Working from home - Top advice from a start up

Remote working and working from home is something that is second nature to Millennials/Gen Z employees. As a startup that manages a number of employees remote working around the world, we cannot imagine a world without it. However, it is a small population that works like this, in comparison to the larger number of employees who work from an office.
We put together some of the best advice from the startup community on being productive in your at-home workplace:

  • Get up and treat the day the same as any other workday. Make sure you shower, wash your face, brush your teeth, go through your normal morning routine. I find it important to make sure I put on fresh clothes too. This doesn't necessarily mean to put on 'proper' working clothes, but something clean and comfortable to make the mental transition from home to work. Avoid working in your bedroom - it is good to have a separation of work space and life/relaxation space.
  • Whilst everyone works differently, build some structure into your day. One simple way of achieving this is through a to-do list. Highlight which items are key to your productivity today. A question our Founder often asks is “What needs to be done today, that will make tomorrow better?”. If you are feeling completely out of place and uncomfortable without your regular routine, building your own at-home version will go a long way towards providing you clarity and focus.
  • Have office hours in your calendar. Borrowing the term from VCs ( start up jargon for venture capital firms), office hours are hours in which the company is available for meetings with anyone external. Thats right, communication with anyone else is limited to a few select hours. If you arrange your conference call to the morning, you have the rest of the day to focus on your work, thus eliminating distractions. Reduced distractions are one of the best things about working from home.
  • Create an atmosphere for productivity. This is your personal space and therefore you can curate a space which is custom to your working style. Make sure your surroundings are clean, have access to natural light and a proper desk space. Spruce it up with some flowers from your local flower shop and light a scented candle (one of our favourite things to do). This is an opportunity to create the work environment of your dreams, so embrace it!
  • Music is good for the soul, and if you are the type of person who likes to work with sound, music is a great ambience creator. Spotify has a great range of instrumental tunes and ambients noises. Feel free to try out some soothing sounds such as outdoor sound effects ie, waves on the shore of a beach, the slight ruffling sounds of a forest, or the crinkle of a fireplace. We find that cinematic soundtracks and music from Africa are great for creating an atmosphere of creativity, lounge music is great to general light work and instrumental/lo-fi beats are excellent for deep work.
  • Remember your posture. It feels great sometimes to work from your sofa or in bed but this type of habit will affect your back health in the long term. It is imperative that you think of the position you are in, when working for a number of hours, especially when you will be work from home for longer than just a few days. Laptop users, make sure you use a monitor set at eye level or external keyboard with your laptop set at eye level so you can limit the strain on your neck and back.
  • Breaks are important. Tea breaks, snack breaks or, if you are feeling up to it, a work out break too. Take a lunch break and go for a walk or jog to get some fresh air.
  • Make use of online work tools such as Slack, WhatsApp and Skype to keep communication fluid and to stay in contact with your team. Set yourself up properly and really utilise project management tools- friend of the company, Andy Ayim, has put together a great list on online tools. As a matter of priority, make sure your internet connection and coverage is sufficient for the type of work you are doing at home. Embrace online learning and online communication - we are lucky to live in a time where so much is available to us from the comfort of our homes.
  • If you have a significant other or a housemate, work in different rooms. This separation allows for more focus and limits the suffocating feeling of spending too much time together. If this doesn’t bother you at all, it is still important that you both have your won work stations and you have a conversation to set a few ground rules such as where to take telephone calls etc.
  • Set some work hours. You can follow your workplace’s work hours or create your own, but it is important draw a line between your two realities. This way people will know what times they can reach you, and what times you are not available. Thus you will be able to maintain balance between work and life in one place.
  • Finally, stay positive and keep an upbeat attitude. We are lucky to be safe and healthy with homes to work from. Embrace working from home with a sense of gratitude and have fun with it - after all, it’s not the end of the world - at least we hope not.

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