According to a series of recent nationwide surveys conducted by Stanford University, a staggering 42 percent of the American workforce is now working from home full time. And the trend shows no sign of abating: what began as a function of coronavirus restrictions now appears to be a new normal, with not only tech giants like Facebook and Twitter announcing some version of permanent work-from-home policies, but more traditional Fortune 100 businesses like Nationwide Insurance jumping on the bandwagon as well.
In short, we’re in the midst of a radical redefinition of the way Americans work, one in which splitting time between home and the office is plausible not only in the immediate future but for the long term as well.
The question then becomes: How can one tackle this new occupational norm most effectively, productively, and healthily? Below, find a collection of our handiest tips, tricks, and devices for doing just that.
Wake Up Right
Without the ticking clock of a looming commute, it’s understandable that one’s morning routine will change with a WFH setup. What’s important is that you don’t abandon your routine entirely — a series of small tasks accomplished in succession is key for setting the productivity tone for your whole day. For your early morning gym rats out there, we’ve got a whole series on how you can keep your a.m. sweat appointment from the comfort of your own home.
Get Dressed. For Real.
Another frequent casualty of working from home: the ensemble. Now, we’re not among those publications who would tell you that “it is imperative that you get dressed exactly like you would for work normally in order to put yourself in the proper mindset.” That’s just silly. However, we do believe that putting together a proper kit of one form or another does have a marked positive effect on one’s mood, even if the said kit is something you would never wear to the office. So take the extra step and consider a matchy sweatsuit. Maybe a tracksuit, even. Hell, we’re not even opposed to a set of fancy pajamas as your WFH attire. The point being that you’re not just throwing something on, you’re getting dressed. You’re making a considered decision regarding your appearance, which helps to put your head in the right place.
Go Out and Come Back
InsideHook’s Los Angeles editor, who was working from home before it was cool/necessary due to a global pandemic, clued us in to a trick years ago that works wonders: before you begin actually working, leave your domicile and return. Doesn’t matter what you do — grab some breakfast, take a stroll around the block, whatever. The goal here is simply to give yourself the feeling of arriving at work. It makes for a nice official start point to your workday and helps productivity right out of the gate.
Have a Proper Setup
Creating a dedicated workspace is key for productivity — while working from bed or the couch might seem pleasant at first, it’s very difficult to maintain focus and stay on task in too lounge-y a setting. If you’ve got the space, we’ve created a handy guide to creating a handsome home office, and we’re also big fans of using WFH as an opportunity to embrace the stand-up desk.
Get Up and Move Around
Among the fringe benefits of working remotely is the ability to periodically physicalize in a way that you normally wouldn’t be able to in an office setting. A little bit of body movement can go a long way in terms of keeping your energy up and staving off feelings of tedium. At a minimum, you can take an afternoon constitutional to get some fresh air and clear your head, but allow us to suggest that you take things a step further and adopt the “50 at 50,” an hourly micro-workout that has become a favorite of several IH staffers.
Keep Your Energy Up
Whether you need a pick-me-up for your next round of push-ups or your next round of expense reports, give the coffee a break and consider upgrading to a can of Monster Energy. Boasting vitamin B-12, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B-6 (in addition to about half the amount of caffeine you’d find in a typical cup of premium coffee shop joe), Monster is an excellent alternative in terms of sustaining your energy and focus throughout the day. No wonder it has quietly become the go-to boost-in-a-can for a legion of high-powered executives as well as top-tier athletes from Tiger Woods to Nyjah Huston.
Don’t Confuse “Present” With “Productive”
From InsideHook’s senior editor Alex Lauer (another staffer who was working remotely long before the pandemic): “When you move to an online workspace where you can’t look around and see your coworkers, it’s easy to become paranoid about accountability. If your office uses Google Chat, Slack, or some other form of instant communication, you may feel the need to respond immediately to every message so your colleagues don’t think you’re lazy. Don’t fall into that trap. Stay focused on essential work, and respond to non-urgent requests and conversations when time allows.”
Know When to Unplug
Similarly, don’t allow yourself to fall into a pattern whereby the fact that you don’t have a physical office to vacate means that you never truly leave the office. Work/life balance becomes tricky when both take place in the same location, so set a hard stop time, communicate it to your team, and stick to it — this is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s important to allow yourself personal time to recharge (and enjoy the fruits of your WFH labor).