etc. I urge you not to do that. The better you separate your work time from your home time, the more focused and productive you will be. You can start a home task like throwing a load into the washing machine, but do it on your break!

5. Define your breaks and take them.

You break for lunch at the office every day, right? And maybe take a few minutes here or there to catch up on social media, chat by the water cooler, etc? Make these breaks part of your daily routine so you can reset. If you need to, add these breaks into your calendar or set alarms on your phone. It will help prevent burnout or defocusing during the day.

6. Be considerate of your “office mates”.

Is your spouse/significant other/roommate also working from home? Just as you would at work, be considerate of your new office mates. Clean up after yourself, use headphones when listening to music, and don’t shout into the phone during calls.

7. End your day.

Leave the office at the end of your day and mean it. Close your work-related applications, close the door to the office space if you can. In normal times your commute home serves as the transition between work life and home life, so you’ll need to create a new routine to replace that. Try taking a walk, fixing a special snack, or watching a particular TV show to fill that void.

Well, there it is. I hope you find these tips valuable as you settle into a work-from-home life. I absolutely love working from home, but it does take some discipline to stay motivated and productive.