Written by Suzette Blakemore & Tammie McKenzie

Studies show that employees who work from home are more productive and happier than employees who don’t. HOWEVER, if you suddenly find yourself working from home, it might feel a little like you have been robbed! Robbed of your beautiful space, your co-workers, that awesome seaweed snack you love, and your favorite iced tea. Our team has remote working down to a science, and we collected some tips for newbies to help make your transition a little less painful.

Find a little spot that makes you happy and make it your own.

1. Define and claim your space. A spare bedroom makes a great office, but not everybody has one. If you don’t, pick a spot where you can minimize disruption during your work hours. A closet, kitchen table, or TV tray can give you enough working space if you are in a pinch. No matter where you decide to set up, make it clear to those living with you that during work hours, this is your space. 

2. Make your space feel great. Light it well. De-clutter. Think of all the tools you’ll need to make your job easier. Create a space for notepads, pens, a calculator, and anything else you might need. Give it a personal touch with your favorite desktop puzzle, a photo of your favorite place. These little things will give you a sense of “normal” and inspire creativity.

Spend a little time each day to make sure tomorrow is amazing.

3. Make your last priority each day to plan for tomorrow. The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity is a great way to start. Each evening take at least 10-minutes to plan your schedule for the next day. Nightly planning WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Spend time identifying your most important priorities and block time for what you’ll complete the next day. This planning will give you a natural start time to get your day rolling. If it’s important to start early, set a meeting to keep you accountable first thing!

4. Feed the right-brain. Don’t forget to carve out time for activities like planning, creative thinking, relationship building, and even BREATHING. When you work from home, these activities become more important than ever. Be sure to include them when you are planning your time.

Tone-down the bright and shiny objects so you can focus.

5. Make it clear to others that you are heads-down. If you’ve been working in a company office, your biggest distraction has probably been other people. At home, it’s no different, children, roommates, your spouse, even your pets can make it hard to concentrate! Make a plan to minimize distractions; it’s as easy as closing a door during work hours. If you don’t have this option, use visual or audible clues to signal you are working. Wear headphones, put up a sign, or designate music that lets them know you are in work-mode. White noise and headphones aren’t only great clues you are working; they can also be tools to increase your focus.

6. Manage your pings, rings, tings, and dings. You may find yourself more distracted by social media while working from home, especially if you are trying to keep up on the latest news. Turn off your audible and visual notifications from social media and news sites. This allows you to be proactive vs. reactive and consume the content you want when you want it.

Nobody is going to send you a special invitation to the party.

7. Stay connected. A 2017 Harvard Business Review Study indicates that at-home workers often feel disconnected. It’s your responsibility to stay active and engaged with your colleagues and clients; IM and video are a great way to do that. More frequent interactions and seeing the people you work with will increase your collaboration, build your relationships, and reduce feelings of isolation. 

8. Let your voice be heard, near or far. Out of sight, out of mind is a common problem for remote workers. Make sure others know your available even though you aren’t in the office. Stay in the know by reading company communications and interacting with others. Your insights and experience were likely a reason you were hired. Find a forum to express your ideas. Suggest collaboration calls, stay connected to your manager and peers. Make sure your contribution doesn’t get lost because you aren’t front and center.

Sharpen the saw for continuous improvement and renewal.

9. Get outside and open your mind. Take breaks and lunch away from your computer and devices. Step into the kitchen or outside for lunch. A little air and a new perspective will clear your head and increase your energy.

10. Choose a stopping time and stick to it. A study from US News and World Report found that remote workers are working 6-7 hours more per week than office workers. This is great news for your company, but it might not be great news for you. If you find yourself working late into the evening or working without lunches and breaks, you are not fueling your fire; you will burnout. When you do, you’ll be no good to anyone, most importantly yourself. 

11. Make your body and your mind happy. THIS IS THE BEST PART!!!! If you no longer need to commute to work, you are saving money and time—this a great time to form a new habit. Begin a new exercise regime, start a creative project, or learn to meditate. Working from home can be a gift of time. Use it wisely.

This is a challenging time all of us and going through significant change is never easy. Following these tips can help you prioritize your most important work, nurture your relationships, and keep yourself healthy and happy. 

 But no matter what, don’t forget to wash your hands!

Suzette Blakemore and Tammie McKenzie work for FranklinCovey and love helping clients achieve behavioral changes that lead to strategic results.