Key Work From Home Tips

Establish a routine. Stay connected. Buy good coffee.

Baker Associates, like many around the world, has transitioned to working from home (WFH) as we all help to #StopTheSpread during COVID-19. We’re sharing the tips given to us by a WFH pro – explained in a personable, no-nonsense manner, with a benefit-led sense of humor.

Are we wearing sweatpants while writing this? Only our pets and families know…

Tips for working at home:

1. Don’t be afraid to put yourself on video for calls.  

I know it feels awkward at first. Do it anyway. It will force you to “get ready” for work which is an important part of mentally transitioning from home to work time. Also, eye contact is important. Let your colleges see you. They need it. Set an example. I know this one feels really weird. Do it anyway.

2. Make a dedicated space away from the bustle of the house that is your work space.  

To be productive, you’ll need a space that is your work spot to signal your brain that you’re not at home. And, as a bonus, when you leave that space, you’re back at home. You don’t want to feel like you’re at work all the time. Having a work space helps you manage that feeling. Don’t relax in your work space. You don’t watch a movie after work in the office. Don’t do it in your work space either. Keep the walls between work and home solid. Your brain will thank you.

3. Get a good set of Bluetooth headphones and a video camera other than your integrated laptop camera.  

Forget the wired headphones. You want to move. You’re going to be on those things all day. And get a good camera that makes you look much better than your cheap laptop one. If you’re going to be on video, don’t let your equipment make you look worse than you already do.

4. Open your curtains or blinds.  

You’re going to be outside less than you’re used to and natural light matters to your health. Get some. It also helps you feel less cooped up.

5. Don’t worry if your dog barks or your kids make a noise now and again.  

We’re all in that boat now. There is not a taboo about being at home and being a slacker for work. You don’t need to hide your world. Introduce people to your dog. Let them join meetings. Pet your dog.

6. Get a legitimate office chair if you can.  

Sitting at the kitchen table in that chair wouldn’t be acceptable to you at work. It shouldn’t be acceptable to you at home, either, if you can help it.

7. Don’t feel like now that you’re not in the office you have to schedule a meeting for every conversation.  

Nothing will kill your productivity faster. Use IM. Pick up the phone. Just do it. Organic office conversation matters. Try your best not to lose it.  

8. It’s really easy to gain weight if you’re not moving around as much.

Bust out that old Fitbit you never wear anymore and track your steps. It will be eye opening. Don’t put snacks in your office just because the kitchen is close and your co-workers won’t take them. Don’t eat all day. Take a lunch hour for fitness and sanity reasons. Use your grill for lunch. It is glorious to get outside for a bit and the food is way better than a sandwich or leftovers.

9. Use a real keyboard, mouse, and monitor.  

Typing on a laptop sucks, and so does using a track-pad. Get a real keyboard and mouse. Plug in a monitor or two if you can as well. Productivity studies are clear on the value of screen real-estate.  

10.  It’s OK to start, or even better end, a meeting with a bit of personal conversation.  

It’s important to maintain human connections. You would have had the “how was your weekend” conversation or told the story of the dumb thing your spouse did by the coffee pot or waiting on a meeting to start anyway. Human beings need that type of interaction. Make it a point to give it to yourself and to give it to your co-workers. It makes a world of difference to your sanity if you talk to people like people and not just about work.

Bonus Tips:

1. ┬áNobody can tell if you’re wearing sweatpants if you put on an adult shirt.

Sweatpants are the best thing ever.  

2.  Make really good coffee.

You don’t have to share with the office now. This is a great time to get yourself an Aeropress.