Carve out a dedicated workspace (achieving focus)
Where you work is as important as what you work on and who you work with. If you're able to use a dedicated space or room purely for work, that is ideal. If not, even a simple curtain to block off a place of work may usher you into a place of focus. The execution of this will look different depending on your home, and who all is in the domicile during your working hours, but the key is to find a space that is purely for work.
Once found, focus next on ergonomics. We will allow reimbursements on certain items (chairs, noise-canceling headphones, monitors, external keyboards, etc.) which promote a healthy and focused workspace. Try not to compromise on comfort. You may be able to work this way for a week or two, but over time your productivity, health, and mood will likely decline.
Separate work from life (preventing burnout)
This is likely to be the most difficult hurdle to clear, particularly for new work-from-home employees who have family in the home around the clock. You should have a dedicated conversation with family, helping them understand that just because you're home, doesn't mean you're available.
A shortcut to boundary setting is this: "If it's important enough that you'd commute to my usual office and come to my desk, then it's important enough for you to visit my home workspace." You may also consider a busy/available indicator.
When there's no physical office to leave from, it's tempting to work longer than is expected (or healthy). If useful, set reminders to begin and end work, and pre-plan activities to fill the void where a commute once stood. Proactively planning what you'll do with your commute time is key to ramping into a workday and ramping off. This will look different for each individual, but leaving your home for a walk or a planned activity with friends/community is a great way to create unmistakable separation.
Don't stop engaging with people (avoiding loneliness)
When there is no office to influence spontaneous informal communication, you must be intentional about weaving it into your day.
- Schedule regular coffee chats with people using a video call.
- Experiment with video-based tools like Loom.
- Create an always-on video conferencing room that your team can work from. (And remember, in a remote setting, it's OK to look away!)
- Talk about what you normally would. If sports, vacation plans, and hilarious tales of insubordination by children are common water-cooler material, work with your team to establish a chat channel to discuss things outside of work. The medium may be different, but the connection is the same.
- Drop any shame or embarrassment. Everyone is in the same boat — a forced work-from-home arrangement with no preparation. Don't worry about your background, and feel welcome to let your pets and family find their way into calls on occasion. It humanizes the experience and reminds everyone that we're people first, and colleagues second.
- Connect with family and community. Working from home gives you an opportunity to spend time with a different set of people than just your coworkers. Look for opportunities to build bonds with family and community, which may have been impossible or limited when you had a commute.
Respect the routine, but experiment with change (finding structure)
While embracing asynchronous workflows is a significant benefit of an all-remote team, temporary work-from-home arrangements may be less amenable to massive swings in time zone adoption. If this is the case, it's wise to formulate a routine that closely aligns with your prior routine. As mentioned above, the key is proactively filling the space that once held your commute. Aim for using this time to make yourself healthier. Exercising, resting, bonding with family, cooking, reading, studying, etc. — all great options. If you aren't careful, that time can be squandered and the lines between sleeping and working blurred.
However, do not feel beholden to a routine. A perk of remote is the ability to experiment with unconventional working days. It's understood that not everyone shares the same peak hours of energy and focus. If you feel that you work best in late evenings, for example, have that conversation with your team and experiment with a non-linear workday, a term that describes the splicing of life and work, in a deliberate stop-and-start fashion to maximize one's quality of life and work.
Roll with the changes (embracing iteration)
Relax: you aren't born knowing how to work from home. Companies built on the expectation of gathering people in the same shared physical space each day will experience acclimation pains when adjusting to a purely work-from-home environment. If not taken in stride, this friction can cause serious harm — operationally as well as culturally.
Remember that transitioning to remote, even if temporary, is a process. You cannot copy an in-office environment and paste it into a remote one and expect everyone to function as usual.
It's important to overcommunicate with your team as you adjust. Speak up about issues. Offer solutions for communication gaps. Seek advice on how others have carved out dedicated places of work within their home. Crowdsource advice from within your organization. Look for opportunity in the midst of what will likely feel like a chaotic and destabilized situation. Remote is a chance to rethink how you live and work, and though it may sound counterintuitive, unleashing your imagination to take advantage of your new working reality may lead to long-term efficiencies.