101 tips for staying motivated working from home
Updated: Jul 8
When you first start working from home it can feel like a novelty. NO MORE COMMUTE. Perhaps you can get up in the morning a bit later. Put the washing machine on in the middle of the day. Get focused and get that piece of work done without any distraction.
However, after many weeks of COVID-19 lock down, many of you will agree that the novelty begins to wear off, the number of cups of tea might be getting excessive and even seasoned remote workers are likely to be getting bored of looking at the same four walls.
Firstly, just to point out. COVID-19 lock down has not been what we, as a remote first agency, would call “remote working”. This has not even been “homeworking”. This has been “homeworking, on lock down, in a pandemic” with all of the additional challenges and stresses which that situation brings.
However, for many businesses and individuals, working from home has proven to be successful and to have its benefits. One of the positives which has come out of this all, is that there are likely to be many more working from home opportunities in the future.
So, we thought it was worthwhile to document some of the ways, that people have told us they have been combating working from home fatigue during these extreme circumstances. So, we can take those learnings with us into the future.
This post was originally inspired by a panel discussion Anywhere Agency was invited to take part in a few weeks into lock down, looking at how to combat working from home fatigue.
Some of the tips below came out of that discussion. If you have any others we’d love to hear them, please comment on this post and we will add them to the list.
So here are 101 tips for working from home (and counting)... 101 is, as the number implies, quite a lot, so unless you have a cup of tea handy, perhaps dip in and out. Here are the subject areas covered:
Look after yourself and others
Evolve your communication
Make your time productive
Curate your workspace
Your physical health
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF AND OTHERS
Coping with the stress of change and uncertain times
1. First up on this list has to be, if you are working from home, remind yourself to be grateful. That means that you are still working. Many people are struggling to find employment. If you have your health, a safe home to work in and your job then you are luckier than many
2. Second of all, give yourself a bit of a break. Even if you have all of these things, and even coming out of lock down, these times are going to be challenging for you. Monitor yourself and make sure you give yourself time out when you need to
3. To keep track of where your head is at, consider getting up in the morning and spending ten minutes writing down whatever comes into your mind first. Empty your thoughts. Then look at them. Take responsibility. You are your own nurse, your own counselor and your own boss. How can you motivate yourself today?
4. When dealing with change, it’s helpful to recognise the phases of it. Acknowledge how you are feeling, then accept it, then set your intention to adapt
5. Tell yourself it is ok, if occasionally you login to your emails when you are still in in your pyjamas. Celebrate what working from home is good for. Treat yourself once in a while. But don’t make it a habit. Get dressed. Make your bed. Be a functional human being
6. If you need help, ASK FOR IT. Ideally before you actually need it. And don’t feel alone. We have all needed help during these times
7. Think forwards to keep yourself on track, write a list of all the things you want to achieve in the next month. Stick it on a wall, your door, your fridge - somewhere where you can see it all of the time
8. Keep yourself motivated and congratulate yourself on what you achieve. Put something on your daily list that’s really easy to do. So, you can cross it off quickly, and feel like you are getting somewhere 😊. Keep moving forwards
Find your routine
9. Find your rhythm – when do you work best in the day and on what? How can you plan around this so you ride your own waves?
10. Make a home plan – as a team. Sit down with the people you live with. Including your children. Discuss, when is work time? When is play time, how can you support each other?
11. Talk to your employer and make sure they know the challenges you have to deal with at home, they should be supportive and open to flexible working
Keep social connection
12. At least once a day, speak to one of your friends, family, contacts that are out of the house
13. Try out the plethora of new online group events and marvel at their innovation. Yet, also enjoy picking up the phone and having one to one conversations with people. You will likely get to know them better than you did before
14. If you have an idea, think who may be interesting to discuss it with. Never have people been more open to talking, trying something new or doing something differently
15. Reach out to people you might not have previously have reached out to before. You will get new thoughts and perspectives and also help them to stay connected
Learn something new
16. In today’s fast-moving world, skills have an expiry date. To help keep yourself interested and ahead of the curve, choose something new you are going to learn and give yourself 20 minutes a day to move it forwards. Online learning is booming and there are a lot of free resources out there you can take advantage of
17. If you haven’t already, discover audio books and podcasts, they are a great alternative to more screen time
18. If you are a leader it is your responsibility to provide the right environment for success. How can you support your team’s work, health and well-being when working from home?
