Five Tips Written From Home
Many people, particularly those in more technical disciplines, often dream of the freedom of working from home and being judged simply on their code and measured by remote code reviews.
However, a greater degree of personal freedom requires a greater deal of accountability and responsibility if life is not to regress to a unproductive and possibly destructive experience.
Where I have referenced studies, I’ve used papers that are available publicly and without subscription.
1. Dress To Impress
The way you present yourself is really important, even on video calls. We need to make a positive impression, which will bolster our self-confidence and therefore our productivity at work.
This isn’t to say you need to be in a full suit at home, and of course uncertainty for those video calls can even call anxiety, but clearly you need to be neat, clean and pressed while avoiding offensiveness, tasteless, revealing or sloppy clothes.
Now it is more than giving a good first impression (and yes, this is a real thing) on a video call.
This is about if you dress in a formal way, this can positivity impact your abstract processing.
This bears repeating. How you dress changes how you think. This decision is not about you wearing sweatpants at home and it doesn’t matter because people can’t see it. It is about the clothing you wear and the changes on your self perception away from other people.
2. Setup Your Home Setup
The NHS in the UK have advice about how to set up your office.
Adjusting your chair to make sure that your keyboard is in a position that allows your wrists and forearms to be horizontal with the floor if vital for not just your physical health but your productivity.
Sitting on the sofa while working? Your posture matters.
I know that some workplaces do not have multi-monitor setups (I’ve kept finding work with such companies, unfortunately) however if you can control your work environment (and at home you can) you should definitely have a multi-screen setup. Even if it costs you a little bit of money to get the technology, your productivity will thank you.
I would have thought that most people understand that exercise boosts health and productivity.
Exercise and time away from a screen has benefits. I mean if you want to practice Tai Chi to get psychological benefits I think the evidence is clear. Do also bear in mind that fitness may be linked to problem solving (warning: in Primates) and you start to build up a case that getting on your bike and taking a break might really make sense.
Why not do it now?
4. Beware of Social Isolation
Much of the talk in early 2020 is around social distancing, that is keeping 2 meters (6 feet) from fother people.
This does not mean that we can be socially and emotionally isolated from other people for an extended amount of time.
There are articles that glibly mention how easy it is to pick up the phone to loved ones around the world. What isn’t mentioned is that having fun at work with collegues refreshes you even in high-stress occupations. When we lack this social interaction, our work suffers.
5. Take Breaks
Much is made of work environments where people work from early in the morning to late at night. You might want to commit your code at those times to *prove* how hard you are working.
This should not be the goal. Productivity should be.
But one thing is for certain. Breaks are good for you, your work and your employer. Don’t you want to work smarter if you are a knowledge worker?
Transitioning to working from home, or doing so for a long period, is very much a personal experience. The quality of your work and and depends on your circumstances and personality.
Like any workplace you need to work with your employer to make sure you are comfortable and stay well. This may be tricky because although some corporations allow you to buy equipment for use at home, in other cases you may need to pay to upgrade your working environment to be suitable to maximise your health and productivity.
You may need to consider how you behave and what you want to achieve — but one thing is for certain.
Working from home is different than working in an office, and you should work get the best out of any situation you find yourself in — your colleagues and career will thank you.
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