With remote work, employees no longer need to commute each day, have more time for personal activities or to arrange medical appointments, and can focus better, etc. On paper, everything seems great. Yet, in reality, it’s not always easy peasy. Without some tips for working from home, some team members can struggle to embrace the benefits of being off-site.
Your goal is to help them create an environment that enhances digital collaboration, high performance, and professional well-being. Basic recommendations often include dedicating a specific space for job-related tasks or following your peak productivity hours, for example. We have tried to dig a bit deeper and find the most effective tactics.
Here are 21 WFH tips for HR and team managers to share with their staff! From working methods to workspace design and cognitive approaches, we explore the best practices to work stress-free and efficientlyfrom home.
1. Set up a dedicated workspace
The first rule when you work remotely (if you have enough space to do so) is to dedicate one area of your home to this activity. This is a place where you only sit for work-related tasks and nothing else. Similar to having a kitchen for cooking, a bedroom for sleeping, and a living room for chilling, you need a home office space for working. This helps your brain switch to work mode and keep good mental health by putting a barrier between your professional and personal lives.
2. Create a distraction-free environment
Like being in the office, you have to establish strategies to prevent anyone or anything from bothering you when you work from home. For example, if you don’t need your phone for your job, leave it in another room. This way, you are less tempted to check the last WhatsApp notification or the Reel from your friend that is going viral on Instagram. Also, let your colleagues know when you’re on a high-focused task and don’t want to be disturbed by indicating it on Slack or on your shared calendar, for instance.
3. Establish a morning routine
Have you heard about the power of developing good habits? If not, we highly recommend you read the books Atomic Habits by James Clear or The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg. Habits, both good and bad, are so integrated into our lives that we do them without realizing it. One that would be beneficial for anyone working from home is to implement a morning routine. When you are going on-site every day, you set your alarm, do a bit of stretching or go for a run, have a shower, get a nice breakfast… Whatever works for you and makes you feel great to start the day in optimal conditions. Stick to it, and you will see the power of habits before you know it!
4. Use the time-block scheduling method or any other time management technique that works for you
Having a work structure at home is sometimes more challenging. But, organization and prioritization are key. To help you work efficiently and effectively, many time management techniques exist. For instance, the Pomodoro and the time-block scheduling methods are pretty famous ones. Time-block schedules are great for people that procrastinate, those who struggle to motivate themselves, or those who just want to gain productivity. It gives you structure and enables you to tick the boxes on your to-do list.
5. Don’t underestimate the impact of your workspace setup and design
Have you ever wondered if your WFH setup could have an impact on your work? The answer is yes. In the office, our environment significantly affects how we feel and perform. Cleanliness and tidiness help with focus and creativity. Natural lighting and plants improve mental health. Ergonomic furniture prevents pain and injuries. These are just a few examples of the importance of office design. Try to consider this aspect when you choose and decorate your dedicated workspace at home.
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6. Don’t undervalue the power of breaks
Have a coffee, go for a walk, stretch for a few minutes… Do what you want but don’t forget to take breaks when operating from home. Working continuously is counterproductive. For years, scientists and experts have stressed the necessity of pauses, as highlighted by this article from BetterUp on the importance of taking breaks during the work day. Moreover, working remotely implies longer exposure to screens and, consequently, blue light. This can seriously affect our vision and the health of our eyes. For example, when looking at a screen, we tend to blink less often, so our eyes get drier. When you take a few minutes off, you are doing it for yourself and for your eyes.
7. Practice physical activity often
The most claimed advantage of flexible work is its positive impact on employees’ work-life balance. Use the time you would have wasted commuting to do some sport. It is excellent for your health (physical and mental) and enables your brain to focus better. You, therefore, are more productive. Practicing physical activity with people is great to add a pinch of social interaction to your day! It can be going to the fitness studio or playing soccer, for example!
8. Watch out for loneliness
When working remotely more often, our social interactions decrease. Yet, these moments are crucial to keeping us mentally healthy and also switching off from work. Try to maintain as many social activities as you can by doing collective sport, participating in a painting course, or volunteering for a cause in your neighborhood, for instance. But be careful not to isolate yourself.
9. Go outside, breathe some fresh air, and get some vitamin C
With an office-based job, we are forced to go out, at least to commute. However, if you work from home, you can easily spend the whole day indoors without putting a foot outside. This is neither good for our physical nor our mental health. Breathing some fresh air is great to recharge. If you have the chance to live somewhere with nature around, the impact of nature is scientifically proven to boost our health in general. Another positive point, you get your shot of vitamin C, even if it’s cloudy! You can read this article from the Yale School of Environment to learn more about how immersion in nature benefits our health.
10. Draw a line between your professional and personal lives
When switching to hybrid work, the major goal for employees is to reach a better work-life balance. Yet, the opposite can easily happen too. Therefore, drawing a clear line between your professional and private activities right from the beginning is crucial. Creating a time-block schedule, as mentioned above, can help you do so, but you can also find your own way. The most important thing is that working from home doesn’t take extra time out of your day at the expense of your personal time (ex: commuting).
