Companies are now embracing and encouraging their workforce to work from home more than ever. As a remote-first company, Nathan James is committed to ensuring that this model supports the functionality of the business and, more importantly, that it adds value to the lives of all employees.
Structured around the philosophy of balance, working from home can provide the opportunity for a lifestyle that reflects and meets the needs and priorities of both company and individual employees. The potential benefits differ according to the priorities of each individual in the team.
For many, no longer commuting provides time to drop the children at school, attend a parents’ meeting or sports day or get to the gym. For others, replacing lengthy office meetings that often reinforce a stressful corporate environment leaves valuable time to reflect and develop effective and creative solutions to work challenges.
However, working remotely can also require significant adjustment. Suddenly, that spare bedroom, dining room, or closet needs to double up as a productive office space. Scheduling conference calls around family life can also present challenges, and sticking to a healthy set work routine can be challenging. To help you achieve a healthy equilibrium, we’ve compiled our top tips that will prepare you for maximum well-being while accomplishing your best work from the comfort of your own home.
Pick your home-office location. Ideally, it needs to be somewhere that is quiet and comfortable, has a strong wifi connection, and allows for minimal distraction. Working in the middle of your kitchen where there are multiple opportunities for distraction is probably not a good spot, plus that snack drawer may prove too tempting!
Establish boundaries with loved ones. People, especially families, appreciate honesty. Make time to have a calm and honest discussion about work hours and the need for minimal distraction. Having a conversation at an early stage will make remote work so much easier than trying to have this conversation when unhelpful work routines have already become established.
Procure the right equipment. Practical and joyful should be the focus when it comes to your desk setup. What do we mean by that? Well, you want your workspace to include the necessary equipment for you to do your job efficiently and effectively and represent space and place that you enjoy inhabiting. We’ve found the most important elements are a sturdy desk, a comfy and practical chair, a laptop stand to reduce neck pain, and, surprisingly, the occasional fresh flower arrangement or delicious smelling candle. These extra touches may not be functional, but they do set the right tone for your workspace so that a dreary desk area turns into a welcoming, inspirational place for you to create the best work of your career.
Items we recommend:
- Standing desk
- Standing mat
- External keyboard/mice
- High-definition webcams
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Dedicated microphone
- Laptop stand
Prioritize ergonomics. It’s worth investing in equipment designed to ensure that you work more healthily. It’s easy to realize that halfway through the day, when an insistent neck or backache causes you to sigh and wriggle in discomfort, you’ve been slumped in an unsuitable chair all morning. With this in mind, we recommend investing in a yoga mat and foam roller to enhance your stretch routines and schedule regular mid-day walks.
Internet Connection. Stronger download speeds are critical when multiple family members work from home. A download speed of 50 Mbps or higher is desirable for those with several family members working from home simultaneously using streaming services. If you cannot obtain that speed on your first speed test, consider this article.
Intentionally manage isolation, mental health & team dynamics
While working remotely has provided a positive change for many, it can be isolating and lonely. If you are not mindful of its effects, you can quickly develop bad habits that could negatively impact your well-being and workflow.
Whether you’re home alone, working alongside a roommate, a spouse, or your kids—we’ve got something for you in this guide. Physical and mental health is paramount. Whether you're a WFH newbie or a remote work veteran, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the tips, tricks, and resources provided below.
Be a good listener and a concise communicator. Fulfilling work relationships start and end with respect. Forming strong relationships in a remote team is challenging but especially important when working remotely. Your communication skills need to be considered in order to avoid mis-communications and an endless ping-pong dialogues. Be open to really tuning in and listening to colleagues. Approaching exchanges with an open mind and empathy will create a wonderful work atmosphere and a more effective workflow in a team environment.
Keep calm when under pressure. This is a key component when aiming to complete work stress-free and timely. Make sure you research before emailing or messaging a college for help. Usually, there are the answers out there. It just takes a little up-front time and patience to find them. When you feel overwhelmed, take a break. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? But you'd be surprised what a cup of tea and a few calming, mindful breathing exercises can do!
Take the emotion out of business. Do not punish yourself by being overly analytical or worrying about the ‘tone’ of work emails or messages. Remember that your team aims for the same goal - to get the work done calmly and effectively.
Be honest. More often than not, we carry our past work baggage with us when we begin remote work. We are terrified of ‘messing up’ or making a mistake. But you must remember we are all human! When you make a mistake, be honest and admit it. Your colleagues will respect your honesty, and 9 times out of 10, your teammates will understand and be ready to assist you.
Schedule online therapy. Taking one hour a week to talk about and reflect on issues and challenges can significantly help your mental well-being. Now, more than ever, online or virtual therapy is readily available and accessible.
Schedule downtime. Working long hours without a break will lead to burnout and undermine the quality of the work you produce. Be intentional and schedule time for friends and family, exercise, or hobbies. Here are some quick-fire ideas below.
- Move your body with a virtual fitness class
- Bake something delicious
- Water your plants
- Take a midday walk at a local park.
- Read a chapter of your favorite new book a day.
- Learn something new like a language or online course.
- Visit an art gallery.
- Practice yoga or pilates
- Do a crossword puzzle or sudoku
- Draw freeform or try adult coloring books
- Make a hot tea or fun coffee drink
- Journal or do a writing prompt
- Clean out & organize your closet
Tips for remote video calls
When working from home, online communication is constant. Large group conference calls can be tricky to negotiate and stressful, especially when everyone is trying to convey their point at once. Don’t worry, zoom fatigue can be easily combated with a few simple tips:
- Be intentional about your communication. Approach conversations with empathy and keep your points concise and easily understandable.
- Don't rely on nonverbal cues—ask for feedback in chat, people will appreciate your transparency and willingness to collaborate.
- Call on participants by name. This is a sign of respect and helps develop fulfilling work relationships.
- Leave a few seconds for people to respond. People process information at different speeds and it is important to leave time for individuals to reflect.
- Ensure everyone has a chance to participate. This is especially important in conference or group calls. Actively ask if anyone has anything to add. Perhaps organizing a quick brainstorming session at the end of a call where people know it is a safe space to ‘think out loud’ will create a positive and inclusive space.
- Know who's hosting the meeting and screen sharing.
- Determine if you need to record the meeting or pull up a notes app to keep the minutes of the meeting.
- Mute by default if it's a large meeting.
- Default to keeping the camera on. Eye contact and facetime is so helpful when working remotely.
- Avoid distractions (close other programs, mute notifications on your phone and let family members know you're on a call)
Finally, working remotely is all about balance. It is so important to give yourself permission to drop prior workplace baggage at the door, embrace a liberating and empowering schedule, and give yourself space to learn a new way of working. We know it’s hard not to carry past work habits with you, but if you relax into the knowledge that working remotely can provide a safe space to be your best self both at work and in life, you will never look back!
Some desks we recommend: