WORKING FROM HOME, FOLLOW THESE COMMANDMENTS!

Updated: Aug 26, 2020


Google, Microsoft, Twitter. Hitachi, Apple, Amazon. Chevron, Salesforce, Spotify. From the UK to the US, Japan to South Korea, these are all global companies that have, in the last few days, rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of Covid-19.


Google, Microsoft, Twitter. Hitachi, Apple, Amazon. Chevron, Salesforce, Spotify. From the UK to the US, Japan to South Korea, these are all global companies that have, in the last few days, rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of Covid-19.

And it’s realistic to assume that shifting to the ‘home office’ will become the new normal for many of us for a while, given Wednesday’s announcement by the World Health Organization that the coronavirus has officially reached ‘pandemic’ status. Some employees will be working from home for the first time, which means figuring out how to stay on task in a new environment that may not lend itself to productivity.


But there are ways to deliver results and avoid going stir-crazy, from setting up a good workspace to the way you talk to your team. Crank up the communication Coronavirus or not, the key to working from home is clear communication with your boss – and knowing exactly what’s expected of you. “Have really clear-set expectations for communications day to day,” says Barbara Larson, a professor of management at Northeastern University in Boston who studies remote working. “Ask [your manager] if they don’t mind having a 10-minute call to kick off the day and wrap up the day. Often times, managers just haven’t thought of it.” Most people spend their days in close proximity to their boss, meaning communication is easy and effortless.

Most people spend their days in close proximity to their boss, meaning communication is easy and effortless.


But that’s all out the window with remote work, and communication breakdown is even more likely if your workplace isn’t used to remote working. Your manager might not be used to managing people virtually, for example, or your company might not have a ready-to-go suite of tools for remote workers, like the chat app Slack or video conferencing app Zoom, Larson says. But even for those accustomed to it, working from home can feel unstructured and isolating. Last year, a study of 2,500 remote workers by online brand development agency Buffer found that loneliness was the second-most reported challenge, one experienced by 19% of respondents. Loneliness can make people feel less motivated and less productive.

Out of sight, out of mind can be a real problem for remote workers – Sara Sutton So when you do communicate with your boss and team from home, it helps if as much of it as possible can be “richer” communication that's face-to-face and instant, Larson says: video calls, Skype, Zoom. “Out of sight, out of mind can be a real problem for remote workers,” says Sara Sutton, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, a remote job listing site. “The very best remote workers will reach out to coworkers and managers regularly” through a variety of tools. ‘Treat it like a real job’ There are also some timeless WFH tips to call upon. For example, just because you can lounge around in your pajamas doesn’t mean you actually should. “Take a shower and get dressed. Treat it like a real job,” says Larson. If you don’t have a home office, do as much as you can to create an ad hoc, bespoke space exclusively for work. “Not having a well-equipped home office space when [people] begin remote working can cause a temporary decrease in productivity,” Sutton explains. She says double monitors and a wireless keyboard and mouse make her more productive at home. So instead of lying in bed with a laptop, try something more deliberate.


The fix could be something as simple as moving a nightstand into a corner far away from distractions, plopping down your computer and sitting in an upright chair, like you would at your office desk. (Be mindful of ‘tech neck’ and other ergonomic needs, though.) This also serves as an important signal to those who live with you that you’re ‘at work’. “Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand: ‘When the door is closed, pretend I’m not there,’” says Kristen Shockley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia. With a dedicated workspace where you can concentrate, it becomes easier to unlock the benefits of remote work. In a survey of 7,000 workers last year by FlexJobs, 65% said they’re more productive working from home, citing benefits like fewer interruptions from colleagues, minimal office politics and reduced stress from commuting. ‘Psychological segues’, like a 20-minute morning coffee or afternoon exercise, can put you in the right working mindset Yet it’s also important to bookend your day. 

In that Buffer survey, the most-cited WFH complaint was the inability to unplug after work. If you can’t commute or enter and leave a physical office, which provides clearer boundaries to the workday, Shockley suggests “psychological segues” that can help put you in the right mindset: like a 20-minute coffee in the morning and then exercise right after work to open and close the day. “Even if childcare isn’t an issue, it’s still easy when you’re home [to think]: ‘I have laundry to do, let me do it real quick,’” she says. “You have to [put] yourself in a frame of mind that you’re really working.” Avoid feeling isolated Still, even with these tools, the enf