11. Follow your peak productivity time but don’t overwork
We all have moments when we are more focused and efficient. These periods are called peak productivity hours. With flexitime, you can make the most of this part of the day. Most people’s peak productivity is in the morning. If this is how you function, why not start a bit earlier? It doesn’t mean you work longer. You just finish sooner while getting more things done because you work at the right time of day. However, determine a non-negotiable ending time, especially if you tend to work extra hours when you’re in a flow. It’s good from time to time to boost a project, but not every day.
12. Take a lunch break and have a light and healthy meal
We are sometimes so focused on our tasks that we don’t realize hours are flying. While in the office, at least you see your colleagues stopping for lunch. But at home, there is nobody, and nothing, to remind you that it’s time to eat. Yet, it’s super important to recharge your energy levels and reset physically as well as mentally. If you don’t have much time to cook during the day, do some batch cooking on the weekends or in the evenings to have some healthy meals ready. Also, don’t eat heavy food. It will make you sleepy, and end up lying on the couch without realizing it (talking from experience!).
13. Make ground rules for family members
When you live alone, except for the delivery man, there is a low chance you will get disturbed by somebody requesting your attention. However, when you share your apartment with other people (family members, flatmates, etc.), you can easily be distracted by their presence. When you switch to work mode, let everybody know and be strict about it. You can even put a sign on the door of your workspace if you have one.
14. Set ground rules for yourself
You know yourself better than anyone. If you already tend to overwork in the office, this is likely to happen at home as well. The same goes the other way around. If you are someone who gets easily sidetracked, creating a distraction-free workspace is a must. While setting clear rules for the people you live with is essential, you must be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and establish policies for yourself too.
15. Use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones
Working with earplugs or noise-canceling headphones is a life changer. This isn’t only a hack for home-office employees. However, it’s not always possible in the physical workplace when you need to interact with colleagues in person. You might wonder, “Why would I put earplugs on if I’m alone at home and nobody can distract me?” Environmental noise, also called “noise pollution”, is all those unnatural sounds created by human activity, like road construction or people talking in the street, for example. Not only does it affect our health, but it impacts our ability to focus too.
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16. Team up with technology to work better
Working from home implies using technology even more than when you are in the office. You basically rely on tech to perform your job and maintain a relationship with your colleagues. Consequently, it is crucial that you make the best use of hybrid workplace technology. This means using collaboration tools, project management solutions, desk booking software, and so on. Also, get training to learn how to implement artificial intelligence in your daily job. Using AI in the workplace (physical and digital) is a great support to optimize your tasks, gain efficiency, smoothen your workflow, and much more.
17. Adopt remote communication best practices
When embracing the world of flexible work, many things change. Implementing and using communication guidelines is essential to work in the best conditions, whether on-site or at home. We’ve shared the remote work communication best practices every hybrid team should follow. They help make collaboration smooth, foster team bonding, and boost engagement.
18. Stay connected with the rest of your team
After a while of working remotely, you might feel you’re losing “workplace connection”. To avoid this, we recommend you participate in online team bonding activities, plan a digital coffee with colleagues, and other events that help keep this bond with your coworkers. You can even invite your teammates to meet “after work” if they live in the same city as you! It’s not because you don’t go to the office that you can’t see each other in person outside our work.
19. Speak up and share feedback with your manager
Be transparent regarding any issue you might encounter when working from home. It can be related to not having the right resources to work as efficiently as in the office or struggling with something more psychological, like finding motivation, for example. Sharing your feelings and difficulties is always a good thing. It enables managers to see where improvement is needed and allows them to raise the problem to come up with a solution. You never know, your colleagues might have the same issues but don’t talk about it.
20. Discuss and share the best WFH tips with your colleagues
We’ve gathered the basic and most efficient tips to work from home, but you might come up with something great that works for you, and we haven’t thought about it! As we say, “sharing is caring!” So why not give your personal WFH hacks to your colleagues? You can plan an event to discuss what works best for you or create a specific Slack channel dedicated to this topic, for example.
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21. End the day with a shutdown ritual
Similar to creating a morning routine that enables you to start the day on the right foot, you should also finish it with a shutdown ritual. We are not going to dive into detailed neuroscience explanations, but ending work identically every day indicates to the brain it is the moment to swap from work to free time mode. It can be walking your dog, making a cup of tea and listening to music on your terrace, or going for a run… Whatever you like!
We hope this list of tips for working from home helps your hybrid workforce embrace the home office experience at its best! While some of the recommendations might sound obvious, it doesn’t mean they are applied. So it’s always a good reminder to try to adopt better practices. One of our favorite WFH tips is the idea of organizing meetings to discuss with other team members what works for them. First, it is an opportunity to share a moment together and bond. Second, talking and getting advice from people that do the same job as you is more relevant. Third, giving some time to your staff to find ways to improve their daily professional lives is great proof of employee centricity. In an era when well-being matters more than ever, it will undoubtedly be appreciated by all!
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Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.