Working productively from home

(Sarah Hawk) #1

I work 100% remotely from home.

I went to a session on Saturday where we evaluated the pros and cons, and shared tips about creating healthy home work environments.

Does anyone else work from home and/or remotely?

What are your top tips for staying engaged, healthy and productive in that kind of environment?

(Mark Baldwin) #2

I used to love working from home. I felt relaxed and as long as I kept on top of my workload I could do the hours I wanted to. The flexibility was fantastic, but also meant I often had to work evenings/weekends in order to catch up, which I didn’t mind at the time, but with hindsight I probably ended up overcompensating and working more hours than I needed to. Also, even though I have a proper home office, I was constantly interrupted by my family. I have 2 young children and again I loved the extra time I spent with them, but it’s not 100% conducive to working. :slight_smile: I now work in the office with the rest of the team, but occasionally work from home, so I get the best of both worlds.

My tips for working from home would be:-

  1. Have a daily routine and stick to it as much as possible.
  2. Get out as much as possible. I used to go running on a morning for an hour or so after the kids had gone to school and then get on with work, it seemed to set me up well for the rest of the day. I would also go out for lunch as much as possible. Now that didn’t necessarily mean buying out, but just meant getting out. Meeting friends/family for a break, just something to get you out of the house regularly. Do a bit of work at a coffee shop.
  3. Don’t have your office right next to the kitchen.
  4. Learn to turn off the computer and all devices. Have a time that you turn off and stick to it.

(Darren Gough) #3

Good advice from @Mjbill. As someone who has gone back and forth over the years between office and home working, I now work mainly from home.

I’ve found a few good habits that help:

  • Dress as if you were going to work. If you’re not client facing on a video call, wear what you’re comfortable in but do the morning routine - shower, breakfast, coffee etc. You need to feel like you’ve set yourself up for the day

  • Exercise. Since I left my last office job this has been the biggest struggle for me. Before, I was in the gym almost every day near work, as there were always people heading over and it was like a mini club. Now, pretty much everyone I know is at work and as someone who thrives from competition I struggle with motivation. It’s important though.

  • Buy a massive water pitcher and take it full to your office every morning and afternoon. If it’s there, you’ll hydrate properly.

  • If you like coffee or tea, invest in the good stuff. This has been a mini revelation to me. We bought a proper cafetiere and loose leaf teapot and buy the proper stuff. In a world where you tend not to see people for lunches, a breakfast meeting or those days some legend brought in a treat for the office, a small investment in quality makes me feel like I’ve had a little treat. Might sound small, but it really works for me.

  • Your office space (if you have one) is not really a bedroom that Auntie Ethel gets when she wants to stay. This is your space to work; defend it and make sure everyone respects it.

My current favourite thing about WFH; at various times during the day when they can see I’m not on calls or head down in a heavy doc (which we signify with a shut door) my daughter will often come into my office to say hello, tell me about an episode of Dora Explorer (or some other high brow offering) and give me a hug. I cannot get that from being in the office 24/7 and I cannot explain the worth of that to anyone who doesn’t experience it but it’s incredible.

You would not believe what Dora got up to today…

(Richard Millington) #4

My routine has tended to shift a lot over the past few years.

I used to work from a private members’ club, now I work from home - but mostly because the views are great.

  • I wake up with my wife around 7am, we cook and eat breakfast (eggs, salmon, salad usually) together before she heads to work.
  • I blitz through my mail around 8.30am. This includes every inbound message on email, slack, social media, text etc… I usually get to inbox zero before I begin work.
  • I set rescuetime to block any distracting site until 5.30pm. All news/social media usually.
  • I leave my phone in the bedroom. I can hear it if it rings, but not if I get any messages - which works.
  • I have two big 1ltr jars of water I put on my desk and drink from before lunch (along with a packet of almonds I snack from at around 10.30am).
  • I work pretty much solidly until lunch on whatever the biggest win is (books, training, reports etc…)
  • I cook lunch (always the same, a fajita bowl) and take an hour away until about 1pm.
  • Then work through the smaller things outstanding - feedback on documents etc…All my calls are scheduled into this period or between 5 to 6pm (americans). (two more 1 litre jars of water here too).
  • I do an insanity workout from around 3.15pm to 4.15pm. I tend to get back to work around 4.45ish (longer if I feel like swimming).
  • I take calls / write blog posts / continue the big win project until my wife gets home around 7.30pm/8ish…

The biggest change recently is more work life balance. I try to avoid working beyond normal working hours these days.

