Times have changed rapidly. With the onset of the Covid Pandemic and resulting landscape of working having dramatically changed. More and more companies have adopted a work from home or a hybrid work mode. These usually allow for an employee to remote work and/or working from their office space at their employers building. Some of these remote working jobs are also advertised on Linkedin and other Social Media sites by employers. So it is recommended to keep your profile on these sites up to date. This applies to freelancers as well.
This change in the work environment has many perks that remote employees will love. However, there have also been adjustments needing to be made to ensure that an employee working from home has the right amount of work-life balance, so as not to adversely effect your mental health, emotional and physical well being, home life and personal life.
We have seen in the news, social media and other various outlets some of the mental health issues effecting remote workers, whether themselves, family members or even roommates.
There are quite a few perks with working from home and we would like to review them and provide some tips to help maximize your work day during work hours and your personal life.
Typical Work Day
When remote working, it is so important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Let’s begin by recommending that as a remote employee, you should treat your workday starting in the morning as if you were getting ready to head into your office space. Basically keep your normal morning routine. This seems to get us into a habit and groove as if we were heading into the office space like on a regular workday that we have become used too.
For example, brush your teeth in the morning when you wake up, eat a healthy breakfast and take a shower (if that is in your morning routine vs. end of the day routine). Dress appropriately. We know that there is a tendency to, for lack of better words, hang around in your pajamas while remote working. This obviously would be detrimental if seen on video calls, video conferencing or conference calls by other team members (who whether working from home or their office space). Not a great look for employers trusting their employees working from home. That’s not to say you can’t dress comfortably, it’s actually good to do so. However, follow your employers guidelines for remote working.
Whether you are a full-time employee working from home or a part-time employee working from home, we feel that based off studies done, in order to maintain a healthy personal life and promote mental health keep your normal work time as work time and personal time as personal time.
Remember the next day as a remote employee, or freelancer, you will be tasked with completing your normal workflow. Therefore, maintaining good work-life balance habits like getting a good nights rest will do wonders for your work schedule.
As remote employees working from home, especially as we started at the outset of the pandemic, we tend to find that early routines that we set in place seem to stick that way. So let’s assume that working from home would be like going into your office space and try to keep your workday the same to the extent possible.
Let’s examine some additional work from home tips to maximize your workday while performing remote work.
- Set ground rules when working from home (reduce distractions). Your workspace should be just that.
- Keep in mind the time zone that you are in as some of your team members and/or co-workers may be working from a home office or even in their regular office space which may be on a different time zone than where you are located.
- Create a to-do list every workday morning or at the end of the day for the next day to ensure that you are ready to go
- Try and schedule your breaktimes as if you were in the office. By taking regular breaks you can maximize your workday as any employer would like to see. Besides for cost effectiveness, the pandemic which forced many employers hands to institute a work from home or hybrid policy, your employer is probably telling you that they trust you to get your remote work done under minimal physical supervision.
- Within the purview of breaktimes, we can’t stress the importance of taking a proper lunch break. Besides from stepping away from your workspace as you would in the office, a healthy and fulfilling lunch will give you the fuel to feel comfortable continuing your work day until the end of the day. This is paramount for freelancers as well as many of the items we discuss here are.
- Try and minimize notifications that you may receive on your personal phone, tablet or computer during workday hours. This will reduce slack in your work and we know one of the last things an employer wants to see at the office space is an employee making regular personal phone calls. That being said check in with family members if need be for important items. This may also give you some peace of mind to continue with your workflow unimpeded later.
- Get fresh air. Just like you would at the office space, take regular breaks and make sure to walk around, especially outside for a bit if possible. As any workspace can start to develop a stale feeling, getting the proper amount of fresh air can greatly assist in a good work-life balance. Remember, you will most likely be repeating the same routine the next day.
- Try if possible to let as much natural light into your workspace or when you take your breaktime as sunlight besides for being a good source of Vitamin D can also help improve your mood to maximize your workday.
Dedicated Workspace & Layout of Work Environment
When working from a home office, having a dedicated workspace is imperative. There are going to be distractions which may effect your workflow (TV, friends, family members, roommates and personal phone calls to name a few . Now some people working at home may have set aside a specific area to work in. That is the way to go. For example, you may have your desk set up in your Living Room (although this may lead to distractions in such a high traffic room).
So, how do we layout our workspace when performing remote work from home? There are several items and factors which should be a staple of your home office.
Let’s start with some important pieces of tech equipment and furniture which are paramount to your workday.
Set aside a dedicated workspace (not just the room) but also a desk or table which are used solely for you and your workday.
