This post seems even more timely now with the Coronavirus crisis, as people are trying to figure out life right now, as we shift from in-office to remote work. Here’s how I rock it, and how you can work from home effectively. I’ve been working remote for two decades now, having an office both on-site at a corporate location as well as one in my home, having an executive suite as well as a home office, or just having a home office that has the capabilities to host my clients. Here’s how I have set up my home office as well as a few tips for you to start your remote work and work from home reality up for success.
Start Your Day off Like Any Other Day
Get up, take shower, and get dressed like you are going to work … because you are. “Here’s some free advice if you never have. Start the day with a shower and then dress like you normally would for work. I love pajama pants too, but they’re a breeding ground for depression. Flannel feels like failure by day 3.” Starting your day off like a normal day helps set your body off for success. We crave routine, and just like making your bed gives a simple success release of serotonin, setting a consistent morning routine enables you to focus on going to work as normal.
Let Your Office Reflect You
I have photos of my family, art prints from Ugmonk, and items that reflect who I am (like a collection of limited edition or small batch whiskey and bourbon and a wine cellar stocked with client gifts). But my office is also all business. While it has the creature comforts of home, everything in my office has been designed to keep me on track. If you lack the basic comfort of your office reflecting you, you will always feel out of place, even in your own home. So when I walk down the stairs and into my office, I know I have a space that is all me and all business. You need that space too.
Prepare Your Desk for Comfort
If you are going to be spending a lot of time at your desk, then you need to make it comfortable to sit (or stand) at for hours on end. I have dual 27″ monitors hooked up to my 15″ MacBook Pro that are raised to eye level for proper ergonomics, surround audio provided by Sonos, a sit and stand desk by Autonomous, and a chair that enables me to sit for up to four hours if needed by Tempur-Pedic (and sold at Staples, sometimes on sale). I raise and lower my desk every thirty to sixty minutes, walk around the office while on calls in an effort to increase blood-flow, and and make sure I look around the room every hour so my eyes don’t go bonkers looking at computer screens. Twice a day, I book out with my dog and take her on longer walks. It’s good to get out of the house, and it makes her tired so I can relax after a long day working.
Know How to Best Communicate via Video and Audio
When working remote, you cannot expect your co-workers to communicate the same way as in-office. While using Slack as a communication tool helps with near instantaneous messages and Basecamp as a project management tool helps keep workers on track (make sure you read Remote, by Basecamp founder Jason Fries), things will be different while working from home. There are time and space constraints, new sounds and interruptions, and spaces being shared by kids who are most likely home from school during the workday. Here’s how I set up my desk and office for communication with coworkers and clients.
- I use the Logitech Brio Webcam for video conferencing via Zoom.
- I use a Yeti Broadcaster setup for creating tutorials for clients via CloudApp.
- I use the Diva Ring Nebula Ring Light for front-lighting.
- I use a controllable light above my office chair that gives me the right amount of hair light.
- I use contrasting maple wood wainscoting and a blue hue paint for my background.
- The art that is in the frame for recording is non-reflective, to prevent video glare and mirroring.
- For basic calls with clients and coworkers, I have my desktop and phone paired with my AirPods.
Find a Schedule that Works for You
I know what I need to accomplish going into each week. Sometimes I block schedule, and other times I mark tasks off on a list. With my hyper-active brain, it’s always up in the air as to what method I will be using. But I know myself and know how best to accomplish my work. If you use Basecamp like I do, then you know how to manage your projects on your own, with your team, or with clients. You can gantt if you’d like or take a glance at what’s ahead, but you always know what is ahead, who a project is assigned to, and when it is due. Find out how you best work and cater your schedule to meet your needs. There’s no need to be hard and fast to it, because people, projects, and circumstances shift. So expect there to come a time when you need to flex as well … like now.
Have questions or need help? Just click my photo on the screen and we can talk about it.