The largest work from home experiment is happening right now. If you're one of the new subjects in this experiment, don't be afraid!
I started working from home full-time a year and a half ago as a web developer. Prior to that, I worked in a standard 9-to-5 office environment. The transition was a lot easier than I was thought it would be and I'd like to share the tips and tricks I learned during that transition!
Disclaimer: I'm aware that not all jobs/workplaces are the same, I'll try to keep these tips as broad as possible.
First things first. How are you going to work from home?
Check with your supervisor or I.T. department to see if you can take a computer or laptop home. If you're taking a machine from your organization then check what resources in your organization are only available on-site or with a special network connection. It can be a real pain (from an I.T. perspective --trust me I've been that I.T. person) to set these things up once you're off-site.
If they're instructing you to use your own personal computer then make sure you get a list of any software you'll need to access your company's resources.
Checking these things should help save you a trip back to the office.
Without a doubt, the main perk of working from home is not having to commute. I would spend up to two hours a day commuting before I started working from home. Enjoy this newfound time in your day but don't abuse it.
My advice is to treat your 'warm-up' time as your new commute time. However long that may be, set your morning alarms according to that.
If you start work at 8 am and it takes you 30 minutes to get ready, eat breakfast, and wake up, then set your alarms to 7:30 am! This may seem like a no-brainer, but trust me here, the temptation to snooze your alarm indefinitely is much greater when you don't have to drive somewhere. You will end up starting your workday half-asleep with no coffee if you don't respect the warm-up period.
In addition, I recommend making some attempt at a dress code. Getting dressed will help get your mind into work mode and will save you from an embarrassing scramble when a coworker inevitably video calls you out of the blue.
One of the hardest parts of working from home is starting work-life while stopping home life and vice versa. One way to help move your psyche into work mode is by separating your work area from your relaxation area.
Find an area in your home that you don't currently use and set up your new workspace there. That will help your brain understand, "this is where I get work done."
If you're like me and space is limited then I recommend getting a setup and tear down process in place for your workspace. Every night I move all of my personal stuff off my desk and prepare all my work materials. That helps me get right in the zone first thing in the morning.
I've found that there are actually fewer distractions at home than there were in the office. Water cooler chats don't exist unless you have someone else joining your home office. The main thing here is to maintain that work home separation. Don't attempt to vacuum the living room on a five-minute break. Save any home chores for lunch or after you're done working.
If you're using your personal computer I recommend setting up a separate user profile for work only. That will create a digital barrier between your personal and work life.
I've also started using focus apps like Forest to resist the urge to check my phone and help me concentrate on work.
When working from home, the chat app is how you digitally walk over to a coworker's cube and ask them a question.
I've found that nine times out of ten, voice chatting is best for discussing complicated issues. Don't be afraid to ask a coworker to hop on a quick voice chat for a few minutes to figure something out. Your mileage may vary but I've found instant messaging huge walls of text back and forth with a colleague is only slightly better than emailing. A five-minute voice call will provide the context of a 30-minute chat session.
Make use of features like statuses to display what you're working on, or at the very least, display when you're taking a break.
Once you're done for the day, be done. Whenever you find that good stopping point, pack up your stuff and sign off. It's too easy to let work bleed into your home life when your commute is two minutes down the hall.
There's certainly more to working from home than what I've learned. But I believe this is a solid primer for working remotely. Now get back to work (at home) and impress your boss and team with these new skills you've learned! Maybe even share this post with them. 😏