Working From Home: Tips and Tricks.

Last updated on August 14th, 2023

April 5th 2020

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  • The main difference between working from the office and working from home is mental rather than physical. Now you can’t easily compare your routine to others anymore and you are closer to temptations.

  • To be efficient working from home, you need to develop double standards for empathy and forgive others more than you forgive yourself.

  • Cut yourself down from all kinds of (negative) news. Dopamine addiction is the biggest productivity killer.

  • Find people who are on your level in terms of career development and actively support each other.

  • In personal development, there is no one-fit-for-all solution. Learn as much as you can about yourself: your body, your mind, your optimal working style.

How Work Has Changed Ever Since the Corona Crisis Broke Out.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, a lot has changed in the world in terms of the labor market and the way we work. Many companies have ceased to function due to the threat of the spread of the virus and many others have been established, more secure when it comes to the risk of infection. 

The latest technologies have been implemented to replace face-to-face work with online meetings. Many companies have implemented automation, and many robots have been implemented on production lines in order to minimize the risk of infection. 

However, the most significant changes have been the increase in online work and the flexibility of work schedules. Our article focuses on these aspects.

The corona crisis stirred the job market and changed the workflow in companies around the world. In these circumstances, businesses are moving online and as professionals, we need to adapt and become efficient remote workers. After the pandemic working from home has become the new standard.

We need to continue our professional development in a new way. According to Resume Builder, 96% of remote companies use employee monitoring software. Therefore, despite working remotely, we need to keep discipline and work to the capacity that we are paid. In this article, we list a few functional strategies for achieving great productivity while working from home.

How Working From Home Differs From Working From the Office.

Firstly, the difference between working from the office and working from home is mental rather than physical. At the end of the day, most of us were used to doing sedentary work and collaborated through emails and other media even before the crisis.

Today, organizing a progress meeting online is not an issue. There are only rare occasions when the productivity at such an online meeting becomes considerably lower than the “traditional” face-to-face gathering. For this reason, while working from home, your working schedule does not need to be much different from working from the office.

We can often be even more productive while working from home since we do not need to commute anymore. This should spare between 30 and 120 minutes per working day. For most people, commuting time is this limbo during the day when you neither work, nor exercise, nor relax.

If you bike to your workplace, you can count this time as physical exercise. But if you walk or commute by public transportation, you won’t get much fitter. Plus, you need to keep your attention on what happens around you on the way which makes it harder to relax. For most people, the lack of necessity to commute is a blessing!

So, why is working from home so hard? Firstly, it is because you lose the mundane, everyday contact with people. Chatting to others  even if it is just casual, counterproductive small talk with a nosy colleague by the coffee machine — is beneficial for our sense of belonging in the long run.

Without these everyday little personal contacts in the workplace, from exchanging smiles in the corridor to birthday greetings and little celebrations, one can slowly descend into depression.

How To Work When You Can’t Compare?

Secondly, it is hard to work from home because you lose the baseline for comparing your behavior and/or performance with other people. Comparing is natural; we subconsciously do it all the time.

For instance, would you be concerned that taking a lunch break for the whole hour is too long and counterproductive? Well, if you notice that all your coworkers take the same lunch break, (as this is a common habit in your workplace) you probably wouldn’t have these concerns. 

When working from home, you can’t watch in real-time what other people on the team are currently doing. It can generate a sense of guilt and an impression that you never really do enough.

Lastly, working from home is hard because, at home, you need to face more temptations than usual. No one is looking at you from behind your shoulders to check whether or not you are working.

The dopamine generators like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, or YouTube are all there, smiling at you from the open tabs in your browser. The fridge full of tasty food is nearby. The sunshine behind the window makes you think that it is a perfect moment to do some gardening or to take a walk in the park. How to think about your professional development?

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How To Deal With Your New Life As an Employee Working From Home?

How do overcome all these issues? Well, there are many solutions you can consider. The obvious ones are, among others:

  • Creating a home office, with a clean desk and a minimal amount of items and distractors around,
  • Experimenting with various working schedules,
  • Make sure that your working – and sleeping hours are regular,
  • Eating well,
  • Exercising regularly (by the way, in times of the corona crisis, there are lots of good free online training programs such as Natalia Vtuyrina’s stretching class),
  • Starting with the preparation of a detailed list of tasks for each day.

But, there are also more non-obvious (mental) tricks that are equally important. Sticking to these rules can make a difference between descending into a feeling of imprisonment and apathy, and a true blast while working from home.

