Ultimate Guide to Working From Home
The essential tips, tricks, and life hacks
By the end of this article, you should be able to say, “Got 99 problems, but working from home ain’t
one of them.”
It’s safe to say that a few short weeks ago, you’d never heard the terms ‘physical distancing’ or
‘social distancing’. But they’re now used on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, as we continue working
together to contain the COVID-19 global pandemic. The rhythm of our ‘usual’ routine and lifestyle
has been flipped on its head, as we strive to sync with government changes and ensure we live a
safe and virus-free life.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, an increasing number of organizations are taking the advice of government health bodies and sending their employees home to work remotely. In a bid to #flattenthecurve, this reduces daily interactions and face-to-face contact with others. With the risk
of exposure and threat of infection, it makes sense to ditch the daily commute and switch 9-5 shifts
from the office to the comfort of your own home. Combining your new place of work with your
shared home space and your personal space is not necessarily as straightforward as planting a desk
in a room and hoping for the best.
Challenges creep in. With tantalizing distractions and unlimited freedom, with no or few immediate
consequences, it can be all too easy to glance up at the television and suddenly find that an hour has
passed. A lack of motivation and a wave of bad habits can quickly set in place, concrete-like.
Okay, so here’s the good news; there are some simple hacks you can add to your work-from-home
schedule to ensure you remain in tip-top professional condition, but still, have fun.
Try these tips and tricks to create the best remote working environment.
Create a dedicated office space…
In order to create that separation between home and work, you need a space. If you have a
dedicated office space, you’re one of the lucky ones. As this is now a full-time change until further
notice, you may also find yourself facing a few challenges.
The majority of us will be taking over an already functioning room when selecting (if there are
options) which room it should be. Pick an area that is clean, has good natural light, and one you
enjoy being in.
TIP: Don’t underestimate the influence of your remote working space – somewhere messy, dark, and
generally un-office-like, will make your days a drag.
… and no, your bed, sofa or milk crate doesn’t count
We all need rules. The first rule for remote working is to get up and do work. It seems simple, right?
You may think vegging out all day under your blankets is ideal, however, reality is that work will
continue to pile up.
Bed + Work = Unproductive
Your sleep, posture, and general productivity will become impacted by this decision. To benefit and
maintain a healthy night’s sleep and your working day, it’s better to face the day (clothed) from a
Find a comfortable chair
The definition of comfortable:
- (especially of clothes or furnishings) providing physical ease and relaxation.
- free from stress or tension.
The kitchen stool/dining table chair might be ‘comfortable’ now, but assess whether that’s going to
be the same answer in 3+ months.
You have options here. Go hard and purchase some serious office furniture, grab the chair from your
office – if safe and easy to do so, hire a chair from an office store, or look for a decent second-hand
It’s not just immediate comfort you are looking for. Spending countless hours in a chair that does not
provide the support for your back and pelvis can lead to musculoskeletal pain. Now’s the time to find
the right throne for your remote office space. Do some research, or ask a co-worker or office
manager for suggestions on the best chair and where to get one.
Make sure those in your household respect your working zone
It might seem like a good idea to have your loved ones and mates hanging around your ‘new’ office
but the reality is, these distractions will get in the way of your focus. You’ve got to get in the zone.
Finding a dedicated space, now that most folks are at home, can be a little tricky. It’s important to
understand and set some clear boundaries around your working hours, and when you need to stay
focused and dedicated to a task, ‘head down’ mode.
Find your groove and set a daily routine…
No coats or shoes needed to head into the office these days – chances are your commute has been
reduced from a handful of kilometers to a couple of steps. However, continue to set your alarm
clock for the usual time.
Morning routine: Get out of bed, shower and dress for your day. Casual Friday is fine, but your
pajamas, not so much.
What is your usual mode of transport to work? Do you cycle in? Go for a cycle. Do you normally walk
to work? Then go for a walk and grab coffee, juice, groceries. Do you read on the train? Take time to
read. If you play games or listen to a podcast, then continue to do so.
Just think, how do I usually set myself up for the day as you head into the office? Preserve it as best
as you can. This shift is visibly physical, but it’s also mental; stick to the ritual.
…including when you leave work
It’s weird but create an EOD routine, home-time
Balance is one of the hardest things to get right in life, but it’s important to do so. Now that your job
has never been so close to home, it doesn’t mean it has to take over. Set yourself a strict cut-off time
when your day is done – clock off and log off. Shut down your computer/laptop and tidy up your
Wash up your coffee mug and water glass for the day, pop away your stationery, and enjoy some
That it’s tough to switch off when work is so close to home, is the one thing on which we can all
agree, however, it’s crucial to respect your free time or you could start resenting your job.
Connection; both professional and personal
We are social beings – we rely on our colleagues for professional reasons, but they’re also the
people with whom we spend the most amount of time during the working week.
If you don’t know this already, it’s time to realize the importance of your work fam; check-in
regarding their general well-being, open channels of communication for both work correspondence
and water cooler banter.
At Donesafe, we’ve created dedicated channels in Slack for ‘rando’ things, ‘announcements’, ‘dogs’,
and ‘banter’ to continue sharing as you would face-to-face in the office.
We’ve also been given the luxury of taking time out of our busy schedules to attend virtual team pub
lunches, virtual happy hours with games, and virtual home workouts with the team.
A working time management structure…that works
Easier said than done, but organize your time management and be the master of your tasks. There
are many guidelines to follow, and you’ll also have down days. To navigate highs and lows, we
recommend having rigid time management rules in place; these can help you get back on track to
‘productivity central’. The popular Pomodoro technique says to break down your working day into
30-minute chunks: 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of break. There’s a range of methods
out there; have a look around and see what works best for you.
Resist the urge to splurge and stream
What’s that sound? That’s the sound of temptation calling you to watch your favorite shows or go
online shopping. With your living room just steps away from your desk (actually, you may be working
from your living room), the urge to stream an episode here or there will be strong. Resist it. That
‘one’ episode of Tiger King on Netflix could snowball into a whole seven hours of walking in the
world of big cats. (Sorry, we’re not here to add more temptation.)
The rule of thumb should be, if it doesn’t fly in the office, then it shouldn’t fly at home. Your Netflix
shows and online purchases will be ready and waiting once you log off for the day.
Reduce the number of times you are leaving the house and ensure it’s for essential reasons, in line
with government recommendations.
There’s been some confusion around the terms ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation.’ The two have
been used interchangeably in recent reports. They are not the same.
Sitting on your balcony, yard or garden will not immediately expose you to the risks of COVID-19. As
long as you maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from others, it’s fine to get out of the house or
Leaving your house to explore the great outdoors isn’t quite a thing right now, but leaving for
groceries or exercise can help stimulate your mind and this is important for your well-being.
Your mental health and well-being, and that of others, is likely to suffer as a result of this pandemic
as it continues to unfold over the coming weeks/months. A simple act like taking a walk in the sun
can truly help. Schedule a daily morning coffee walk; pick walking over driving, and grab some
groceries; or count your steps towards exercise for the day.
These nine tips, tricks, and essential life hacks will help you stay focused, safe, and in full control of
your COVID working-from-home life. If you have a to-do list, add these to that list now, and find a
time to work on your dedicated workspace and the changes you are facing. Remember to tick them
off sooner rather than later, otherwise, that lower back pain, and volume of workload, might