19. Watch out for your colleagues and friends that go quiet. Find out what they have been working on and how they are feeling
20. Consider supporting your local businesses and buying locally
21. If you have an income. Is there something positive you can do with it? You are likely to be saving money by not having to travel, entertain etc. Could you offer someone without employment a paid project to help you get one of your own ideas off the ground?
22. Smile at your neighbours and help them if they need it. Keep this habit post lockdown. Community is a beautiful thing
EVOLVE YOUR COMMUNICATION…
Social distancing does not need to mean social isolation
23. You can still message and call people, better still if you can video conference call them. Seeing someone’s face can really help with connection
24. Think how to bring your team together in a social context as well as a work context to keep them motivated. Everything that existed in the real world is moving to be something you can do at home. Pub quizzes, music events, exercise classes. If you have an internet connection (something else to remind yourself to be grateful for) the world is at your feet
Build trust and be sensitive
25. Proactively look for ways to build trust and visibility. This is not an option when remote working. It may feel like lip service but it is key to successful remote teamwork. Be contactable. Report what you are doing. If you turn into a black hole when it comes to communication, you may very well be working really hard on something, but people will wonder where you are
26. Take a moment to ask for context before you launch into a work conversation. The person you are talking to may be having challenges with childcare, a sick relative, understand their situation before launching in
Keep communication both efficient and emotionally intelligent
27. Have a 5-minute daily huddle with your team to see how they are, establishing what is the one thing they want to get done today and what could be standing in their way
28. Instigate 3 MINUTE ONLY zoom calls, to run ideas past people, just as you would if you were walking past their desk. Not every Zoom call needs to be a long meeting
29. Don’t skip around communication channels it’s annoying when you can’t remember what channel to look for things on. Consolidate which channels you communicate on, when and why
30. Generally, people dislike getting lots of emails. This hasn’t changed just because you are on lock down or working from home. If your email is longer than a few lines, it’s likely to be better communicated as a conversation or in a document attachment
Have some fun moving with the times
31. Augmented reality and virtual backgrounds are like a new language we are all learning. As emoticons have been, both are likely to become incorporated into punctuation of everyday communication. Keep up with trends so you don’t look like a technophobe and have fun exploring them
32. Give in to the fact that, to compete with the masses, you are going to need a virtual background. Actually, you will likely need a suite of virtual backgrounds (and accompanying light show) to stand out from the crowd
33. Consider creating a branded virtual background or video which you can give to prospects as a “leave behind” (or you could ask Anywhere Agency to create it for you 😉 ) - it could be a good marketing tool
34. Don’t show off too much. Not everyone has caught up with how to use video conferencing to its optimum yet, help people with how to use the functionality, don’t make them feel isolated and behind because they can’t yet
35. Branded backgrounds, virtual backgrounds and augmented reality all have an appropriate time and place. Consider also when it’s useful to show yourself in a more natural light and just have the background of your home behind you
Expect technology failure from time to time
36. Don’t keep fruitlessly clicking on something if your Wifi fails. Leave it for a minute and go and make a cup of tea. Then come back to it. They say you should check out someone’s reaction to bad WiFi before you marry them… just saying
37. Don’t forget to back up your work. They (whoever they are!) also say most accidents happen in the home. We aren’t sure, but we suggest presuming this fact applies to laptops too
38. You will have video conferencing technology challenges, accept it. Go with it and play conference call roulette quietly with yourself. Remember to have patience with someone else if it happens to them. You know, at some point, it will happen to you too
Keep it simple and grow its potential
39. When moving to a working from home model, keep technology as simple as possible to start with, so people don’t get frustrated having to learn too much new tech all at once
40. Stick to the same video conferencing tool if you can, it will increase the likelihood of everyone being able to dial in on time
41. When you have settled into the flow of working from home look at increasing your tech armoury. What tools would make you more efficient? What within your business can you automate?
