July 23, 2024
How to succeed in business when you work from home

How to succeed in business when you work from home

Switching from the home-work-home commuting cycle to an environment where your home doubles as your office can be unsettling to many, and it comes with unique challenges as well as benefits. But remote work is here to stay for many employees. Experts predict that 36.2 million Americans — a 417% increase from pre-COVID pandemic levels — will be working remotely by 2025.

In my almost-20-year-long career, I have not worked a day in what is considered to be a traditional office, so almost nothing changed for me in the pandemic. Here’s how you too can work remotely like a pro:

1. Create a productive workspace: Although a corner in my 130 sq. ft. living room doesn’t exactly provide ample space, I make up for it with an organized, focus-enhancing workspace. To get in the zone and stay there, I rely on my ergonomic Herman Miller Embody chair, sit/stand Ikea Bekant work desk, ultrawide LG 34” monitor and a set of noise-cancelling headphones. 

The Embody chair is pricey, but it is great for long typing sessions and adjusts perfectly to my posture while keeping me in-check during video editing. Its adjustable armrests ensure my elbows and hands are always at the most comfortable angle for typing. I can also alter the height of my desk, which allows me to trade sitting for standing and work like that when I need to stretch. I’ve also found that standing during a Zoom call makes me feel more “present,” as if I’m at a live meeting. 

The ultrawide computer screen allows me to run two side-by-side programs without wasting desk space. Another benefit of a large monitor is that it covers most of my line of sight, keeping me free from distractions. Behind my monitor is a boring white wall, so I’m less inclined to let my eyes wander during office hours. Noise-cancelling headphones work great for obvious reasons, but I’ve also realized that I work better when I have some soft music playing in the background. 

If you want to go a step further, you could get a VR headset, turn on Virtual Desktop app and enjoy a distraction-free virtual space. This only makes sense if your headset has a good resolution and high-quality lenses.

Although I own the cheapest keyboard possible, I offset it with one of the most ergonomic mice available – wireless LG MX Master 2S. This little digital rodent has helped me recover from carpal tunnel syndrome and although it’s somewhat outdated (the MX Master 3S is available now), it’s a device I wholeheartedly recommend. I’m no expert in ergonomics, but I definitely work better when I’m not in pain.

2. Establish a routine: A conducitve work environment is one thing; showing up for work is another. Self-discipline and a schedule that you adhere to is paramount. Without anyone looking over your shoulder, it’s easy to fall into temptation of binging on Netflix and YouTube, playing video games and whatever you find more interesting than the task at hand. Every time you succumb to the temptation, you need to realize you’re jeopardizing not just your current project, but also your reputation and in some cases your career. More often than not, a failed task on your end won’t simply be taken over by your colleague, but will instead spill over into a tangible loss for your employer. 

Knowing this, you need to plan. For me, this is fairly simple: I do things the moment they hit my desk. No delays, no procrastination. Just do it, as Nike would put it. This makes my employer extremely happy and relieves me from unnecessary stress that comes with “making sure I don’t forget A or B”.

Sometimes I’m forced to set things aside. In that case, I use a set of reminders in order to stay in the loop. Although many of you would be fine with using an app for notifications, I’ve found out that apps don’t work for me. Instead, I use an old-fashioned notepad file on my desktop that I go to regularly. 

Finally, I end every day with a bit of a treat. Sometimes that’s gaming. Other times it’s drawing. When I’m exhausted, it’s watching my favorite youtubers. This helps me unwind, and keeps me motivated to push on, knowing I’ll have a bit of time to myself when all is said and done. 

3. Communicate effectively: Working online isn’t like being with your colleagues in the same building. In the office, communication is much more visceral, real and current. In an online environment, it’s your responsibility to keep up the flow of information. Your employer needs to be regularly updated on the status of the project and if you have any queries, don’t wait to be asked. In short, make sure you understand the task and that the boss knows you’ve delivered.

4. Maintain your work-life balance: Employers need to respect your boundaries. For example, I work with clients all over the world. This comes with time differences, which is an issue I address first. Needless to say, you will need to be awake at weird hours from time to time, especially during critical delivery stages.

Separating work and personal time is crucial. Although your home and your work environment are the same, install a mental switch that forbids you to think about work after you’ve clocked out. It will be hard, but it’s definitely doable. For me, this comes with engrossing myself in highly enjoyable tasks so I’m less inclined to think about a particular business task. This practice also does wonders for minimizing burnout. 

These principles have worked well for me for many years now, which is why I wholeheartedly recommend them to others. Of course, everyone is different, but some main elements are the same: Take care of yourself and your work and you will succeed — at home or in an office. 

More: Employers shouldn’t be so eager to get workers back to the office.

Plus: When workers are an employer’s No. 1 priority, stockholders benefit too


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