If you’re not used to working from home, you may think it’s easy and there’s not much to it. After all, how difficult can it be to plunk your laptop down on your lap, the kitchen table or another place? And there’s TV! You can enjoy come coffee, with your laptop in front of you, and then have the TV on while you work. It’s only background noise, right? Wrong!
If you’ve not worked from home before, you may not be prepared for what happens when you’re trying to work. Do you have a spouse or partner? Do you have kids? They will quickly become distractions. How do we know, because we’ve been working from home for years and know how easily it is for our significant others, kids and even pets to want our attention. By the way, do you have a cat? Be prepared to not work—your cat will either be in your lap or on the keyboard, or both!
We’ve put together some tips to help you get set up to work at home successfully. Let’s get started!
1). Create a workspace: just like at the office you have a specific spot to work, you’ll need to set up a place in home your home that becomes a designated workspace. Each home is different—from flats to large homes with basements. Wherever you live, you’ll need to determine a work area.
You’ll need to set up a physical space to work in/on. This may be a room that’s not being used at the moment, or it could be a corner of the dinner table. Find what works for you.
When you’re in this spot/area, then you’ll need to understand you must work here. And let others in your home know when you’re working, then they shouldn’t disturb you. We understand this may be a little more difficult with a cat in the house. They do tend to disregard what we tell them, they’re individuals, after all! But really, it’s necessary to set up a spot that’s physically and psychologically your workspace. This isn’t where you sit to play video games, it’s where you dedicate time and focus to your work.
2). Desk is best: if possible, it’s best to work at a desk, or at least a table that’s about the same height as a desk. You may not be able to accomplish this, especially if you live in a small flat. However, if you can manage it, a desk is the best option. That brings us to where to sit.
3). Use a chair: again, if it’s at all possible, be sure to sit in a chair to work and avoid sitting on the couch. If you need to work from the couch, that’s OK. Working while sitting on a couch can be back for your neck, shoulders and back. But sitting in a chair is the best option. The reason is ergonomics. Your monitor should be at about eye height, and your desk/table the length of your arm away. If you need to buy a chair, look for one that has adjustable armrests and adjustable chair height. This way, you’ll be able to adjust the chair so it’s ergonomically correct and comfortable.
4). Get up and move around: it’s easy, especially when working from home, to fall into the habit of just staying where you are, sitting and working in front of your computer. However, this is bad for your mind and body. Instead, be sure to get up and move around at least once an hour. This gets the blood flowing and relieves muscles that have been stuck in one position for too long. Your mind will also benefit from taking a quick break.
5). Your PC: you may already have a laptop from work, so this tip won’t apply to you. However, if you need a PC to work from home what type of computer is best? If you’re short on space, then a laptop might be the best option. A laptop doesn’t take up much space, and you may need to move to another are in the house, especially if someone else needs your spot. If you need to buy a laptop, Amazon and Best Buy often have some great deals.
What about a Chromebook? Can you work from home on a Chromebook? You may want to check with your company’s IT department to see if a Chromebook offers the functionality you need for the type of work you do.
When it comes to keyboards, you can either use the one that’s on the laptop or opt for a wireless keyboard. This may be a better option if you have large hands and fingers, and/or find it very uncomfortable typing on laptop keys.
6). More monitors: generally speaking, working with more monitors increases productivity. For one thing, it gives you more space and you can work with multiple applications at one time. If you’re using a laptop, you’ll need mobile monitors. Here are some ideas to help you out:
- Check to see if you have an older 1080p flat-panel display, or even a TV. These can be set up as a second monitor.
- You can also use a USB powered portable monitor, some of which you can buy for $100. Some of these cheaper versions may only have a resolution of 768p, but they can still work in a pinch.
- Do you have an older laptop laying around? You can even use the device’s screen as another monitor.
- Don’t forget tablets—if you have a larger tablet around the house, this can also be pressed into service.
You may not have or want another monitor—that’s OK. You can definitely work with a single screen. However, if you do need an extra “screen,” Windows 10 offers Task View, which makes it easy to switch between “screens” by swiping them back and forth. No extra monitor needed.
7). Using a webcam: many of us are not comfortable with the thought of using a webcam with team members, business partners and clients. If you’re an introvert, it can be downright scary just to think of sitting in front of a webcam for work. We understand.
However, using a webcam to visit with your team members can make things so much easier. For one thing it’s much faster to speak instructions and thoughts than writing them down. Not only is it more work to write it out, but there’s also the possibility the person on the other end may misinterpret or not completely understand what you mean. Video calls can cut down on these issues.
When it comes to webcams, you can either use the webcam on your laptop or purchase a webcam. The camera should be placed at about eye level. You may also find that your webcam software allows you to mute and/or use privacy settings to “mute” your image.
When it comes to working with a client, make sure the lighting is sharp so they can clearly see you. And you’ll want to ensure they can hear you well with a good mic. And don’t forget—they can see you, at least from the waste up. It’s OK to stay in your PJs or sweatpants, just be sure to have on a professional shirt or top, and that you’ve done your morning grooming.
8). Establish work hours: you’ll want to create some structure in your workday be establishing dedicated work hours. You want to avoid working 24/7, but still need to have times where you focus on work. You’ll be more productive if you have dedicated work times.
These are some tips to help you get started working from home. It can be challenging, but it is doable, even if you have kids, a partner/spouse, and pets who would love to grab your attention!
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