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Making the Shift: A Guide to Making Working from Home Work for You

Olivia Scholes

Marketing Associate - 12 May, 2020

The sudden shift to working from home surprised us all. Maintaining productivity from home comes with unique challenges. From getting stuck at the kitchen table to struggling to find the right technology, working from home can be a headache. That’s why we put together a guide to simplify the transition from office to home, just like all of us at Shift had to make.

1. Set Up Your Workstation for Success

There’s no doubt, it’s a stressful and anxious time in the world. But, in times of uncertainty, it’s important to focus on the things you do have control over. Simple things like setting up your new home workstation can bring you a sense of calm, and help you boost your productivity.⁠

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Focus on three key areas when setting up your home workstation: dedicated space, ergonomics, and personalization.

2. Stake Out Your Space

Find a space in your home that you can dedicate to work.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Whether it’s a spare room or a desk in the corner, setting up dedicated space for work is crucial for maintaining boundaries between work and personal life.
  • Work near a window to get the double benefit of natural light and fresh air.

Related Article: How to Design Your Workspace for Maximum Productivity

3. Make it Ergonomic

Ergonomics is the art of designing your workstation so that it fits you, not the other way around. ⁠

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Position your screen at eye-level using a laptop riser or a few stacked books with a separate keyboard.
  • Sit about an arm's length away from your monitor.
  • Choose a chair that has a back and is the correct height for your feet to rest comfortably on the floor.
  • Turn on your screen’s blue light filter to reduce eye strain.

4. Personalize It

  • Add a picture, candle or plant to your home workstation to make it more inviting

5. Set Work and Personal Life Boundaries

It can be hard to maintain work-life balance at the best of times, but it’s particularly tricky when you’re new to working from home. 

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Aside from having a dedicated workspace, three other key ways to establish boundaries are to:
    • Reduce distractions.
    • Set clear working hours.
    • Use separate devices for work and personal life.

6. Build a Work from Home Routine

Routines help structure our daily lives. But, if you’re like so many others working from home, your weekday routine might be really thrown off right now. ⁠

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Wake up and fall asleep at the same time everyday.
  • Stick to weekday habits: brush your teeth, take a shower, and change out of your pyjamas.
  • Schedule 15 minute breaks.
  • Get moving every day.

Related Article: How to Fall In Love with Your Productivity Routine

7. Stay Focused

There are so many distractions—family, kids...that pile of laundry in the corner—all competing for your attention while working from home. ⁠

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Create a to-do list the night before.
  • Match your music to the task.
  • Create set times for checking social media or the news.
  • Schedule tasks in blocks of time in your calendar.

Related Article: How to Stay Productive and Focused While Working From Home

8. Fight the Urge to Procrastinate at Home

Procrastination: we’re all guilty of it. But lately, the urge to procrastinate seems to be stronger. Here are four things you can do right now to resist the temptation to put things off. ⁠

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Start early.
  • Break down big projects into smaller tasks.
  • Tackle the easiest tasks first.
  • Reward yourself.
  • Switch up your scenery.

9. Juggle Parenting and Working from Home

Juggling parenthood with a full-time career is challenging at the best of times. Add on working from home with no daycare and it can all get a little overwhelming.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Audiotapes are your best friend.
  • Stagger working hours around when your kids are in bed.
  • Take advantage of free resources for entertainment and education

10. Feel and Perform your Best

Finding the elusive flow state can be tricky, especially when working from home.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Work on projects you are passionate about.
  • Listen to classical music or ambient sounds.
  • Design your environment.
  • Remove all distractions.

Related Article: Productivity Tips for Remote Workers

11. Choose the Right Tools

As many of us are finding, collaboration across remote teams comes with a set of new challenges and hurdles.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Use Dropbox Paper to organize projects, store files and comment in real-time.
  • Use Google Docs for writing to track changes, leave comments, and assign actions items to your teammates.
  • Use Loom to give detailed feedback with screen recordings.

Related Article: Top Apps for Taking Your Team’s Productivity to the Next Level

12. Complete Projects Remotely

Take projects from start to finish.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Let your team know when you’re available and when you’ve logged off for the day.
  • Schedule frequent virtual meetings to review important projects and to check-in.
  • Use the right tools to collaborate remotely:
    • Monday.com for managing projects
    • Airtable for taking spreadsheets to the next level
    • Slack for quick check-ins
    • Jira for technical projects

13. Use Written Communication Effectively

Now, more than ever, it’s important to stay connected with your virtual team.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Keep your messaging clear and concise.
  • Add emojis to your message to convey tone.
  • Format your message with bold, italics or CAPS.

14. Maintain Face-to-Face Communication

  • Use Zoom for team meetings or virtual happy hour.
  • Use Marco Polo for long form video messages.

Related Article: The 12 Best Video Conferencing Apps for Remote Meetings

15. Host Effective Virtual Meetings

Most of us are fairly new to the Virtual Meeting Only Club. Luckily, there are loads of great resources that you can use to boost the effectiveness of your virtual team meetings.

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Design meetings around a project or goal.
  • Create a list of topics to review for the meeting and send it out the day before.
  • Give each person dedicated time to speak.
  • Debrief before ending the call.
  • Try a daily stand-up 15 minute phone call.
  • Check in weekly with a 30 minute video call.

Related Post: How Virtual Teams Communicate Effectively

Hopefully this guide helps you navigate some of the challenges of working from home. When in doubt, keep it simple by setting up a dedicated workspace, logging off at the end of the day, and choosing the right digital tools to streamline your work. Shift puts all of your apps, accounts and workflows into one streamlined desktop workstation. You can get started with Shift for free now.