I never thought I’d enjoy working from home as much as I have. I’ve always liked keeping a physical separation between work life and home life and believed that it was important to connect with my coworkers face-to-face. But after these few weeks of being required to work from home, I’ve completely changed my mind. By now I’ve created a routine that works for me and for the team, and I’m actually a bit concerned about having to step back into the office once the world goes back to normal. But finding that routine wasn’t easy.
The first two weeks of WFH were messy. Video calls weren’t grabbing my attention and I couldn’t find my ideal workspace around the house. With time I became more comfortable with conference calls and tested out a bunch of different spots to work from—luckily I’m working from a small laptop that easily moves around with me.
What I really wanted to gain from this experience was to learn how to optimize my time while working remotely. My hope is that if we can apply the lessons we’re being forced to learn about remote work, and promote a routine that works for us, then we’ll be able to have more flexible schedules at work, which will allow us to travel more often. In the end, all I’d like to be doing is traveling more while working hard.
No, I don’t think I was made to be a digital nomad. I’m not looking to hop around from location to location. My intention is to just have a few long weeks every quarter where I’m working from the beach, mountains or a new city. So here are a few tips I’ve observed that are helping me work remotely, which hopefully can help you too. Together, let’s convince our bosses that working out of the office from somewhere completely new can actually make us better employees. So why have I been enjoying working from home so much?
Time for self-care
I think it’s helped me carve out more space for self-care while working. That doesn’t mean that I’m out taking a bubble bath for an hour instead of doing work, it just means that if I need a 5-minute break to help me think clearly, I can take it. In the office, I would never give myself that space. The environment didn’t cater to it and I physically didn’t feel like there was a quiet space where I could just recharge for a few minutes.
Lunch is served
Most days I used to take lunch to the office and heat it up in the microwave or would grab something quick that lacked nutrition. Nothing ever tasted good. Now my lunches are freshly made—not by me because, thankfully, I have a partner who enjoys cooking. But the point is that eating something that’s not out of the microwave is a bonus that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s scientifically proven that food affects mood.
No more commuting
I don’t miss commuting either. And my commutes weren’t even that bad, a 20-minute drive and I was in the office. But the anxiety of arriving at a certain time, the irritation caused by traffic jams, and the annoyance at idle time of the journey have all disappeared. It’s much better to start my morning with a short walk from the bedroom to the living room where I work from instead of rushing out the door to catch the bus or uber. Not to mention I’m saving money on transportation.
It’s okay to move around
One common piece of advice surfing the web about WFH is to set a workspace. I disagree. I’ve been working from 5 different spots at home. I’ll move from the desk to the floor pillow to the armchair and find it quite nice to be able to adapt my environment according to my mood. In the mornings, when there’s a lot of light coming in from the windows, you’ll find me dragging my armchair towards the light. After I’ve finished yoga practice, when my body feels open and strong, you’ll find me sitting on my floor pillow and you might just find me laying on the couch cuddling my laptop on a late Friday evening.
Routine, routine, routine
Working remote might mean you’re not getting the usual social cues from others, like realizing when it’s time to eat lunch. Come up with a routine that works for you and stick to it. Mornings might include a coffee and some light reading or lunchtime might include a workout. If you need an alarm to remind you, do it. Just make sure you’re not getting sucked into your work or into your social feed for that matter.
Hopefully, you’ll start to make your WFH more pleasant and productive and you’ll push your team to make flex work a reality even after we’re done with self-isolation and lockdowns. The world will go back to normal at some point, or least some semblance of normal, and when that happens you should have the freedom to enjoy all the places we’re all currently missing out on. So make the best out of your work routine, learn what tips and tricks keep you motivated and share them with your coworkers. Let’s make remote work the best that it can be and cross paths in the sky when the world opens up again.