Colleagues past and present suggested that I write a blog post about my tips and tricks in working from home. I’ve never considered myself an expert, but do have some systems in place that work for me.
I’ll begin with a statement – the last 4 weeks are not the normal work from home – there are a host of factors that further complicate the whole WFH experience.
1. Have a morning
Since starting at Applitools, I’ve been able to adjust my schedule and actually have been able to have a bit of a morning ritual and it’s been nice. I am sure to wake up 60-90 minutes before starting work, making it a point to take a breath, have a coffee, breakfast, and reach out to some of my family on the east coast.
2. Bandwidth and WiFi
Invest in the best ISP and speed that you can swing. I average about 330 Mbps down and 12 Mbps up – the upload speed bare minimum I’d recommend is 10Mbps, so I am hovering at the edge of acceptable here. The issue is for some reason in the US, there is a massive up-charge for upload bandwidth – it’s likely due to the fact that you are either using the network for business or running a small server farm, so ISPs take advantage of that. Since most of us connect wirelessly, I’d also suggest a good wireless mesh network, I’ve been happy with the Eero system. Basically, you never want to be the person with the bad connection or choppy video.
3. Be heard – loud and clear
Get a USB headset with microphone, wireless devices just do not work as good.
4. Bond with your colleagues
This may seem obvious, but having a personal relationship with your co-workers is the foundation of effective communication. Finding a point of common interest is a great way to start. Ask questions and learn about them – take it beyond work, but keep it work-appropriate.
5. Embrace your situation/environment
As a natural extension of bonding with your colleagues – don’t shy away from having your colleagues learn a little about you. For example – I usually do not shut the door to keep my cats out, I welcome them into my home office and enjoy when they make an appearance on a video share – however, be aware of where the line is and that they are not interfering with the task at hand or the level of professionalism needed for the call.
6. Share video
This one is easy – turn your camera on for meetings. Even if others are not sharing, I believe it’s nice to show your face and that your colleagues have your undivided attention. Also – hats are your friend and be aware of your hygiene and what is “in the frame” around you.
7. Over-communicate / collaborate.
When you work remotely, it’s important to be as clear as possible. Tools that help with effective collaboration should be leveraged, Slack and Asana come to mind for general purposes, but also seek task-specific tools that offer collaboration such as Applitools Slack integration or bug sharing features. Angie Jones just wrote a blog showcasing some of the great collaboration features in Applitools – check it out: 5 Visual Testing Features that Foster Collaboration Between Remote Workers
8. Lunch & Air
I am guilty of not always taking my own advice here, but when I do – I always feel so much better. Do your best to take a few minutes, enjoy lunch and even get out for a short walk to change the scenery and get some fresh air. Also, I am a coffee fanatic, but at home, do not drink coffee past 12pm as it could impact that night’s sleep.
9. Office space
If possible, have a dedicated office space. I realize this is a luxury in today’s situation, but if you will be working remotely – it’s helpful to put you into a work mindset and to be able to step away from that mind-set when your work day ends. For almost 2 years, I worked from and lived in a 650 sq ft home with my partner – there was no dedicated office, rather a desk in the kitchen / living room – I am not saying you cannot make it work, I am just saying it’s preferred to have dedicated space.
10. Set boundaries and stop working
I end my day routinely on-time – it’s a schedule and it works for me. There are always exceptions that require an altered schedule, but make sure they are just that, exceptions. Being able to step away, and have an evening routine such as workout, cooking a nice meal, having a glass of wine or all of the above will help ensure you return to work every morning, refreshed, recharged and firing on every cylinder.