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Master the art of working from home: 8 simple but very effective tips

Anna Hoffman
Lead, People and Culture Transformation

Are you relatively new to the world of remote working? If so, it’s only natural that it feels like a bit of a culture shock. But swapping the office for your humble abode isn’t all bad. In fact, I think there can be a lot more upsides to remote working than downsides—if you know how to do it right, that is.

I’ve worked from home for over ten years now, so I feel like I’ve officially mastered the art! These are my top tips.

1. Set up clear communication channels

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to communicating online these days. I recommend using a mixture of channels to stay connected to your team. Make use of email and instant messenger, set up team video calls, and plan time for one-on-ones.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to communicating with your team is to set up clear working agreements that take into account different time zones and working hours. Some members of your team will have different needs or family commitments depending on their home life, and that’s OK. In fact, that’s what working from home is all about. So long as everyone is in the know about what to expect and when, your team can still deliver their best work.

2. Stay focused

Spend 5-10 minutes in the morning identifying your top three priorities for the day. Identify the different tasks that you need to achieve and plan your day around them. Break your day up into sizable chunks and make sure you factor in any meetings you have too.

3. Don’t just communicate—really connect

When you’re working from home, one of the biggest things you’ll miss is the simple camaraderie of being around your team. I know not everyone is a big fan of video, but it is 100% the best way to create a meaningful connection. In the absence of normal social cues, building rapport on video relies on things like body language, eye contact, and facial expression—so make an effort to show you’re engaging with what the other person is saying.

Also, the small talk that occurs naturally in the office is something you have to intentionally make time for over video. I find it really helpful to take five minutes at the start of every meeting to ask a question that helps the team bond. Something as simple as “How was your week-end?” is an ice-breaker that will allow for a better flow of conversation when your team delves into the real topic at hand.

4. Keep things interesting

If you’re hosting a big team call, make use of all the great features that your technology offers. Use a poll and share the results, for example. Allow for instant messaging during the call too, because not everyone feels comfortable speaking up. If you want to mix things up, play a game of ‘Fact or Fiction’ to get people participating. Activities like brainstorming, sharing ideas, and interactive presentations should be just as integral to your online meeting as they would be in the office.

5. Set boundaries and take breaks

Sometimes when you get into your work it can be hard to step away—especially when your colleague’s not there to invite you out for coffee. If you want to keep being productive and avoid burn out, it’s essential that you make time for regular breaks. And don’t even think about skipping your lunch hour! Why not take your next meeting outside? Step out into the sunshine and take a breath. You’ll feel better for it.

6. Check in

You may have a call scheduled with someone in a few days’ time, but that’s no reason not to check in with them today and ask how they’re doing. The transition to working from home can be tougher on some people than others. Watch out for everyone in your team. Small gestures can make all the difference.

7. Celebrate the successes

At the end of each day, jot down your top three wins. It doesn’t matter how small or how big they are. It might have been getting a small job done that you were putting off, or it may have been something really significant. Either way, it’s important that you recognize your achievements. It will keep you motivated. Equally, you should make a special effort to acknowledge your team members’ good work too. Every Friday send a thank-you note to someone on your team who helped you out or impressed you that week. It will make their day!

8. Get the balance right

Working from home gives you back the time from your commute, but it also means you don’t have that time to adjust between your work and home life. If you had a particularly intense day, take some time to wind down and let go of work before you transition into whatever needs your attention that evening. Bringing problems from one area of your life to another helps neither. Rituals can help with this—listen to some music to ease between transitions, do some exercise, or clear your mind with meditation.

So there you have it, my top tips for being healthy and productive when working from home. What do you love about working from home? Share your top tips in the comments and let us know what works for you.

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