1. Spare Mercy For Others.

People who can successfully carry on with working in isolation usually have double standards for empathy. It sounds counterintuitive. However, to stay in command of your life while working from home, you need to treat yourself worse than you would normally treat other people.

Namely, what happens if you are not hard on yourself, and you let yourself rest every time it feels right? In such cases, your mind will soon create more and more reasons to complain and to take breaks. 

Therefore, in situations when you would recommend someone who works for you (or your student) to rest — as they feel tired, dizzy, demotivated, or ill — you need to tell yourself to shut up and continue working instead. Think of the goals you are about to achieve

2. Forgive Yourself.

At the same time, you need to be able to forgive yourself. Working from home is like keeping a diet. If you happen to break your own rules and cheat one day, you need to put yourself together as fast as possible and come back to the diet routine on the very next day. Rather than dropping the diet completely or promising yourself that you will get back on the diet after “just one more cheat day.”

3. No News.

According to research, visual and auditory overstimulation leads to brain damage and massive loss in productivity. Therefore, while working from home, you should discipline yourself to keep informational diet or otherwise, you are more vulnerable to depression and other mental problems.

You can catch yourself looking into the mirror more often and searching for the first wrinkles, thinking about passing time or the meaning of life way more often than before. Therefore, it is important to be selective about the information that you let into your head.

Plus, to avoid putting any seeds of negative thoughts in your mind. Avoiding the daily news is, in general, a good strategy as TV news is usually a compilation of catastrophes, deaths, quarrels in the parliament, and potential threats.

Plus, people who achieved something – from politicians to artists, to entrepreneurs – are usually pictured in a bad light in the media. They are either shown as greedy, empty inside, sociopathic, or stupid.

How can you get anywhere with your career if you are conditioned to think that all successful people are evil? Let your family and friends filter the information for you! If important events are going on in the world, they will call you and tell you about them.

Not to mention that media creates dopamine addiction. You load your working memory with snippets of information which gives you little rewards and clutters your mind. You are not productive anymore.

Do you still feel like you need to check the evening news? Well, do it once a day, rather than once an hour or once every five minutes. Your productivity as well as the overall level of happiness will instantly increase. It will have a positive impact on thinking about your personal development too.

4. Create a Mastermind Group.

Today, self-pacing productivity techniques such as pomodoro or time-boxing make an international career.

However, research proves that accountability is the key to productivity. Therefore, it’s worth creating a mastermind group. Join forces with other remote workers and motivate each other by becoming each other’s fellow-sufferers and pace makers!

You could, for example, invite a few friends to your mastermind group and organize a debriefing online via Zoom and share your experiences, little achievements, and bottlenecks at the end of each working day, or once per week. Just contact 2-4 other people who also work from home and who are at similar career stages as you. 

These people do not necessarily need to be your closest coworkers. It’s more than enough if they should wish you well, have a similar type of job, and be highly motivated. 

It is good to have pacemakers and induce a bit of friendly peer pressure. Therefore, it is advisable to check in online regularly, (for example, once a week) monitor the progress, and brainstorm in a group.

You could also make use of the established online communities and services pairing remote workers as sparing partners or self-help groups such as LaunchPass or FocusMate.

You might also be interested in visiting a nearby co-working space, such as WeWork. Co-working spaces slowly become the norm, not only among freelancers and contractors but also, employees. 

Today, managers test new solutions to manage remote employees by providing them with a professional workspace and a sense of community. The benefits of co-working spaces, such as increased productivity and collaboration, suggest that companies should consider using them as a solution to manage their remote workforce.

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5. You.

Working from home is a test for multiple relationships. Are your friends going to make an active effort to reach out to you and talk to you online? Are your coworkers going to stick to the deadlines and help you in completing projects in time once you don’t have face-to-face contact anymore?

Once you start working from home, your perception of multiple relationships with other people might change for good. You will be positively surprised about some of them, while others might heavily disappoint you.

But, one relationship is put under a particularly hard test in this situation. It is your relationship with yourself.

  • Do you even love yourself and accept yourself a person?
  • Do you wish all the best for yourself?
  • Are you assertive?
  • Do you believe in yourself? Or, rather, do you self-sabotage? 
  • When you look into the mirror in the morning, do you have a strong feeling that you want to help this person to work on her professional development and go forward in life?
  • Do you need thumbs up from your boss every day to feel good? Or, do you do what you do because you genuinely feel that this is the best way of spending your time for your personal and professional development?

