This article is a collaborative post.
Even before the pandemic, 80% of employees said they wanted a partial work-from-home setup. Now, after nearly two years of working from home, many are ready to commit and transition into a remote setup for the long term.
Indeed, experts predict that 25% to 30% of the US workforce will be working from home at least one day a week after the pandemic.
Companies like Google are also letting their employees extend the work-from-arrangement. Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter are allowing their staff to permanently stick with a remote work setup.
Now that many employees have experienced the benefits of remote work, they’ll be ready to demand more flexible options as we transition into an economic reopening. If you’ve just started a new job with work-from-home arrangements or are transitioning to a hybrid remote-onsite setup, here are some things you need to keep in mind:
1. Get an Affordable, Comfortable, and Professional Work-from-Home Wardrobe
While it’s appealing at first to work in pajamas or sweatpants, we associate these clothes with our downtime on the bed and the couch. By contrast, throwing on an outfit you associate with the office will put you in the mindset of beginning the workday. So, put together a wardrobe that recreates dressing up for work, which could include dresses and footless tights.
To start, look through the pieces you already have and see which ones you’ve worn regularly at the office. These can form your remote work wardrobe. Begin your day by changing into an ensemble based on these pieces and your body and mind will both become primed for the work ahead.
2. Know the Ground Rules and Follow Them
Ask a lot of questions during your orientation, such as whether you need to follow a strict nine-to-five or if the company allows for flexibility within an eight-hour shift. How much time do they let you spend on personal matters if they allow for a more flexible schedule? How will you log your hours? Do they require an isolated space for meetings or are they okay with some minor background noise?
Make sure your future employer sets clear ground rules that are easy to follow. Clarify how they will track and measure your hours so that no problems arise in the future regarding your pay. It’s always better to ask and know the answers to these questions than to not know at all and regret it later on.
3. Closely Coordinate with Your Boss Regarding the Remote Work Set-up
During the pandemic, both employees and managers had to adjust accordingly to remote setups. Unfortunately, not all of them knew what to do, as it was their first time working from home.
If you’ve had prior experience working from home, list what your company can improve in terms of communication. Feel free to make suggestions that can promote more productivity with the new setup. Ask your boss what their expectations are and communicate yours as well given the limitations of remote communication methods. If you can, request a meeting to discuss how you can better achieve your goals as a remote worker and how your performance will be tracked and graded.
Also, get an idea of how many employees are working in-office, remotely, or a hybrid of both set-ups. Then, explore the best ways of communicating with your coworkers based on these setups.
4. Invest in a Practical and Comfortable Working Space
If your company invests in specific types of equipment for the workplace, you’ll need to do the same for your home office. Before anything else, check if you have room for a dedicated workspace at home. If you don’t, you may have to settle for a small setup in a corner of another room, such as your bedroom, your living room, or even your dining room.
Do note, however, that it can be tricky to work in a space that has no clear physical boundaries from your personal spaces. If needed, try putting up room dividers or curtains to at least create the impression of having a separate office space.
In case you don’t already have your own work equipment, ask your company if they’ll be providing you with a laptop, mouse, keyboard, and the necessary software for your position. Don’t hesitate to ask if they provide employees with allowances for other work-related equipment or services like a better internet connection, a new desk, and an ergonomic chair. Find and buy a standing desk for a fatigue-reducing ergonomic solution. Be sure to communicate these needs politely and show how the company will benefit from providing you with these tools and furniture.
5. Work with Other Remote Workers in Your Household
The number of people working from home has increased since 2020. Your husband, wife, parent, roommate, or sibling may have just become your new co-worker. In most cases, at least two people in every household are working from home and competing for bandwidth while taking video calls or carrying out tasks.
Do you have a difficult time concentrating around your family member or roommate’s working habits? Sit down with them and agree on some ground rules so that everyone can work productively. For example, your household can set up a calendar showing everyone’s scheduled meetings for quick and easy reference. For parents with children, divide chores and childcare responsibilities according to your respective schedules.
Above all, always communicate with your co-workers slash roommates regarding each other’s needs. This can go a long way toward fostering a more peaceful and productive environment at home.
6. Schedule Time for Social Interaction
Even the most introverted individuals can feel cabin fever after months of working alone at home. You can lose your sense of time when you’ve been spending countless consecutive days and nights at home. This is made even worse when you work from home, too.
So, make room in your schedule for some activities outside of the house. Take daily walks outdoors or attend an exercise class a couple of times a week, for instance. You can also have your lunch outside or try catching up with a loved one over coffee during a break. Whatever you plan, make sure the activity takes your mind off of the work you do eight hours daily.
Like the job you’re signing up for, working from home is a long-term commitment. While some of us may look forward to only having to take a few steps from our bed to our desk, this type of setup also comes with its own cons like isolation and increased household costs. The circumstances may also change given the global pandemic, so many of us also need to be flexible. It’s all a matter of committing to your tradeoffs and making the most out of the remote working situation.
Whether you end up working from home or going with a hybrid setup in the coming months, you’ll see what conditions make you most productive and adjust over time. Do the necessary research and preparations so that you can make the most out of a remote working setup.