Yesterday a friend starting his first work from home job asked for my advice. With coffee hitting the right way here is what I came up with for him. Maybe it will help you too.
All that expensive furniture you see in regular offices? Turns out it is expensive because it is ergonomic and durable. Buy a good chair. Herman Miller or Steelcase are the two best brands to look at, even used ones are better than new cheap chair from Staples. Get a keyboard tray/external monitor setup. Your back will thank you.
Push to meet at least some of your co-workers in person at some point. Whether it’s a long drive for a lunch, day long event on a Friday, or a week-long trip on a plane, being able to see people in person at least once or twice a year makes a difference.
If your work issues a laptop and gives options, get the larger screen. Work from home is actually “work from anywhere” and if you decide to travel with a spouse for something they’re doing, you’ll be happy to have the larger screen when working from a hotel room. It will feel weird the first time you do this, like you’re getting away with something, but it’s surprisingly easy to work from hotels.
Starting work from home is a good time to check your Internet and router package. If your home qualifies for fiber internet from a provider like Verizon FiOS now is a great time to switch to it. Fiber makes a huge difference and is usually the kind of Internet you have been using in the office. Router technology has been improving a lot every year, if you have not bought a new one in the past few years lots of great options exist.
Leave the house for something, anything, preferably in the morning before you start your work day. It can be a morning coffee shop ritual, run, or anything else. It creates a nice transition for the day. If you do not leave the house for a day or days, things start to get weird.
Whatever you do, don’t work from bed. Ideally avoid putting your office setup in your bedroom.
Get in the habit of holding yourself to some sort of working hours. It does not have to be 9–5 but if you let work bleed into what should be off time then it gets too hard to turn off and recharge. You’ll burn out.
Finally you might discover work from home is not your thing. It is not defeat if you learn this. Some folks need to have the face to face time and be in the office to get things done. Other folks do not have issues doing work but miss seeing people. There is no shame in either asking to change your arrangement if that’s a possibility for your position or applying to new jobs if you find working from home makes you miserable.
Further Listening: Ezra Klein — The Office is Dying It’s Time to Rethink How We Work