More recently I’m setting up regular breakfasts with people who I want to learn more from.

(Sarah Hawk) #5

This is my biggest challenge. As of yesterday I have turned off work email and Slack on my phone. I found that I was never switching off. If I was watching TV with my partner I’d check in on work in the ads and then he’d get cross when I was still making him pause half an hour later. I would hear myself telling the kids that I’d answer them in a minute because I was just reading an email. I had a problem! Now, work happens on my laptop only (with small exceptions for really important things, I expect).

My biggest tip around exercise is doing it first thing. I get up at 5am, work for an hour, and then go to the gym. It’s the best time of day to exercise (from a metabolism POV) and you don’t end up making excuses not to go over the day. If we have a team meeting scheduled (we have them at my 6am) I make sure I block out gym time in my calendar later in the day.

I don’t take a lunch break (there’s no one to talk to!) so I make sure I take 10 mins at the end of every couple of hours and do a house related task that involves moving around.

The thing I found the most interesting at the session I mentioned in the OP is the number of people that recommend having an office and only working in there. I have an office, but I get incredibly restless if I stay there all day. I find that I’m much more productive if I move around the house.

(Darren Gough) #6

I love the idea of finding a small 10 min task every so often to get up, mentally take a break and move around. That’s a really cool idea.

(Mark Baldwin) #7

Even at the office, I’ve set an alarm on my phone to go off every hour to force me to get off my backside and have a walk around for 5 minutes. I always go out of the office on my lunch break, sometimes for a run (don’t worry, we have a shower at the office) but mostly for a walk. Mental and physical fitness is important when you are sat down most of the day.

(Darren Gough) #8

too true.

Perhaps we could start a thread on here aimed at home workers (although anyone welcome to join) where we set a small exercise goal for the day and everyone replies when they’ve done it.

(christopher w) #9

Very good question and I think it’s really overlooked considering the investment most top firms put into the corporate office environment.

Luckily for me the entire family is very fit and we motivate each other by competing on our Watt Bike, Ski Erg, C2 etc.

I’ve given up weights though (even though I have a Smiths Machine in the home ‘gym’) and now get all my toning exercise from Pilates and in particular by following Sean Vigue (I pay for his subscription service but his YT channel is excellent too). Pilates is great - try a few downward dogs to military press ups on the floor of your office - tends to make you keep it clean as a bonus :slight_smile:

Great idea - hadn’t considered that.


For years my spaniel was my reason to go out - but he passed away Saturday and apart from the huge feeling of loss I’m already concerned about the lack of reasons to get out regularly.

Not forgetting the office environment itself - I’ve invested quite heavily in furniture (some of it bespoke) including a Herman Miller chair, plus good quality audio (Radio 4 iPlayer on iPad above ). I’m addicted to audio books (currently listening to The Romanovs 1613 - 1918, although you have to be careful to match the book with the type of work you are doing.

(Darren Gough) #10

Sorry for your loss @ccdw. My dog was likewise my daily reason to go out and walk but we sadly lost her back in March and it instantly breaks that routine.

If we’re doing setup bragging, you’ve all never seen such a crafty use of a Nescafe coffee can as this. I’m also noticing that my clock might be slightly out, date wise.

(christopher w) #11

Did you get a another dog?

Helps with bass too no doubt?

(Darren Gough) #12

Not yet - we have a few other dogs in the family who come to stay which helps, but we decided to wait until early next year for a couple of reasons but we really miss her.

The bass is…rich and full-bodied :wink:

(Jennifer Zowada) #13

I love the idea of setting an exercise goal for the day and being held accountable! I just joined dietbet, it’s a community/app where you bet on your own weight loss, those who hit the 4% goal over the 4 week period get a portion of the pot which is at $90k at the moment!

(Darren Gough) #14

that’s interesting @Jennifer_Zowada - how’s it validated? Is it like a connected Withings thing?

(Darren Gough) #15

Here was today’s WFH benefit at lunchtime - impromptu BBQ action!

(Jennifer Zowada) #16

They have to take a photo of yourself full length, and then a picture of the scale with a codeword, then you send it in for approval. At the end of the challenge you do the same thing.

(Sarah Hawk) #17

Love this. DO IT!

(christopher w) #18

Count me in.

(Darren Gough) #19

Ok started a thread on this here if interested

(Rebecca Braglio) #20

love this!!! I just started wfh in my current job - i’ve always been in an office. for me the hardest part has been the limited human interaction. My animals just aren’t enough :cry: