Things I’ve learned from my first year working from home

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I’ve been working for XWP since late 2015, and this has been my first job where I’ve worked remotely. Going from a job of daily face-to-face interactions in an office to fully remote has been challenging, to say the least. If I’m not intentional about it I can easily go for days on end with little social interaction. Below are a list of things I’ve found that have helped me adjust to this new lifestyle.

GET OUT OF THE OFFICE

It doesn’t matter if you get out of the office to take a break, or even to work from another location, as long as you get out.

I regularly go out and meet with my girlfriend at her work. When I am going to a WordPress meetup in Brisbane (which is about 1.5hrs away from where I live) I will arrange to work from a nearby library with other remote workers. I’ve found that it’s a great way to socialise but also see how others work.

In 2016, I was lucky enough to attend WordCamp Europe and WordCamp US. In both instances, I got to meetup with other team members. Not only were we working together in the same room but we were also able to do some team building exercises, like Go-karting in Riga, Latvia.

Other places I’ve used for work have been local coffee shops, friend’s places and also the local university. I’ve also used apps like Workfrom which allows you to see a list of the best places to work from in your current city. It even shows how good the WiFi is and if those places have ample amounts of power ports available.

GET A GYM MEMBERSHIP

This is what I’d say is my hobby, so if you don’t want to go to the gym, I’d highly suggest getting a hobby that will get you out of the house and get your mind off work. Not only does going to the gym keep you fit and healthy, it’ll encourage socialising with other people who aren’t generally in your industry. A typical week for me:

  • 1x Personal Training session
  • 2x Bootcamps
  • 2x Gym sessions

Also, I’ve set myself goals for 2017, which means I’m doing more running outside than I would normally do. I’m doing a 10km fun run in March and a half marathon in June.

SET-UP A COMFORTABLE WORKSPACE

This is probably the most important thing I learned in the first year of working from home. Your workspace needs to be a place that you actually want to work from, not only on a daily basis but also for long periods of time.

Here are a few tips for doing so:

  • Have a comfortable office chair – A cheaper chair isn’t worth it for long periods of time. Here in Australia we have the AFRDI-certification (Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute), which are chairs that comply with AS/NZS 4438. They are ergonomically sound, tough, durable and safe. The chair that I use costs around $450, and trust me it was worth every cent.
  • Have a desk that works for you – While a lot of people are using standing desks, I have yet to go this way. It’s partly because I have a decent chair that I can sit long hours in, but also I am very active during my day. If you do decide to go with a standing desk, choose a sit & stand desk because just like sitting all day, we aren’t meant to stand all day either.
  • Having the right tools – This isn’t just limited to the software, having a good keyboard and mouse setup will help with strain on your wrists. I also have 2 x 24” Dell Monitors that help me be more productive throughout the day.
  • Decent speakers/headphones – Invest in some decent speakers and/or headphones for listening to music and podcasts. This will help drown out noise from the outside world. Some good noise cancelling headphones like Bose QC-25s are great for long flights and when working at noisy coffee shops.
  • Make your office your own – Add some indoor plants, family photos, posters or whatever. Decorate it however you want; just make sure it’s clean and not messy.
  • Light – Having a decent amount of light in your home office makes a big difference to not only your work but also your sleep. Mike has written an awesome article that’s about this and other things that can affect your sleep.

SEPARATE WORK LIFE FROM PERSONAL LIFE

When you finish work for the day, make sure it stays finished. It can be really hard to work from home and not do work do work in off hours. Here are some tips I’ve come across that work for me most of the time:

  • Have a separate room to work from, one that isn’t close to the living room or dining room
  • Close the door at the end of the day and make sure it stays closed
  • Try and not check work emails or work Slack
  • Make sure to spend enough time with your family

Remember most of all: work will still be there tomorrow.

What have you found that works for you when working remotely?

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