5 Tips for working from home for first-time telecommuters during the coronavirus pandemic

At Magic Map, our team comes from a background in technology and software development. For those of you who don’t know, that means a lot of time spent on the computer, and the ability to work from anywhere we have an internet connection.

Over the last ten years, we’ve all worked from home during our careers and have accumulated tips and tricks to make working from home as productive as (and sometimes more productive than) working in the office. 

1: Don’t shake up your usual routine.

Keep your life ‘business as usual’, or, as usual as it can be now that your daily commute has been reduced by 99%. 

It’s fine to sleep in a little longer now that you have the extra time, but don’t overdo it. Wake up with enough time to complete your typical routine before settling into your day’s work.

Retaining routine helps keep your mind on track. As tempting as it is to work in your pajamas all day, don’t. There is some credence to the saying ‘dress for success’ and it applies just as much to your home office as it does in the workplace. 

2: Create a dedicated workspace, the more isolated, the better.

Just as keeping to your routine signals to your brain and body that it’s time to work, a dedicated space benefits your mind in the same way. 

If you have access to a desk and comfortable chair in a low traffic part of your home, excellent! However, not everyone is so lucky. 

Pick a spot you feel will be the most productive to you. That means no sitting in front of the television, or lying on the bed.

Setting up shop at the end of the kitchen table is better than slowly disappearing into your toddler’s beanbag chair. 

If you must work in a high traffic area, take steps to cut down on distraction. Wear noise-canceling headphones if you have them, or any headphones at all. You don’t even have to be listening to music, by wearing headphones you signal to others in your home that you are not available for conversation (distraction). 

3: Establish firm boundaries with your co-habitants

Some of you may live with people, like stay-at-home-parents or teenagers & children, whose work will not require them to be glued to a computer during this time.

Our team has historically found that it can be difficult for these people to remember that you are ‘at work’, particularly when no dedicated office with a closable door is available. 

Discuss your boundaries with the people you live with. They cannot read your mind. 

Examples include: 

  • Setting ‘working hours’ such as 9 am – 5 pm that is a ‘no conversation’ time.
  • Agreement to keep loud conversations, television, games, etc. out of your dedicated space during working hours.
  • Agreeing together that even though you are at home, you are ‘at work’ during this time and should essentially be treated as if you are not in the house.
  • Making a plan with your partner re: child care & amusement during this time to minimise distraction.

Setting strong boundaries with the people in your home not only helps manage their expectations but provides you with a personal set of ‘rules’ to follow, adding productive structure to your day.

4: Ramp up your communication with colleagues

You don’t realise how much planning, clarification, and adjustments happen to your projects simply through face-to-face collaboration until you begin working from home. 

Check-in with your colleagues regularly and don’t be afraid to over-communicate. 

If your company has a messaging software in place, use it often. If not, consider looking into something like ‘Slack’ to help keep people connected. 

5: Foster your inter-personal relationships 

At work, we have an opportunity to socialise and interact with others regularly. 

While we get to spend more quality time with our cats working from home, it lacks the same kind of human-to-human communication. 

In addition to the work you’re doing with your colleagues, don’t forget to reach out. Ask each other about their day, find out what they’re struggling with working from home and exchange ideas. 

Share GIFs, memes, and funny videos (although don’t overdo it), we will all need to laugh during this time, and to remember we’re not alone. 

It’s about creating a livable eco-system

Working from home can feel daunting if you have no prior experience.

The good news is that it’s a skill that can be learned, but like any skill, it takes practice. 

Use the five tips above to begin crafting your own work-from-home ecosystem. One where you ‘feel’ like you are at work, and where the people around you respect your ‘sacred bubble’ of workspace. 

If you practice good habits and set firm boundaries from the beginning, you’ll be comfortable working from home… just in time to return to the workplace 😉  

M.Cross
Magic Map Co-Founder & Magician

P.S. Remember that not everyone is lucky enough to have the ability or opportunity to perform their job from home. Remember to check on your friends and family in this tough time 💜