Image of a woman sitting on a couch looking at her laptop while her daughter jumps on the couch beside her

10 Tips For Working From Home

Felix Homes

Dec 18th 2020

  • People often spend around $600 outfitting their homes to meet their ‘home-office’ needs.
  • An estimated 56% of jobs can be completed without ever leaving one’s home, most of which are higher-paying, white-collar professions.
  • 35.5% of Americans believe they’ll be allowed to work from home after the pandemic is over.
  • 65% of today’s home buyers are looking for a dedicated office in their new home.
  • 20% of remote workers report communication as an issue, and 19% say that loneliness is their biggest complaint.
  • Of those who will not continue working from home, the majority think they will be back in the office between April - June 2021.

Faulty connections, endless Zoom meetings, children screaming in the background—welcome to working remotely in 2020. When the pandemic hit, the percentage of American workers who operated primarily from home jumped from 3.4% to around 40%. Right now it looks like working from home is here to stay. The pandemic isn’t going anywhere for a while, and over 3 in every 10 Americans believe they’ll be allowed to work remotely even after they’re through this difficult period. Whether you can’t wait to get back to the office or hope to never see it again, your work-from-home experience could always be better; which is why we’re offering a few tips to help you get the most out of your telecommuting.

Tip #1: Keep Regular Hours

With work always at their fingertips, it can be tempting for telecommuters to pick and choose their times to be productive. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of your work situation’s flexibility, but this approach usually ends in frustration. Designate specific, consistent work blocks to avoid the constant sensation of being on-call, otherwise, you’ll find yourself working way more hours than you would at the office. Once you’ve established your schedule, then you can better take advantage of work-from-home flexibility without spreading yourself too thin. If one day’s project goes a little long, take an extended lunch the next day. Just remember that if you don’t control your work schedule, then your work will end up controlling you.

Tip # 2: Have a Dedicated Workspace

Another way to separate your work-from-home life from your home life is to designate a workspace within your house. Outfitting an area often costs around $600, and can be as involved as creating an entire office, or as simple as sectioning off part of your kitchen or living room. The main idea is to reserve an area for work so that the rest of your home doesn’t start to feel like a big office. This will help you separate mentally and practically from your at-home professional life. Today’s home buyers take this separation seriously, with 65% of them placing a home office on their residential wish list. As the pandemic lengthens, this number is only going to rise, so it’s a good thing properties in Nashville, Tennessee are increasingly meeting their needs. It’s not unusual for newly-constructed houses and condos to include work nooks and home offices. Sellers are also finding ways to turn dated dens and bonus rooms into suitable spaces for work. Whatever space you find, just make sure to stick to it while performing your job, otherwise, you’ll never get away from your work.

Tip #3: Always Overcommunicate

20% of telecommuters cite communication as a major obstacle to successfully completing their work, and the other 80% probably just didn’t understand the question. Without other employees around, face-to-face meetings, and a hovering boss, messages just don’t seem to get through as consistently. The best way to combat this dilemma is simple: communicate much more than you feel necessary. Repeat directions four or five times over Zoom meetings, and respond more often to emails to confirm your understanding. Maybe even create a timeline of your week’s activities and expectations so that others know exactly what you’re working on. This is especially helpful for managers, who made up 16% of the pre-pandemic remote worker population and are constantly giving orders. A good rule of thumb is, if you don’t feel like you’ve said something too much, then you probably haven’t said it enough.

Tip #4: Try to Simulate Authentic Workplace Interaction

It’s not surprising that one of the top long-term dissatisfactions for remote workers is that nagging sense of loneliness that stems from the lack of immediate human contact. Let’s face it: work is more than a place to make a living, it’s a place to make connections, and many telecommuters feel like they’re missing out. As a telecommuter, your best option is to find interactions that simulate the work-place environment. Get to Zoom meetings early, and make small-talk about the latest show you’ve been watching. If you’re working on a project, host a virtual hangout with your partners that offers critical face-to-face contact, or use a messaging app to keep you in the flow of conversation. You don’t always have to live through your technology, though. If you’re in the same city as your company, meet up for a socially-distanced lunch with colleagues at a spot that’s equidistant between your work and home. Most importantly, find a way to meet up with your boss to shore up that critical workplace relationship. All of these actions will humanize you to your colleagues, make your presence felt, and save you from those work-from-home blues.