Get a comfortable ergonomic chair to sit in while at your desk working from home. There are many choices and price ranges to choose from. Even a gaming chair would reduce stress on your back when spending long working hours at home.
Wi-Fi. We can’t stress enough the importance of a good strong stable Wi-Fi system to run all these powerful apps and processes as if you were sitting in your office space at work. With the new Wi-Fi 6 standard (otherwise known as Wi-Fi AX) and Wi-Fi 6e, coupled with a strong internet connection, performing these tasks will be that much easier. We recommend at least 500MB internet plan and would be more inclined to go with at least 1GB of download speeds. Some companies are now even offering home internet plans that can reach speeds of up to 5GB. These high speeds are not offered everywhere yet, and you would also need to have the right home equipment to handle those types of speeds. Again, however we feel that a 1GB is a good sweet spot to achieve your workday needs.
You are going to want a strong stable Wi-FI connection with the speeds we discussed to help ensure that heavy duty processes like Zoom, Video Conferencing, FaceTime are smooth, clear and not choppy.
Most cable companies offer a coaxial mixed with fiber solution to achieve these speeds. If you are going to be uploading high volume large files, you may want to look into a pure Fiber Optic plan that can provide symmetrical download and upload speeds.
Invest in a good router. Your cable or fiber company may have their own modem or modem/router combo, but those are usually dual band and don’t have the specs or the range of a good standalone or mesh router system. We recommend a Tri-Band system which will allow you to make use of the higher and faster channels on the 5Ghz network. This is especially useful if you have a good amount of devices connecting to the internet from your home. You can also hardwire most PC’s, laptops or notebooks with an RJ-45 ethernet cable directly to the router depending on the location of the router or if your home is wired with RJ-45 wall plugs. A wired connection usually provides a more stable, faster internet connection with less interference you may find from neighbors on Wi-Fi channels.
Imagine if you are running a podcast and you want to ensure that your subscribers get a great experience from it, having those Wi-Fi speeds will assist you in running a smooth podcast.
You will need a good PC/Laptop to perform the necessary workflow from your employer. Sometimes your employer may provide these items, however most of the time we have to utilize what we have. There are several great PC’s or Laptops from Microsoft which runs on the Windows platform allowing you to utilize important apps used in a work environment.
For example a good PC will help you run zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams and provide the processing power you will need to run all the software and apps that your company utilizes. We especially like the Microsoft Surface models and there are quite a few to choose from. They come in at different price points reflecting the specs built in. LG also provides a tremendous lineup of PC’s and Laptops/Notebooks which should more than suit your home office needs.
A good powerful tablet which can be used as a tablet or placed in a dock like a PC or laptop may also suit your work from home needs. Check out some of these fantastic Microsoft tablets which may work for you.
Many gaming computers as well can be so powerful to meet your work from home needs. Often, gaming computers which are meant to reduce lag, jitter and throughput when pinging a server may be even more powerful with higher specs than your standard PC.
Get the right monitor for you. We highly recommend the Deco Gear 49″ Curved Ultrawide 5K Monitor. To put it simply a Curved Ultrawide Monitor takes the best of smaller sized curved monitors or curved screens and gives you an assortment of larger screen sizes, better viewing angles allowing a more immersive viewing experience, ergonomic dimensions providing a more comfortable curvature for long using times. The absolutely stunning and large 49” 5k Deco Curved Ultrawide Monitor will suit all your needs. Reduced eye strain is one of our biggest factors when purchasing a monitor and with the R1800 curvature, this one will do just that. And with 120 Hz refresh rate, your video calls will be a breeze as will other processes even gaming.
If you are looking for a more budget friendly option albeit with lower specs we recommend the Deco Gear 29-Inch 2560×1080 100Hz VA Curved Monitor.
Remote workers with all the possible distractions working from home and need for good communication with other employees, it is a worthy investment to get an affordable good pair of ear buds especially when involved in a zoom call or video conferencing. Therefore, we would like to recommend the LG TONE Free HBS-FN5W True Wireless Earbuds. With features like noise reduction, noise isolation, spatial audio, wireless charging case, USB-C fast charging, three sizes of comfortable silicone ear tips and plenty of talk time (up to 5 1/2 hours depending on the existing battery life and sound mode setting) and a case that can provide additional charges through the day.
As we have established, working from home or remote working have many perks and advantages over your typical office space working environment. That being said, we have also detailed the importance of mental health, a good work-life balance and the necessity of keeping a healthy personal life can be challenging with the distractions we sometimes find at home.
When explaining to your family members or roommates the importance of keeping work hours separate from your personal time, and your workspace designated for that purpose alone, you should feel confident about the ever changing times and working from home.