As we mentioned in our earlier article, detailing the best work from home setups, working from home can be a bit of a culture shock for some people. To go from a busy office to working alone in your remote home office can be a bit too much to bear and as a result, productivity plummets.

But with the right tweaks and the right mindset, it doesn’t have to be like this. Here are some remote office tips I’ve picked up over the 20 years I have been working from home.

Work When You’re The Most Productive

There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to work when you’re just not feeling your mojo. You either end up making yourself ill or you produce sub-standard useless work, which is ultimately a waste of your valuable time.

So define what time of the day you are most productive and work then. Some of you will have to work set hours, but if you have a flexible working job which lets you set your own hours, consider starting later in the day if it suits you better.

Have An Online Community In Place

To avoid social isolation while working in your remote office, you need to be able to speak to others during your work day. Especially your boss and your colleagues so you can coordinate on work, set deadlines, and gossip at the online water cooler about Jane from Accounts and her hot new boyfriend.

This is where video conferencing comes into play. The big players are Skype and Zoom, but you also have others like WhereBy (formerly known as Appear.In), and Facetime. Then there’s the smaller alternatives for one-on-one calling such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger (they can’t do group video calling though).

For text chatting though, the king is Slack, used by a multitude of companies including us. It makes online collaboration  and file transfers from a remote office absurdly easy. WhatsApp is also good for group text chatting and it also has a desktop version for easier faster typing.

Some remote offices get everyone on a group video chat and then leave it running all day. So your colleagues are “there” if you want to ask them anything, thereby creating the feel of a “real office.” Just don’t pick your nose in front of them.

Block Out Social Media & Other Distracting Websites

Take this remote office tip from someone who suffers from this problem every day. You try to get work started and you think to yourself “first, I’ll just quickly check Facebook….”.

Or replace “Facebook” with the name of your personal favourite time-wasting life-sucking site. Two or three hours later, you haven’t started work yet but you HAVE debated the merits of the 2020 US Presidential election with a dozen now-irate people.

If this sounds like you, you need to block out these websites for a specified period, so you can get down to work. Since you will likely need the Internet for work, you can’t block your whole web connection. But you can block individual sites, and this is a subject we have covered relentlessly. You can use the Windows Host File, Google Chrome, your router, parental control software, or these other great methods

On your phone and tablet, make sure all notifications and calls are muted while you’re working. This can be done with the Do Not Disturb setting on Android and iOS.

If you MUST Listen To Music, Listen To The Best Stuff

Opinion is divided over whether you should listen to music while working. Many people, including myself, can’t focus if there is music with lyrics. Others meanwhile can’t get a single thing done unless Eminem is rapping his behind off in headphones. Everyone is different.

If lyrics totally destroy your concentration, then there are several lyrics-free possibilities. The first is classical music (piano music is nice and calm). The second is ambient music, of which there is plenty online. Moby gives away relaxing ambient music on their website, while there are lots of alternatives on places like YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music. 

The third possibility is video games music. You know, the repetitive music you hear during games like Tetris, Super Mario Kart….

Again, a quick search on YouTube throws up countless playlists.

Last of all, you can put on your headphones and listen to white noise. White Noise & Co and Noisli are two, while Spotify has a white noise playlist. But like before, Google is your best friend for finding many many alternatives. Virtually all of them are free or have a free option.

Invest In The Best Tech Possible

The only way you are going to survive working from home is by making sure you have the best tech. We covered this in our recent article where our staff gave their recommendations. Give it a read and then give your own setup a serious review.

Invest In a Good To-Do List

Nothing is worse than trying to keep all of your outstanding tasks in your brain – then promptly forgetting them. Some people just have a Swiss cheese memory, no matter how hard they try to remember everything. That’s why a good to-do list is essential. Get everything out of your head and onto the list.

You can have something basic such as Apple’s Reminders, Google Keep, or even a basic text file. Or something more advanced such as Evernote, ToDoist, Trello (our favorite), or Microsoft OneNote.

Or you could simply go old-school and use pen and paper. Whatever floats your boat.

A Summary Of Other Tips

After asking others who work from a remote office, here are some other quick tips.

  • Get dressed. Don’t wear pyjamas to work.
  • Have clearly defined breaks and finishing times, including exercise time.
  • Decorate your working space with the right colours. For example, dark colours have been proven to stifle concentration and creativity, while lighter colours have been proven to have the opposite effect.
  • Try to surround yourself with plants and preferably have a pet (a dog is good for getting yourself out of the house).

What remote office tips do you have for the ideal working environment? Let us know in the comments.

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