Tip #5: Get Out of the House

Being out of the office doesn’t mean you have to be at home. Ironically enough, one of the best ways to work from home is to find somewhere else to work, entirely. A new environment, even for a morning, can refresh your spirit and increase productivity. Local libraries offer quiet spaces with reliable internet connections, but there are also plenty of restaurants and coffee shops with free WiFi and pandemic-friendly seating options. Especially in Nashville, where neighborhoods often come with tempting local cafes or brunch spots, an alternate location can be an alluring, accessible option for your entire workday. Neighborhoods like East Nashville or 12 South feature flexible restaurant districts just a stroll away, while residents of closer-to-downtown neighborhoods, like Germantown or The Gulch, often have coffee shops and cafes right beneath their cosmopolitan condos. Even Nashville suburbs, like Franklin, feature commercial districts with plenty of work-from-home alternatives. You’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll get done when someone else is making the coffee!

Tip #6: Set Clear Expectations With Those Who Share Your Environment

Family and roommates are usually the biggest obstacles to your work-from-home efficiency, but as long as they don’t happen to be small children, it’s usually possible to keep them from ruining your workday. The trick is to set clear expectations of what you need to be successful. Establish when and where you’ll be working, and tell them what you’re going to be doing. That way they can avoid you, as well as activities that might undermine your work. Make it clear that, unless there’s an emergency situation, you need this time for your productivity and peace of mind. If you make this negotiable, people will take advantage of you. Significant others will start to see you as on-call childcare, and badgering neighbors will enlist you for their every favor. Establish that your time is meant for work, or you’ll find yourself spending it on everything else.

Tip #7: Take your full, regularly-scheduled breaks

As long as you’re keeping within the confines of your company’s policies, breaks are just as important to the remote worker as they are to the office employee. Unlike those regular office employees though, telecommuters struggle to allow themselves the full break time. Your life may be more convenient, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t working just as hard. Take the full lunch hour to recharge those batteries and maybe even take a walk around your neighborhood for a little while. In places like Nashville, which are full of accessible restaurants and beautiful parks, you can really make the work-from-home lunch window work for you. After a quick sandwich, go for a hike at the acclaimed Percy Warner Park. If you’re downtown, descend from your loft to roam around the Statehouse grounds.

Tip #8: Have a routine for starting and finishing work

This may seem like a bit of a hassle at first, but having a system for entering and leaving your at-home workplace can help define your workday and make sure you’re prepared to start the job with momentum. The most particular among us can make a production out of this, with coffee, hair, make-up, and dressing to impress—even for a Zoom. For those who are less type-A, it’s still a good idea to eat something for breakfast, organize your work materials, and change out of the pjs before you dedicate yourself to another day at ‘the office’. Besides making sure you look like a professional who has everything in order, this helps simulate the process of mental preparation that a morning commute enables. The result is a more organized space and mind. When you’re finished, retrace your steps. Have specific places to put materials, then change from your work clothes into something more casual. This will help serve as a symbolic disconnect between your work and home life.

Tip #9: Always Be On Time

An occupational hazard of telecommuting is that co-workers tend to be a little jealous of your situation. After all, 99% of workers want to continue working from home to some extent after the pandemic is long gone. Because most of your co-workers would rather be at home, they’re likely to hold you to a higher standard. When you don’t answer emails promptly, or show up a little late for a conference call, fellow employees might not give you the benefit of the doubt. To make sure they don’t start to think that you’re binge-watching Netflix or always playing with your dog, try to be prompt in your interactions with others. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to chain yourself to your email or deny yourself bathroom breaks; just be aware that it’s best to make a habit of showing up early, and announcing your presence. That way, when you do have to miss or show up late to a meeting, your colleagues are likely to forgive and forget.

Tip #10: Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself

Many people overcompensate for their privileged circumstances by stretching themselves too thin and not making the most of their work situation. The fact is, there’s nothing wrong with embracing the advantages of working from home. Get a luxurious chair that wouldn’t fit in a cubicle (we suggest a papasan or a barrel chair), install the most comfortable lighting, and turn your music up. When the weather is nice, work from the chaise lounge out on the deck. As long as you aren’t running afoul of your company’s policies, there’s no shame in living the indulgent work-from-home life that you deserve.

Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of jobs can be performed at home, and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the work still gets done even when we’re not at the office. As your own professional life moves closer to home, these tips will help keep that work situation as sustainable as possible. If you’re looking to find a place in the Nashville area to serve your home and work life, give Felix Homes a call at 615-354-5731, or send us an email at contact@felixhomes.com.