Going Permanently Remote? Remember to Prioritize These 5 Things

remote work during covid graphic
Img credit: https://geekbot.com/blog/transition-to-remote-working-during-the-outbreak/

At a time when millions of people are still working from home due to COVID, this topic may seem like it’s 12 months past the “best by” date, but hear me out. I think by now a lot of people are realizing that they are in a position to continue their careers working entirely from home, so I thought I’d share a few recommendations as someone who has worked from home for several years and plans to do so indefinitely (turns out the hermit life suits me). Let me know if you relate to these, or if you have other important tips!

My top 5 recommendations for things to prioritize are:

  1. Define Your Workspace
  2. Invest In Your Office Setup
  3. Stay Healthy
  4. Turn Your Webcam On!
  5. Seek Out In-Person Social Interaction Outside of Work

(this is the TL;DR – read more about each below)

These are critical things to focus on when transitioning to full-time remote work. It’s a big adjustment, but more and more people are doing it successfully every day. You can, too! I have SO many more recommendations for remote workers, but I wanted to stop at 5 or I’d be typing a novel for you and I actually want you to read these because I think they’re really important.

1. Define Your Workspace

Don’t work in bed, or at the kitchen table, or from your recliner in front of the TV. Dedicate a space for work-only activities, and spend leisure time outside of that space. This will help draw the line between being “at work” and “off the clock” which is critical for a good work-life balance. Make sure that anyone who shares this space with you knows to respect the boundaries of this work space (and time).

2. Invest In Your Office Setup

I highly recommend spending the money (earlier rather than later) for a high quality set of over-ear headphones, a microphone, webcam, desk, office chair, and whatever else you are missing.

Don’t wait several more years to buy a nice chair or mic. You will regret not doing so earlier once you finally do, and your team will appreciate the improved quality of your setup as well (audio quality, video quality, etc). It will make working more enjoyable, and you will look and sound more professional as well.

Remember that these are some of the best hours of the best days of the best years of your life that you are spending at work, and it’s okay to spend money on making your workspace more comfortable and productive. You might even be able to get your company to fund the improvements, but even if you can’t, it’s a worthwhile investment in yourself.

3. Stay Healthy

Focus on Ergonomics and Exercise.

Ergonomics is critical. Try different chairs out until you get one that fits you and promotes good posture. Your keyboard and mouse/track pad setup is also critical to avoid tendonitis/carpal tunnel. I recommend a split keyboard and alternating between a handshake style mouse and a track pad. Whatever you do, just avoid the same small movements over and over again or you will wear your hands out and may cause problems that you need physical therapy to address. Keep your wrists and back straight, and you’ll avoid a lot of discomfort down the road. Your monitor(s) should be directly in front of you, and preferably the centers should be a 10-15 degree drop from your eyes so you are not leaning back or leaning forward to look at the screen (this will kill the muscles in your shoulders, neck, head and eyes and probably lead to headaches).

Exercise! I won’t pretend to be a fitness guru, but I do know that you can’t just stay inside at your desk for the rest of your life. Your body will fail you if you don’t take care of it properly. Remember that by working from home you’re losing a ton of movement that used to be a normal part of your day, like walking to your car and walking around an office. If you can, get out and take a walk once per day, you will feel 10x better if you do. This improves mental health (and job performance, too). There are so many reasons to always be working towards better fitness, so don’t lose sight of this.

4. Turn your webcam ON as much as possible

This may just be personal preference, but I really don’t like it when people always leave their camera off during video calls. I want to see that you are paying attention to what the group is talking about, and not off in the corner playing on your phone or watching Netflix. Put a clean shirt on and turn your camera on so you can connect with your teammates! This is critical for good communication, even when remote. You may not think anybody cares, but your manager has probably noticed (especially if their camera is always on and yours isn’t). Don’t let this hold you back. You may just find yourself enjoying the higher quality communication with your colleagues when they can see your face and body language again.

5. Seek out in-person social interaction outside of work

Remember to keep your in-person social skills sharp or you might just forget how to say hello to other humans! Just like how your office job used to help you stay more active, it also helped keep your social skills sharp. Now that you’re remote, you need to be intentional about seeking out social interaction (especially during COVID). This is important for mental health as well as a practical career skill that will help you communicate and even get you your next job. Don’t neglect it!

Like I said above, I could write a novel about working from home as an independent contractor and a full-time employee, but I’ll stop this post at just 5 things to prioritize. I’d love to engage you in conversation and hear your tips in the comments!

Some more great tips for WFH:

Image Credit: https://geekbot.com/