For many of us, working remotely is the new norm. Our homes have taken on the role of an all-in-one office space where the physical separation of professional and personal has become virtually nonexistent. And while avoiding a dreaded commute (plus the option of all-day loungewear) sounds appealing in theory, it doesn’t take long to realize the work from home life isn’t all fun and games.
Luckily, many of our IDCO team members have worked remotely for years and consider themselves experts on productivity from just about anywhere. So whether your WFH setup is temporary or long-term, we’re sharing our tried and true methods to not just survive but thrive in a home office environment.
Interior Design and Photography: Park & Oak
Stick to Routines
Shifting from an office to a work from home setting can be a huge adjustment, but sticking to your daily routines is one of the most important ways to help ease the transition. Most of us thrive on consistent structure, so start by setting office hours and really hold to them. Just like in a traditional office setting, your day should have a beginning, middle, and end, with plenty of short breaks intentionally scheduled in between.
Along these same lines, we really believe in the importance of dressing for success. Yes — even when working from home. While loungewear days happen every now and then, we’ve found it’s tough to do our best work when stuck in pajamas. To maintain a sense of normalcy, commit to taking a shower, getting dressed (try a capsule wardrobe for simplicity), and starting your day with a little self-care. You’ll be amazed at how helpful getting ready can be to shift your brain in work mode.
Set up a Dedicated Office Space
Working from the dining room table might work in a pinch, but it’s not feasible for the long haul. Having a dedicated office space is one of the biggest components of a successful WHF life, whether that looks like a spare room, an upstairs loft, a corner nook, or otherwise. If it’s an option, consider choosing a space with the most windows possible. Natural light will help give you a sense of connection to the outside world and makes all the difference in your daily mood.
Interior designers know better than anyone how much our surroundings can impact creativity and productivity, so invest your time and resources towards designing an inspiring work environment. For those of you planning to work from home long-term, consider designing a space where you can also meet with clients or conduct team meetings as needed.
Along with aesthetics, home office organization is an absolute must. You need a clean, clutter-free space (read: no random laundry baskets sitting around), with filing systems in place to organize papers and keep your desk as tidy as possible. At-home organization and productivity go hand-in-hand, so just say no to working from a messy, stressful environment.
Schedule Time Blocks
Many of us around the IDCO studio find it helpful to schedule workdays in time blocks to keep ourselves on track. The idea is to manage how long each task takes to avoid accidentally spending four hours on a task that should have only taken one.
When you’re thinking about time management and processes, take into account your most productive hours of the day. For a lot of people, those hours are first thing in the morning or anytime before noon. Be strategic in using those productive “power hours” to do the most challenging tasks that require total concentration and save emails and admin tasks for later in the day.
Another productivity hack we love is giving each day of the week a theme. Setting up themes gives each workday a clearer sense of purpose, and allows us to break up a giant to-do list into more manageable segments. Lastly, before ending your day, write down the two or three most important tasks you need to accomplish tomorrow. This habit will help you fight the urge to grab your laptop at 10 pm and keep your mind from racing all night long.
We know everyone is hopping on the Zoom call train these days, but that’s definitely not the only way to maintain communication. Through a bit of trial and error, our team has tested out a variety of digital platforms and found some of the best tools for virtual collaboration with no endless video calls required.
As our main point of communication, Slack helps our team stay in close contact without cluttering up each other’s inboxes. Think of Slack as a messaging platform designed for both team and individual chats through personalized channels.
Another productivity platform we utilize is Monday.com. This project management tool is like a virtual office space that allows you to track projects, set deadlines, and collaborate as a team in one spot. We primarily use Monday.com to track our outbound sales campaign. However, we love this program for organizing just about any kind of workflow system. Plus, it’s fully integrated with other platforms you probably use (think Google calendar, Slack and Zoom), and works as an amazing tool for anyone managing a team.
Interior Design and Photography: Studio McGee
Find a Balance
When it comes to working from home, people usually fall within one of two camps. For some, working from home is filled with endless distractions. They find themselves sidetracked with house chores, TV shows, family member interruptions, and one too many snack breaks. On the other end of the spectrum, some take the alone time to the next level by camping out at their computer for eight hours straight. Without colleagues around, they go into desk lock-down mode and forget to stretch, eat, or rest their eyes from the screen throughout the day.
Both of these extremes can be really counterproductive to a successful workday, and the goal is finding a balance somewhere in between. Self-awareness is key, so make sure to find a strategy that takes your work style strengths + weaknesses into account. Above all, remember that working from home does have its perks and don’t stop striving for a healthy work/life balance.
NOTE: We fully recognize that so many working parents balance productivity with minimal childcare. Without consistent childcare in the equation, maintaining perfect schedules and outlined office hours is nearly impossible. The “most productive” work hours often vary day-to-day, and you simply do the best that you can. You’ve got this!