42. Coronavirus has caused major disruption which it would have been very difficult to plan for, I know you may not want to hear this right now, but there are other disruptors out there on the market. Proactively consider how will trends in technology affect your future business (they will come at you faster than you think). AI, AR, VR, robotics etc all present both opportunities and threats. Get back onto the right foot to manage your future
MAKE YOUR TIME PRODUCTIVE…
43. Reassess your job list. Just because that was the plan before all of this does not mean it is the priority for now or moving forwards
44. Don’t fight an upwards battle with what is happening around you, find a way to evolve so that you are responding to it and driving what happens next in the market
45. Avoid the grey zone. Either be working or not working. Trying to do both is unlikely to be productive
46. Avoiding the grey zone includes – either be fully present with your child or not
47. Create different areas of your home, which are designated as work spaces and, if you have children (or just for yourself!) play spaces. Even if it’s not possible to keep them separate all of the time create time zones when they are separate
48. Keep your headphones on even when you aren’t using them, if you have others working in the house with you, or children, it will help you to stay focused and for them to realise you are working
49. Write notes to stay focused on long calls when you aren’t talking. Desk doodle art could be what defines this decade. But question if you aren’t participating. Is it productive that you are on the call?
50. Get organised. No excuses. This is possibly the best time in your whole life you will have to do this. Declutter. File. Make your space workable
51. DO YOUR TAX RETURN. Get the thing over with. For once in your life don’t have it hanging over you this year
Do some deep thinking work
52. Take stock, what long term planning can you do now, which could help you prepare for future disruption?
53. Working from home can be great for getting things done without being interrupted, do some of the deep-thinking tasks you don’t usually get done
54. Did you know there is something called “Write a Novel in November month?”. Rome may not have been built in a day but many things have been created during lock down. Use the extra time you have from working from home to achieve positive ends
55. What are you doing to make that happen. Make sure you set aside time for that
What will you take with you?
56. There are so many benefits of working from home to your own well being, and the planet’s. What will you take with you post lock down?
CURATE YOUR WORKSPACE
Work is what you create, surround yourself with your ideas
57. Treat your workspace like an art studio. It is where you create. Surround yourself with your ideas
58. Order a whiteboard. Or if you can’t get one, get a piece of cardboard and prop it up somewhere. Pin your ideas on it so you can have them around you. Create Pinterest boards to give you inspiration of any projects you are working on
Kit out your home office
59. Think about your posture and optimise the ergonomics of where you work. Look after your back, shoulders, neck, wrists and eyes (as well as the rest of you)
60. Get a desk stand so that you aren’t looking down at your laptop all of the time, or prop it up on books
61. Use headphones and a microphone to improve the audio of you online communications
Make your create space a place you want to be
62. If you feel like you need to clean everything before you can get focused in anything, the first rule of working from home club is CLEAN EVERYTHING, JUST DO IT, you will be distracted until you do
63. Rearrange your furniture. It will feel like a new start and help you put your workspace more at the centre of your home
64. Get a pet desk plant. It will automatically make the air seem fresher around you and you can talk to it if you need to
65. Don’t forget to water your desk plant. It doesn’t rain inside
66. Create a desk altar of inspiration. Collect things that you love in that space, or things that remind you why you are doing what you are doing
67. Open the window when you can. Fresh air will make it feel like there is more oxygen. And if there isn’t and you are letting in the CO2 your desk plant can get on it
68. Follow the sun around the house so you get as much natural light as you can
69. Create cheerful music playlists of your old favourites and explore artists you haven’t heard before
70. If you can, have a designated workspace, so you have a divide between your work and your free time. But mix it up a bit and move around the house sometimes for a change of scene. Perhaps brainstorm white tacking onto the corridor wall, or call a colleague from the balcony
Reduce, reuse, recycle
71. Use some cardboard and a bull-dog clip to make a clip board, make use of your scrap paper (both sides of it)
72. You know that universally acknowledged truth, that pens have a long shore drift which eventually deposits them in a forgotten pen haystack in your drawer, now is the time to use them, methodically one at a time until they run out – and free up some drawer space
73. Finish one notebook at a time. Notebook discipline 101
YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH
74. Make sure you move, get up make tea, walk around while you are on the phone, don’t sit still too long
75. In place of your former commute to work, perhaps get up in the morning and do some physical exercise at home instead. Make this your own transition and metaphorical commute to your working day
76. In lock down we have had to use the outside world sparingly. The world is opening up again now. As are your outside working options, plan your ”out” trips while it’s sunny and light to make them count
77. Don’t follow the crowds, figure out some outside exercise routes where you can maintain a safe social distance and get that head space you can only get away from other people
78. Get a bike. If you haven’t joined that secret club yet there are adventures to be had. Keep the bike when all of this is over. It’s much better for you and the environment than other transport options
79. Have an exercise buddy. Commit to each other that you are going to do exercise at a certain time each day even if you aren’t together. Text them to say you are starting so you know you are in it together
You are what you eat
80. There may be moments that you think it is, but the fridge is not the answer to all of your problems. Put a sign inside your fridge to tell yourself “you aren’t hungry you are bored”
81. The fridge is however more accessible to you working from home than in an office, as is eating the food that you want to eat. Think about your shopping list, you’ll need treats, but if you’ve been working from home for a while now, perhaps it’s time to get healthy and watch what you eat?
