Working from home has many benefits — no commuting, no need for matching socks — but it also comes with challenges. In the 15 years since Quality Information Partners (QIP) opened, our staff members, who all work remotely, have learned a lot about making the most of this environment. Here, we share some of our best tips for comfort, productivity, and balancing work with the demands of the outside world.
Get ready for the day
Working from home means comfort to many of us, and while some remote workers might find that working in sweatpants and slippers is a great benefit, others find it helpful to treat their home workday as they would an office workday. Showering and dressing each morning can help tell your brain that you are ready for work. Set your desk with the items you need to complete your tasks in comfort. In addition to your necessary work supplies, make sure your water bottle is full, your chair is comfortable, and you have ample light.
Sitting and moving
Many of us who spend our days working from home are using computers, tablets, and smart phones. Relieve eye strain by occasionally looking away from your screen for 30 seconds, ideally by trying to focus on something that is 30 feet or more away.
In a traditional office environment, other people often let us know when it's time to take a break. Set limits on how long you sit in your chair and stare at the computer screen. While it’s wonderful to have uninterrupted work time, it can be too easy to get so engaged in a project that you forget to take breaks, eat lunch, or stretch.
Moving around during the day can help reduce stress and even provide a new perspective on a project — even if that just means spending a portion of the day working standing up or from a different spot in your home. Taking a stroll around the block or doing some stretches outside can also provide a helpful mental break.
Learn more about safe computer use from our staff members’ experiences.
You might remember the dad who was being interviewed by the BBC when his toddler and baby burst into the room. Although the viral video was adorable, being interrupted during important calls, meetings, or, in his case, television segments, is not ideal.
Other humans, be they young or old, can be incredibly disruptive, but there are some great options for creating boundaries between your work life and home life, even when they share a roof. Doors and locks are excellent barriers, however those without locking office doors can consider displaying signs such as "Do Not Disturb" or "Working Quietly." Other visuals, such as noise-canceling headphones, can also let others know you are not available to socialize.
Leaving the "office"
You’ve worked a full day, but you have lots of work left. It would be convenient to just knock out one more spreadsheet or draft one more document. Some remote workers might find it challenging to leave work when they work from home. QIP is committed to promoting balance between work and life, but working remotely means no one is going to turn out the lights on you or lock you out of the building. So, how do you stop working when it’s time to pay attention to life? Consider the following options for creating a clean break from work:
Set an alarm for 30 minutes before the end of your workday to signal that it is time to wrap up your work and attend to any end-of-day tasks.
If you have an office, turn out the light, close the door.
Close your computer and walk away for at least an hour.
Schedule a phone call, happy hour, or time with a loved one.
Remember that working from home should encourage a work-life balance that allows you more comfort, more time in your home, and hopefully, the solitude you need to complete your work. The simple strategies offered here can help you get the most out of your work-from-home day and maintain a healthy work-life balance.