woman reading working-from-home tips

A 15-second commute from your bed to your desk. Your only coworkers of the furry variety. No more valiantly waging a thermostat war. Escaping your cubicle for the comforts of working from home sounds like a dream. And the reality? It is – at Goodway, we should know: We’ve been working remotely for 12 years and can say without a doubt remote work works. And you can make it work too. Read on and learn what our Goodway pros know – all the working-from-home tips and tricks you need to succeed:

1. Get ready for work.

Start your day early and find a good routine. For instance, build in ample time to leisurely walk the dog, tidy up, work out, shower and make coffee. Or how about watching TV or listening to a podcast while filing your emails? Once you get a few quick wins for the day, when you sit down (or stand up) at your desk, you’ll be ready to focus and work.

2. Love your “commute” time.

In the U.S., the average one-way commute time is 26.1 minutes, so round trip, that’s over 52 minutes a day. Since you no longer have to hit the road for work, save these precious minutes just for you – explore a new hobby, read, take classes, meal plan or see more of your family and friends. Seize these extra minutes (and the day!) to master any skill. Not sure what to learn first? Let this handy list help you decide.

3. Make your home office work for you.

The couch is comfortable when you want to relax. But a  separate work space, or ideally a room of your own, will make you more productive. Get a desk, a nice keyboard and mouse and invest in a good webcam and an earpiece to keep echoes at bay. Consider an external monitor, noise-cancelling headphones and an ergonomic desk chair (or even a posture corrector). Your body will thank you. Then order all those addicting office supplies (you know you want to!): notebooks, Post-It Notes and so on, so you have everything you need to be effective.

4. Work smart.

Once you have to get serious and buckle down, treat the time you spend in your home office as working time. Act as you would in a traditional office environment; avoid distractions. One tip? Create the right signals. For instance, put a sign outside your office door so your family knows when you can and can’t be disturbed.

But remember to have a little fun too. Embrace what you normally can’t do when you’re in a regular office: light candles, throw an afternoon dance party or destress for a few minutes and play with your pet or visit with your family.

5. Love the camera.

Pajamas, slippers and a baseball cap may be your uniform of choice, but look professional when it matters. Set up video calls as much as possible. You can gain a lot from and contribute much more to a conversation face-to-face. Seeing and talking with everyone is a good way to have more social interaction (and kick loneliness to the curb), improve communication and deepen relationships. And you won’t be tempted to multitask.

6. Strive to be transparent and high performing.

Make your calendar visible and stay on your colleagues’ radar. In a remote work environment, it’s important to overcommunicate and inject all you write and say with more personality than you normally would so people can truly “see” you. Send and quickly reply to emails and participate as much as possible during meetings. Keep a to-do list and share it regularly with your team so they always know what you’re working on, and your progress. And be sure to set your work hours and tell your team. Having a set start time and end time can help you draw boundaries around your workday. Then once the day is through, mentally leave work behind, either by putting your laptop away or simply shutting your office door.

7. Stay motivated.

When you want to stop procrastinating and get more done, remember to eat the big frog first. Tell yourself to try a dreaded task for just 5 or 10 minutes. You’ll probably  discover the hard part was simply starting, and you’ll more than likely push through until it’s done.

8. Stay connected.

Are you an extrovert who likes to talk on the phone? An introvert who shudders at the thought and would rather a billion pings from messaging software? Tell your coworkers how you like to communicate and keep in close contact with them. And when cabin fever hits, stave it off, if possible, by working elsewhere – at a coffee shop or at a coworking space from time to time. A change in scenery may be all it takes to stoke your creativity and rev up your productivity.

Also, focus on team bonding to build comfort and trust. Our best advice? Take an hour or so each month to hop on a call and have a good time together as a team, without any thought of work. Play games (we like Drawsaurus, Family Feud and Kahoot!, to name a few), try some ice breakers or simply enjoy a virtual happy hour, whatever it takes to find the fun!

9. Blend your work with your life.

Weave together your personal responsibilities  and your work obligations. Color-code your work and personal tasks on your calendar and sync it to your phone so you know at a glance what needs to get done. Block off time for lunch and breaks to stay sharp and productive. Need ideas for your downtime? Step back from your screens and rest your eyes. Cook. Knock out some housework while listening to your music playlist or audiobook. Exercise or catch up with family and friends. If work still calls, hop back on later to wrap up projects or knock out email.

10. Manage up.

In a remote environment, set clear expectations, communicate goals, aspirations and preferences. Keep track of your accomplishments and progress and have the courage to manage your boss, or your boss’s boss to improve your career prospects. Wondering how to go about this? Check out these insightful reads, Manage Your Manager, It’s OK To Manage Your Boss and Suddenly in Charge.

Now that you have these 10 working-from-home tips, you know exactly what our Goodway pros know about working remotely – everything they’ve learned along the way that you can use now to stay happy, healthy and productive, no matter when you’re on the job at home.

Want even more virtual workforce insights? Find all our helpful best practices, webinars and more resources at goodwaygroup.com/remotework/.