“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” ― Erasmus
Whether you chose to work remotely or your company is enforcing a home office policy (namely due to the COVID-19), working outside of the regular office set up does come with pros & cons. Enjoying the pros and mastering the cons is essential if you’re looking to succeed with this new work set up.
In this post, we will share with you the top 5 habits adopted by some of the best performers we advise. Ensuring you’re productive but also feeling motivated is paramount.
The key here is to build up a routine and a set of habits that will help you successfully transition from working from an office to working from home.
We will describe each habit with actionables and expected outcomes. Some may sound simple, but wait until you try. Here we go!
1 - Create your Work Space
By “space” we mean anything from a separate room to a corner on a table. Some might go to coffee shops, libraries etc... But if you have to stay at home, what that space is doesn’t matter, what matters is how you shape it.
Even if you have to set it up everyday, make sure to create a routine around it.
Tidy the workspace and remove anything distracting. For example, if you’re using a living room table, empty it before you start working.
Set up your workspace with everything you generally use for work. Take your laptop out, your notebook, sticky notes, coffee/tea cup, headphones etc...
If needed, invest in a chair or cushions. Anything that provides comfort.
OUTCOME: Associate a specific space/area with a productive work atmosphere.
2 - Dress Accordingly
Since you’re not commuting, it might be difficult to relate to a “going to work” mindset. One good way to get around this is simply to dress up as if you were actually going to work. In effect you are, you’re just doing it from home. Think about it like gym/exercise clothes. You get dressed for success.
Just changing from pyjamas to your usual attire will put you in a more productive mindset.
Keep your usual weekday morning routine. Bear in mind it’s not the weekend yet.
Dress up to get ready for the day.
OUTCOME: Use your outfit as a switch between a non-work mode to a work-mode.
3 - Have a strict Working Schedule
Structure your day like you would back in the office. Being at home doesn’t mean you're off.
You need to have a starting time, breaks and a time where you just call it a day. Do not underestimate this, otherwise you can totally forget about your work/life balance. Literally.
This is all the more important since you’re merging your home and your office.
Make sure you’re at your dedicated work space 5min before your work starting time.
Do a 10min break at least every 2h.
Make sure you take your lunch break and shut off your laptop (we suggest getting out of your home if possible).
When your work day is over, do close your laptop and turn off your phone. It's easy to endlessly stretch your work hours when at home, at the cost of your own productivity and health...
NOTE: Make sure your colleagues know about your working schedule so they’re aware of your availability.
OUTCOME: Clear boundaries between work and non-work time. This ensures you’re efficient and have a healthy work/life balance.
4 - Be clear with your tasks, for yourself and your team
As you’ve defined your working hours, the next step is to stay on schedule with what you need to achieve.
You are now your own personal manager and losing focus comes quicker than you might think. Task setting doesn’t (and shouldn’t) differ from when you’re at the office, make sure you keep a clear sight on your objectives.
Create calendar reminders for each task / project you need to spend time on. This will allow you to keep an eye on time constraints.
Stay on track with your team. We usually suggest checking in with your colleagues over video at least twice a day (morning and early afternoon).
OUTCOME: A clear and organised working plan which will help you minimise distractions.
5 - Fight Loneliness
One of the major challenges of modern society, which remote and home office workers may face, is loneliness. Offices have the advantage to bring people together, but thankfully there are ways to recreate that feel while at home.
Communicating with colleagues on a regular basis. Of course keeping it productive (we tend to lose focus quicker on conference calls, meeting that last more that 15-30min are less productive - see this interesting HBR post.)
When calling, use Video. You and your colleagues spend your time glaring at a screen, don’t continue this when you have the chance not to. Some people will be happy to see where you live/work, see your dogs, kids etc… This creates strong bonds.
Use the same practice when calling friends & family. Video first!
When possible, getting out of home is a good practice. Go out to grab lunch, get a coffee, go for a walk, gym etc…
Use your extra time for activities that stimulate you or just make you happy (read, write, draw, meditate, learn, exercise, play etc…). You now have time to try new things or improve in some of your favorite fields.
OUTCOME: Create a set of social and self development habits that will keep you healthy.
Most people who chose to work remotely or from home do it to have more freedom on what they do. If it's not a choice, don't let it become a burden, there are so many perks coming with it.
It is all about habits and knowing what you will be facing will avoid lots of mistakes.
Enjoy your productive and healthy home office set up.
Youssef & The Scalelab Team