Working From Home in 2020

At first glance, working from home seems like the holy grail of perks. Roll out of bed and you’re ready to go–better yet, just prop yourself up on some pillows and open your laptop! No commute? No problem! Your home is your castle, and you reign supreme. Rustle up some breakfast and pour a perfect cup of joe. Flick on your favorite reality show, radio station, or broadcast channel as background, put your feet up, and get to work. Easy, right?

Then a few days go by, and all of a sudden you’re falling apart. You got less done today than you did yesterday, even though you promised yourself you’d be more focused! The thing is, our surroundings play a big role in how productive we are. We’re used to home as a place to relax and unwind, instead of grind and shine. So, if you’re going to give working from home an honest go, you need a plan and you need the right tools. In this article, we’re going to show you a few ways to stay productive at your job while still enjoying the perks of not having to travel to an office.

Don’t Work Where You Eat

You don’t have to upgrade to a two-bedroom apartment, but you do need to separate your working space from your living space. The key is to ‘build’ a physical space that will be your home office, and your mental and emotional association to this nook as your dedicated workspace will follow. Again, this doesn’t need to be a whole room, just a place where your mind and body are in work mode whenever you are there. If you have a separate room, great. If not, a desk or a laptop station with dual monitor at the end of your table will suffice. The key is that you only utilize this place for work, and not for anything else. That way, you can start to build the association in your mind.

Stick to a Routine When Working From Home

Do your best to establish a morning routine that your body and mind can get used to. Skipping the shower and staying in your pajamas might sound nice–even time-saving–but in reality, it’s neither. Even though these things might not seem necessary when you’re working from home, they are just as important as ever. To be productive at home, it’s important to get yourself into “work mode” so that your subconscious is on your side. So jump in the shower, brush your teeth, and put on some slacks before you get to work. Even if you don’t wear shoes in your house, it’s worth putting on a clean pair. 

Also, you should try to get some outdoor time once a day. Take a walk, get some coffee. Better yet – call a friend or family member to catch up while you’re out. Even if you don’t usually go out for lunch, perhaps you should start. It will help build variety into your workday and that will help keep you sane and sharp. As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

Avoid distractions like mindless scrolling through social media, but connect with your friends and colleagues to keep yourself connected and avoid feelings of isolation. Slack, Facebook Messenger (the standalone app/webapp, not the one embedded in Facebook!), and text messaging are a few good tools for this. Try to minimize your time on platforms with “posts” or “timelines,” such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn.

Most importantly – try to end work at the same time each day. Obviously, there will be times when a late deadline or project needs after-hours attention. But in most situations, a 10PM work email can wait until the following morning for a response.

Your Mind Follows Your Body

Build an exercise routine into your day to clear your mind and rejuvenate your body. If you can’t make it to the gym, there are plenty of great exercises you can do at home with little or no equipment. If you need inspiration, there are thousands of exercise videos on YouTube to choose from, with a wide variety of instructors and styles. Pick one (or several) that work for you, play them on your laptop – or better yet, your TV – and follow along. It’s like having your own private workout class for free! 

While you don’t need any equipment to get your sweat on at home, it might be worth considering a few affordable basics, if you don’t own them already. A yoga mat is perhaps the most versatile, inexpensive, and useful for most people and most kinds of workouts. Exercise balls, stretch bands, and free-weights are a few other options to consider

It’s worth noting, this is not a replacement for outdoor time. Even if it’s just a walk down the street, it’s important to go outside at least once a day to keep yourself from going stir crazy. 

Get the Tools You Need

You’ll get a lot of advice about investing in various work tools, such as a standing desk or a separate work computer. If you have the resources to do this and think it will help you (and better still, if your company will reimburse you for these expenses), go for it. If your company is requiring you to work remotely, find out what tools they’ll provide and what they’ll pay for.

In addition to the noise-canceling headphones, the only must-haves for my own WFH setup are a decent Wi-Fi connection, a computer that meets my needs (this will vary greatly depending on your job), and a reliable cell phone. But if you end up working from home long term, you’ll figure out what you need and what you can afford. 

Now, if you work in Sales, Customer Service, Recruiting, or any other industry where you’re speaking with dozens of people every day, you’re going to want some software to facilitate and keep track of all these interactions. It’s hard enough to stay organized in the office. Now that you’re mixing your home and office it’s not going to get any easier. The good news is, technology is here to help. The number one organizational tool you’re going to want is a cloud-based CRM. There are lots of CRMs out there, but if you’re looking for two that are intuitive to use, HubSpot (there is a lifetime free version) and Pipedrive are good bets. In HubSpot and Pipedrive CRM, you will be able to keep all your customer information in one place, and share it in real-time with the rest of your team. Contact information, deal information, emails, notes, even phone call recordings will be stored and organized in HubSpot and Pipedrive. You can even connect your Gmail or Outlook to use email templates, track emails, and send out bulk email blasts. You and your team will be able to see each other’s interactions with contacts in your CRM, so you don’t step on any toes or annoy any customers.

Speaking of team communication, you’re going to need an avenue for direct communication as well. Slack is great for this. If you haven’t heard of it already, Slack is a group messaging app for businesses. You can create separate channels for different topics or subgroups, send direct messages, and even do group video chats or screen shares.

If you also want the ability to video chat or screen share with people outside of your organization, Zoom is an excellent solution. You can host a virtual meeting and invite others just by sending them a short link.  The best part is, you don’t need a Zoom account to join a meeting–just to host one. This means you’ll never have to wait around while the other party downloads and signs up for a service, or hand hold them through the process. 

Lastly, you’re going to want a phone and SMS solution that integrates with the rest of your software arsenal and will still work with a slow internet connection. Kixie is great for this because not only does it integrate really well with HubSpot and Slack, it can piggyback off of your cell phone if your internet is too slow to support a call. And unlike a cell phone or landline, Kixie tracks and records your calls and text messages, and pushes all that information into HubSpot, where it is stored on the appropriate contact page. So now, instead of manually taking notes and logging calls, your phone is doing it for you automatically. Also, it’s easy to learn how to work from home using Kixie, and signing up for a trial is free. (You won’t even be asked for a credit card, so there’s no risk you’ll forget to cancel and get charged. Phew!) 

Most importantly, however you decide to work from home, remember to keep your body and mind healthy. Exercise. Go outside. Take care of your loved ones. Do something kind for a stranger.

Good luck, and godspeed! 

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