82. Set yourself a target of trying at least 3 new dishes a week
83. Have a late breakfast if you want to, hey working from home has some perks
84. Have a bottle of water by your desk so you know how much you have drunk in a day
85. Make banana bread. You’ve probably made bread already and banana bread must be healthy it has got bananas in it. And really it’s cake. So ummm not healthy but perhaps you could file this tip under the look after your mental health section instead
The future is not working from home it is working from Anywhere
86. Lock down is easing. Yet many companies are still working remotely. Welcome to imagining not just working from home but working from Anywhere. Everything you have learned working from home will help you prepare for this
87. Anywhere is still likely to need a base. A place that is set up for you to work and you can take calls and crack on. That might be your home, or a shared workspace, or a favourite haunt that ticks all of the boxes, or a combination of all three
88. Anywhere could be your local park. Even if your hot spot connection isn’t great. Take a piece of work you can do offline to the park. And don’t feel bad about it. It’s a great way of staying focused, starting something and fitting it into the time you have given yourself to finish it
89. Anywhere could be ANY park. Plan yourself some adventures. Cycle in your lunch break to a place you wouldn’t usually go to. Change your scene
90. Things to remember when working outside. Find a place where you are half in the sun, half in the shade. Charge your laptop and phone battery before you go. Don’t forget your sunglasses and suntan lotion! Best stuff your rain coat in too in case it is needed for the way home
91. Anywhere, might soon be again, your local coffee shop. The background noise of coffee shops has been proven by scientific studies to be optimal for productivity. Find favourites which you know have great Wifi and are off the beaten track enough that they will value your repeat business and allow you to sit there for a while
92. Anywhere could be a library, many of which are historic buildings and having books and all those people around you can be inspiring
93. Anywhere could be visiting your parents or friends and getting on with stuff in the daytime and seeing them in the evening
94. Anywhere could be a holiday destination you have always wanted to visit. Who says working in your local park is any different to working at the beach? It isn’t. If you are disciplined and bring the right kit with you
95. Anywhere could be anytime. The world, across time zones, is working 24 7. Why does your day need to be 9am to 5pm? So long as you get your work done
96. Anywhere could be with anyone. Find work buddies even if they aren’t working with you. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off and motivating to have someone sat next to you sometimes
97. Anywhere could be in a city or the countryside or a developing country. A reliable internet connection being possibly your only limitation
98. Anywhere could be anyone. Remote working means access to a global talent pool and a move towards more equal opportunities
99. Anywhere means the freedom to roam, being inspired by your surroundings and getting more out of your life. And if you are getting more out of your life, you will be more motivated and in turn are likely to produce better work
100.Anywhere working takes career planning. Find a company which will support the best environment for your work. Or perhaps you could set one up yourself
101.As lockdown has taught us, homeworking, which is a big part of Anywhere working, is not all cups of tea and pyjamas. Anywhere working is still WORK and takes work. It is a skill in itself which relies on SELF MOTIVATION. Take time to reflect on what works for you. Good luck!