Newbies! Five Top Tips for Working from Home for the First Time

Who likes lists? Apparently everybody. Every other article on the web seems to have been crunched into a list of the best ways to change your oil, depilate your nether regions, bake brownies, or whatever. So here are SLX’s top five tips for those working from home for the very first time: 

1. Scheduling

At the top of the charts with a bullet is maintaining a schedule. Working from home can easily go one of two bad ways if you don’t set limits and schedule your time 

Those two bad options? Getting consumed by your work and making sweet love to your desktop PC and/or phone 24/7. Or the other extreme, which is hitting up matinee movies or the gym (well, not right now with C-19, but one can dream…) when you should be checking in with the bossman. 

So maintain regular work hours as much as possible. It doesn’t have to be 9-5. But keep a routine. It will keep you sane. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with coworkers and managers. You’re working from home, you’re not an indentured servant. 

That said, this will be your biggest challenge when working from home. I’ve been mostly working from home for over 20 years, and it is an eternal dilemma, especially when working on deadline. Be kind to yourself if you lapse, but get back up on the horse as soon as possible.

2. Compartmentalizing

Never let working from home take over your home. Designate a work space, whether you create a formal home office or set up in a kitchen nook. Keep it separate from your home spaces as much as possible. Otherwise, you’ll soon find that work is creeping into every aspect of your life, from having dinner with the family to when you’re trying to Netflix and chill in the evenings.

At the same time, feel free to move around on occasion to avoid going stir crazy. I take some Zoom calls in my office, others in my sunroom just to mix things up and get some much-needed vitamin D. I’m also looking forward to getting out on my deck when the weather improves. Just keep those locales temporary by not establishing a permanent work presence in them. Remember that computers, notebooks, etc. live in your office. They just occasionally vacation elsewhere.

3. Work Communicating

Proper communicating is vital to successfully working from home. You cannot do enough of it. Be sure to check in frequently with managers and coworkers. Set meeting times so you hook up for a quick chat via video-conferencing, even if you don’t have a set agenda or are working on a specific project that requires feedback or supervision

Face time is still important. Talking is still important. Even when working from home, the human connection is crucial if you want to make a workplace effective and productive. Make sure that you build and maintain personal relationships so that you are real coworkers, not just names on emails and Slack messages.

4. Personal Communicating

One of the best and worst things about working from home is the lack of interpersonal relationships in the office. Sure, you dodge that guy who wants to tell you about cutting the lawn on the weekend. But you also miss out on fun little interactions that make office life enjoyable and human.

Take the time each and every day to reach out to someone, either a coworker or a friend from outside of the workplace. This is particularly important for those who live alone, but it’s also key if home with a spouse and kids, as a sense of isolation can creep up on you when you’re focusing on a black screen for most of the day…even in a house full of people.

5. Me Timing

One of the big pluses about working at home is freedom. So don’t chain yourself to a desk. Power walk around the block or hit the stationary bike. Go out for lunch (again, one can dream…) in a local café, or take lunch to a nearby park. Hook up with a nearby friend for a coffee or a chat. I know that living here in the St. Lawrence River Region, there are loads of great options to get out and enjoy the riverside, even if I have just 20 minutes for a quick walk.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Feel free to post what works for you either here or on the SLX Remote Work Tips and Tricks Facebook page.


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