Raise your hand if you’ve worked remotely before. Good, it seems like quite a few of you have. Now, if you’ve worked remotely for more than a week at a time, keep your hand up. And finally, keep your hand up if you only work remotely. Wait… no one can see who’s hand is up, and we’re all working remotely at the moment. That didn’t go quite how I expected it.
Adjusting to working in an environment that is normally associated with relaxing, fun, family, or chores can be difficult. It’s fair to say that most of us are working either from their home office, kitchen, living room, bedroom, or maybe even laundry room (can you pass the detergent when you’re done? I have a load of socks to wash). Speaking from personal experience, I find that I am much more productive when I work from the cPanel office. I have access to teammates and other resources I don’t have at my own home.
Fortunately, some of my fellow cPanel employees have shared their experiences working remotely through email chains, Zoom conferences, and our Slack channel as a means to help everyone succeed while working from their home. This information has been helpful for us, so we wanted to share it with you. Below you’ll find some of our best tips for working remotely that the cPanel team has been passing back and forth.
1. Routines and habits matter.
“I try to just focus in on being in the same routine every single day.”
You don’t have to give up the same level of focus, motivation, and productivity generally associated with the office. However, when a part of your home becomes your workplace, it can be hard to treat it as a professional environment. To combat this, pretend you’re going to work.
Follow your regular daily routine by setting the alarm, shower, and dress as if you were heading into the office. Find a quiet, clean, dedicated space, and take regular breaks. A good rule to follow is 20/20/20: every twenty minutes, take a twenty second break and look at something twenty feet away. I like to take my kids for a walk every day around 2pm as a chance to get outside, stretch my legs, squeeze in a little exercise, and get my dog to stop scratching at the front door.
Make sure you avoid distractions like Netflix, video games, or your comfortable couch. The closer to a work environment your space is, the more successful you’ll be.
2. Talk to someone.
“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh
When you’re in an office environment, talking to colleagues is something that happens naturally throughout the day. When working from home, many days can pass without interaction from your teammates, leading to having strategy sessions with your puppy.
You’re going to have to make an effort to stay in touch, which means trying things like:
- Make talking to people a priority that is as necessary in your day as eating or finding funny quarantine memes.
- Whenever you have five or ten minutes, call a friend or family member to connect and take a well-deserved break from the grind.
- Set up scheduled times to communicate with your coworkers and put it on your calendar.
My team, for example, has an established call at the end of the day where we take 15-20 minutes to just talk to each other about whatever is on our minds. This allows us to remember we’re coworkers, we’re teammates, we’re human, and most importantly, we’re all in this together.
3. Put a stop to distractions.
“As soon as you figure out what you’re going to do, something will interrupt it.”
– Gary Cole
Often, significant others, children, and other household members can cause distractions as you work from home. They don’t always understand the boundaries that you need to protect your productivity and your dedicated workspace. This can frustrate both you and them, making for a tense environment.
Make sure you communicate with the people you share space with and let them know how important it is that you not be interrupted. Ask them to wait until you walk away from your workspace to engage in conversation. You might choose to put on headphones as a visual signal to show that you’re working, even if the headphones aren’t playing music.
Keep communication open and it’s important to let your loved ones and housemates know they are important, but that your work time is important as well and should be respected. By setting boundaries with people you live with, you can create a very healthy working relationship.
4. Take good care of yourself
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
– Oscar Wilde
Now that you’re at home all the time, you need to be even more diligent about building movement into the day. Squeeze in daily action, even if it’s inside your own kitchen.
A few things that are working for cPanelers to stay fit:
- Set goals to move for a certain number of minutes, or use a fitness tracker to gamify daily activity.
- Create physical progress goals that can be tracked such as shaving time off your run or lifting a bit more each day.
- Find a YouTube channel with workouts for your living room, or even take the time to learn new dance steps, yoga poses, or something else you love.
- Take the dog for a walk. No pup? Take yourself for a walk!
5. Get social online.
“You can either allow social media to be helpful for you or it can be harmful. I like to let it be helpful”.
It’s easy for some to be sucked into the vortex of TikTok videos or your favorite car group on Facebook. The best practice is to log out of all social media to avoid notifications, popups, etc. while working. This helps maintain concentration on essential tasks while avoiding social media rabbit holes.
If you’re worried you don’t have enough willpower to stay away from online distractions, there are lots of apps that will help you. If you use Chrome, try using the extension StayFocusd or try the SelfControl app for Mac OS, both available at no cost.
That said, taking a break to check in with your buddies social media is a good way to relax and catch up. It’s a good idea to keep your work and break spaces separate so that one doesn’t overtake the other, and know your limits. If you are the type to jump into an online discussion and lose all track of time, then save social for after work.
6. About that commute…
Every athlete acquires routines as a way to help control nerves.
– Hope Solo
Everyone loves to hate their commute to work, but the truth is a lot of people (maybe even you) rely on your commute to wake up and get into a working state of mind. Don’t discount the power of habit and your own daily routine that has provided cues for your brain in the past.
If you find yourself having a hard time getting into a working mindset at home, think about how you normally settle into work and try replicating some of those habits. If you always listen to your favorite podcast on the way in, stop for a cup of coffee in the breakroom, then head to your desk, you might try relaxing with a cup of coffee and a podcast in the morning at home helps you jumpstart your day.
The same goes for when you wrap up at the end of the working day. Set a time to stop and logoff. If you normally blast music on the way home to decompress, try doing the same thing when you shut down your computer (with headphones of course, because you are respecting other people’s boundaries too, right?)
7. Mental health matters, too.
“The only reason to have a positive mental attititude is that is makes life better.”
– Molly Ivins
Working remote is supposed to be a good thing that reduces stress, right? Well, that’s not always true. You may be trying to be productive around a group of people (your family) that you don’t work with, which can introduce a new set of complications. You may not have the exact equipment you need or find that the ergonomics of your kitchen table aren’t as good as your standing desk at work. There are a lot of little stresses that can add up to one big mental health challenge.
A tip that has helped me is when you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or stressed, take a minute or two and breathe. Remember that this is an extraordinary situation and that a heightened level of anxiety is expected. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a little buddy around. Take it easy on yourself and make sure you have a way to relax.
If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share, or if you want to talk about your working from home experience, please join the conversation on Discord or our official subreddit and share your ideas. Stay safe and take care of each other!