Many people believe that the key to effectively working from home is to create a system of little rewards and please yourself after completing every chunk of work.

However, if you need to reward yourself for working, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself a few questions about the project you are now working on:

  • Do you have a plan for the project?
  • Is your project divided into manageable chunks?
  • Does this project fit into your long-term career plans?

Then, making the next step on your career path should be a reward in itself.

6. Build Knowledge About Yourself.

How well do you know yourself? Experimenting on yourself to find out your optimal working style is necessary to find the optimal balance.

For instance, sometimes, less is more: less work but performed in your most productive time slot during the day does miracles to your overall work results. To learn more about chronotypes and their impact on your productivity, please check our article “Dizzy At Work? Work According To Your Chronotype!

As a rule of thumb, it is also a good idea to engage your intuitive mind and your subconsciousness to boost your productivity and find more joy at work. Of course, some individuals are more receptive to hypnotic states and subliminal persuasion than others, but you can only learn this about yourself by trying.

For instance, you might be inclined to try energizing meditations and subliminal affirmations published on the channel Minds in Unison on YouTube. Some of these affirmations might even reprogram your mind and make you more energized and productive while you sleep!

Lastly, to be effective working from home, you need to… leave home from time to time. Your body needs blood circulation, fresh air, and natural light. Working from a co-working space or a library might also be refreshing, regardless of how comfy your home office is.

Do You Practice Working From Home?

So, if you want good for yourself and if you have a plan including your professional development, it will not matter anymore if there is sunshine or thunderstorm behind the window. 

Or, if you receive feedback for your work, or whether or not other people help you with your projects. You will just sit down, open your laptop, and proceed with your journey no matter what. One step at a time. Day by day. Always forward to your professional success. 

So, as egocentric as this sounds, it is advisable to smile to yourself in the morning. Bring back a few warm thoughts about what you like in yourself, and why you wish yourself the best.

Conclusion: Is Working From Home Hard?

Is remote work all that good for us after all? In her fascinating Nobel-prize awarded work “Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms,” Elinor Ostrom writes:

“Face-to-face communication in a public good game – as well as in other types of social dilemmas – produces substantial increases in cooperation that are sustained across all periods including the last period. 

The strong effect of communication is not consistent with currently accepted theory, because verbal agreements in these experiments are not enforced. Thus, communication is only “cheap talk” and makes no difference in predicted out- comes in social dilemmas. 

But instead of using this opportunity to fool others into cooperating, subjects use the time to discuss the optimal joint strategy, to extract promises from one another, and to give verbal tongue-lashings when aggregate contributions fall below promised levels. 

Interestingly, when communication is implemented by allowing subjects to signal promises to cooperate through their computer terminals, much less cooperation occurs than in experiments allowing face-to-face communication. 

The finding that face-to-face communication is more efficacious than computerized signaling is probably due to the richer language structure available and the added intrinsic costs involved in hearing the intonation and seeing the body language of those who are genuinely angry at free riders.”

What’s the conclusion?

Well, it seems that communicating face to face at work has some added value over remote work as it evokes natural human empathy and leads to more utilitarian, cooperative behavior in the group – subverting the expectations coming from the game theory.

And yet, in daily life, we often have no choice but to adhere to the current standards and opportunities in the job market, that often involve remote work. What can ewer do for ourselves in these suboptimal circumstances?

Some of the aforementioned pieces of advice might sound trivial. However, especially for people graduating from universities, this might be hard. Students are expected to accept a great load of inconvenience and hardship in their academic training process and be proud that sweat, blood, and tears (might) serve humanity. Whereas at the end of the day, self-love is the only way to keep yourself going regardless of the circumstances.

Please also use a list of practical tips for working from home in our articles “Top 13 Productivity Tips For Remote Workers” and “Top 11 Rules For Productivity In The Office. How To Become The Top Performer As a White Collar Employee.

You can find more information on how to build and maintain the trust when it comes to remote work in the book “Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere” by prof. Tsedal Neeley.

If you know of any other highly effective strategies, please drop your comments below. Good luck with working from your home office including working on your professional development.

Are you interested in remote jobs? Please find 25 companies currently hiring for 100% remote roles here.

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Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. (2020, April 4th). Working from Home: Tips and Tricks. Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/working-from-home-tips-and-tricks/

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