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Josefine Schfr
Josefine Schfr

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How to make remote work suck less

Hear me out here - it's not like I was hibernating the last 2 years (I wish). We’ve all long gotten over our initial confusion when we were forced to leave the office behind and switch it for our living room (if we were so lucky) - that’s all old news, right?

Well, yes and no - many of us were already either forced to return - either partially or fully to an office, others work in hybrid settings or have gone fully remote - pandemic unrelated.

For me, it’s the latter - I switched companies and have already been fully remote for the last couple of months. For someone who has commuted to a (basically) empty office even during the pandemic, this felt like a risky step. I love being around other people, background noise helps me focus and the change of scenery really helps me put my work hat on. But the job was too good not to give it a go, and here I am. Working from home.

How do you stay sane alone at home in front of your screen? Do you ever go out to work from cafes or even go on workations (is that what the cool kids call it?)? Do you miss your colleagues? Since accepting actually working from home as my new default instead of an interim state, I have found some things that help me be both productive and happy. Maybe there is something in there for you, too.

Set up your Workspace

Especially if you decide to stay at home in the long run, it’s totally worth it investing in a proper setup - it will make you feel more ‘at work’, it’ll be easier to focus and most importantly, it will save you a lot of back pain. Whether you work with a monitor or two, need an ergonomic mouse, love mechanical keyboards or get one of these bouncy balls to sit on - the world is your oyster. Make your workspace your own, get some plants, go all the way!

Maybe your company can even support you in this and help you get a proper desk (or transport one from the office to your home if you already had one). There are also services like Hofy, where you can rent remote equipment and return it when you don’t need it anymore.

On top of an unmade bed is a laptop and a newspaper - not your ideal workspace

Develop a Routine

In my job, there is not a lot of routine - every day is different. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have your own routines, regardless of how small they might be. I start my work day usually with some green tea and breakfast at my desk, going through all the messages and preparing the day ahead. I also always block some focus time to make sure nothing in the way of really important tasks. This of course really depends on your responsibilities and the amount of freedom you have when it comes to managing your time, but routines don’t have to take up a lot of time.

Work from Anywhere

Make the most of working remotely by switching it up once in a while. Go work from your favourite cafe or take a little workation if your schedule allows it. Many people find they are a lot more productive if they change the scenery from time to time. I was really hesitant about this at first because we do have to make some calls at the last minute and I was really getting used to my second screen - but you don’t have to spend the entire day at a cafe if you don’t want to - it could also just be a couple of hours. It might seem counterintuitive, but at least for me, getting some tasks done at a cafe really boosts my productivity. (And being served amazing coffee is good for the soul, of course!)

Remote work set up outside with a mate tea cup

Take Breaks

As tempting as it is to never leave your desk, be sure to take breaks. Block some time for a lunch break, go take a walk or take the time to prepare a nice coffee for yourself. We quickly feel pressured to be available and get stuff done, but it’s easy to get sidetracked here. First of all we are all more productive when we take a breather in between - at the latest when switching between tasks. Secondly, it’s definitely not like we were 100% productive at the office all the time either, right? There are usually lots of water-cooler chats or people you bump into who have a ‘quick question’ that takes 30 minutes of your time. This is part of the job. And so is making your coffee at home, accepting a package or fixing a quick household issue.

Schedule Social Time

Giphy of a zoom call where all participants do a little dance
For me, this is the most important one - you might be alone in your home office, but you don’t have to be lonely. The biggest difference is that social interactions aren’t likely to happen accidentally anymore - but that doesn’t mean they will be less enjoyable. Schedule virtual coffee chats with your coworkers to catch up. Make sure to not always talk all business all the time but make room for some fun. If you can, maybe meet up with friends or family who also work remote and schedule co-working dates. Or even meet up with colleagues who live close by. If possible, I extend my lunch break a bit and meet some friends for lunch - not every day, of course - but from time to time.

These are some of the things that help me organize my remote work life - of course, there are good days and days where I wish I was in a pre-pandemic life in an office full of my favourite co-workers. But since we can’t turn back the clock, it’s time to make the most of this new adventure. Let me know how you are holding up and what you do to make working from home (even) more enjoyable ✨

Discussion (3)

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Jeremy Friesen

I love working from home and have been since March 2020. I set aside a workspace that I love.

I was able to foster a litter of puppies because I could take the necessary break every 2 or 3 hours to tend to them.

I switched my social activities to online (table top RPGs).

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Josefine Schfr Author

ohhh puppies sounds amazing! This is truly a big upside of working from home, to be able to care for animals!

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Sam Watkins

Remote work already sucks extremely less than office work, at least in my experience.