I’ve Been Working From Home For 7 Years. Here’s What I Learned
How you can make the most of remote work
Covid came and forced the whole world to work from home. That affected many people’s routines as they didn’t know how to work without an office.
Remote work came as a temporary solution that can be around us forever as more people understand how to do it properly.
I founded a gaming company in 2012. In 2014, I decided to get rid of the office to save money. At that time, I had two employees working with me.
After that, I built a profitable business and a fantastic team of 13 people. Two of them lived in Germany, and the rest lived throughout Brazil (that’s where I am from).
Remote work was not that popular as it is nowadays. If you want to get the most of working from home, there are some things you may do to help you with that.
Wear whatever you want
When you’re not working from home, you take a shower, put on some work clothes, and then go to the office. Work clothes may feel like a uniform to get work done by many people. The problem with work clothes is that most of them aren’t comfortable.
Many people stopped using those clothes when working from home and chose more comfortable ones — usually pajamas. But, I saw many people saying that you should be professional and wear work clothes even if you’re working from home. I’m afraid I have to disagree with that.
How many times have you seen someone arriving at home and taking the work clothes off? They’ve been suffering for the whole day and now they can finally breathe! Why do people need to wear those clothes?
Many industries say they can’t change that as the professional looks sent a message to customers. But, allowing more comfortable clothes shouldn’t be that difficult.
I must confess that I usually work wearing my pajamas at home. I may change my T-shirt to something more decent to appear in video calls (nobody is going to see if I’m wearing pants or not, right?). But, there were many times that I didn’t do that in my company depending on the meetings I had.
Working wearing pajamas won’t make you less productive. Your body understands when you’re in a work environment and focuses on getting work done no matter what you’re wearing. What you need is to be comfortable. I would probably be less productive if I had to wear anything that makes me uncomfortable.
I know people that do love to wear suits to work. If that’s your case, go for it. Wear whatever makes you feel better to work whenever you are at home or the office.
Separate work from entertainment
Studies have shown that different environments should have different purposes. As part of the general guidelines for good sleep, bedrooms are for sleep and sex, not for other activities. You should not be doing work there.
Electronics such as television and computer should not be in your sleep environment. You should remove them. Not only will they prevent you from falling asleep, but they may become disruptive at inopportune times and wake you back up.
The same applies to work. When you go to the office, you know that is not a place to watch television. Your brain understands what you will probably do in different environments. That prepares you for different tasks.
You should have a place in your home that generates the same feeling as the office. When you stop working, you leave that place. That way will help your brain understand that you’re not working anymore. You can relax and think about other things.
When I started working from home, I didn’t have separated environments. It was only when I faced burnout that I changed that.
One of my partners advised me to buy a television to separate my living room into two environments. I should have a space for work and another for entertainment. It wasn’t anything fancy. It was something simple that allowed me to relax better after work and do a better job the next day.
Creating an environment for work in your home will help you be more productive and eliminate stress from working from home. It doesn’t matter where or which size you choose to do that.
Have a routine
Many people think that they can run away from the work routine as they work from home and start to work anytime they want. It is not because you can work anytime in your home that you should.
The same way that you have time to start and stop working in an office, you should have one in your home. Having a work routine at your place is essential for productivity. Your brain understands when you should or shouldn’t be working. It’s the same as having a work environment.
It is also easier to work longer hours because you are at home. We usually have many things to do, and we may think we could finish one more task. When we notice, it is late at night. You may think you are working more, but sometimes what is happening is that you’re less productive. You then decide to spend more time working.
If you ignore how you work, you can procrastinate more as you think you can compensate by working later. You are at home, what is the matter? That isn’t productively and healthy, though.
I usually wake up at 6 AM, work from 8 AM to 11 AM, go to the gym, and work again from 2 PM to 7 PM. I have a well-defined routine that allows me to organize my time and be productive.
Working from home gives you more flexibility to adapt to different or unexpected situations. You should enjoy that. Not having to go to the office can provide you with time freedom, but you should use it wisely. You should have a well-defined routine and improvise on top of it if you need to.
Tell others that you’re working
If you live with more people, it may be difficult for them to understand that you are working. We use to see people leaving their houses to go to work. If you are at home, it may seem to others that you aren’t doing something important.
One day, I was coming back from the gym at lunchtime, and a mother of a friend of mine came to talk to me as I was entering the building. She asked me if I was unemployed. I was at home by lunchtime, so I was probably not working, right? That is what people usually think.
The people you live with may know that you are working from home but may want to chat anyway. It’s stronger than them.
When I lived with my mother and worked in my bedroom, she wanted to chat with me almost every time I crossed the door. Rarely it was something serious. As she saw me outside my working environment, she thought that it was ok to chat. When I worked in an office, she didn’t call me to talk to as she understood that I was working. At home, the situation was different.
Most of the time that my mom talked to me, I answered impatiently. She was mad at me because of that. She didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. I needed to teach her about what I was doing to change that. I had to remember my mom constantly that I was working and chatting could disturb my productivity. After a few weeks, she finally understood what I was doing.
Let clear for the people living with you when you’re working so they can help you to be more productive at home by not disturbing you.
Get out of your home and socialize
For this topic, let’s consider we are in a free Covid world.
Human beings are social beings. We like to socialize. When you go to the office, it is easier to talk to people, get together for lunch, and have drinks after the day is over. When you work from home, you lost that. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way to do that anymore.
A study found participants were more likely to report good health and well-being when they spent 120 minutes or more in nature a week. The good vibe peaked at 200 to 300 minutes a week. Anything less than two hours didn’t make a difference.
As you are working from home, it is easier not to get out of where you are and spend most of your time at the same place.
I start my day walking for 30 minutes outside in some park with trees. That walk helps me to think about what I have to do for the day. At lunch, I take a big break and go to the gym, which helps me go back to work revitalized.
As I had employees spread in different locations for my company, it wasn’t easy for us to get together. We had an in-person barbecue every semester where we brought the whole company to one place. Apart from that, people that worked in the same city saw each other from time to time.
What we also did to help with socialization was to have online encounters. We mostly talked about not related work subjects and had drinks, simulating the life of a bar. Even though we were still at our homes, it was nice to spend time with other people.
Even though you’re not working in an office, don’t forget to get out of your home, get some fresh air, and socialize.
I don’t see myself working in an office again. I like the home-office routine and the time and location independence that I have.
If you believe you or your company will be more productive with an office, then go for it. The critical thing to remember is that office is not an obligation for success. It is a choice.
Choosing to work from home can help you save a lot of money, especially in the beginning. If you do that, you need to understand the difference between having people working from home than in an office.
Working from home isn’t for everyone. I had to organize different processes to allow remote work for my company and me. Also, I needed to hire people that could adapt to that environment.