The staff at Share the Road have worked from home as a remote team since the organization was founded. With so many of our partners moving to remote work because of COVID-19, we thought that we could share some of our work from home tips with you!
Our current staff team has a collective 45 years of work from home experience. We hope that some of what we have learned during that time might be helpful.
Make space for work
As much as is possible, create a workspace in your home. This will be the space where you go that puts you in the “I’m working” mindset. The space does not have to be big or fancy, but you should focus on prioritizing comfort. Whether you’re sitting at a work desk, a shared table, or other arrangement, be aware of the height of your computer screen, comfort of your chair, etc and make adjustments as you go. We also recommend setting up near some natural light if possible. House plants help too!
It may take you a little while to figure out where you feel the most productive. You don’t have to build an Instagram-worthy home office in order to work from home. Adapt to what you need each day and move around if that’s what works for you.
Whether it’s going for a walk, having a mug of tea away from your desk or putting in a load of laundry, be sure to take breaks.
If you are worried about getting distracted while on your break, set a timer for when you want to get back to work. Similarly, you can set a timer to remind you to take a break, have a glass of water or just get up and walk around a little.
We’d also recommend finding a way to take a lunch break that does not include eating your lunch at your desk or while you check emails on your phone.
Find ways to stay connected to your team! We’re seeing a big increase in video meetings since more people moved to remote work. That can be helpful, but be sure to connect with team members outside of structured meetings as well.
When you are all in separate spaces it’s easy to lose the meaningful interpersonal connections that help make you a great team and stay connected as people. Phone, text and email each other about non-work stuff too to maintain those connections. This is particularly important for knowing when team members may need a little extra support during this uncertain time.
Staying connected doesn’t have to mean meetings and video calls. Be aware of how you are keeping people in the loop. Sometimes it can be as simple as cc’ing your manager on a follow up email.
When your workspace is in your home, it can be easy to wake up and just start working or to always be half at work into the evening. Try to set regular work hours for yourself and log off at the end of the day. Our team member Justin suggests giving yourself a little mantra to serve as a mental reminder that the work day is done. While closing his laptop at the end of the workday Justin says “and that’s the end of that chapter”.
Since you no longer have a morning commute, use that time to do an activity before work that you enjoy on your own or with your family. Our team member Erica suggests taking a walk or doing some reading before sitting down to work. Just because your office is now in your home doesn’t mean that work should be your main home activity.
If you are working at home alongside roommates or family members, try to create respectful boundaries there as well. Jamie from our team has been working from home alongside her husband for the past 2 years and they find that it’s important to see each other as “being at work” during the day. Try knocking on the door or wall before engaging in conversation so as not to be constantly interrupting each other.
For those of you working at home alongside children — this is a new one for us too! We’d love to hear your tips and we’ll share anything we come up with.
Be patient & communicate
We all have different ways of working and that’s okay! Use your time working at home to prioritize the way you need to work. What works for your colleague may not work for you.
Some people thrive when they prepare for the day just like they were going into the office. Wearing work clothes and packing a lunch. You’ll figure out what you need over time. Sometimes changing into a fresh pair of sweatpants can be enough to get you into a work from home mindset.
Working from home may also allow you to plan more around your most productive time of day, instead of planning around office work hours. Without a team surrounding you, it can be a challenge to stay motivated and it is so draining to feel like you have to sit alone at your desk until 5 if you finished your work by 3:30. Talk with your manager and team and find ways to prioritize work during your most productive time of day and let yourself off the hook when you’re done.
Most importantly, be nice to yourself as you figure this out. We’ve each been doing this for years and still struggle some days with working from home!