WFH: Working from home

I have been working at home, full time, for 9 years now. Before that, I had a home office, since I was engaged in a number of remote-work-ish activities, such as my writing, and my work in various open source communities.

As practically all of my friends and colleagues are now working from home – many of them suddenly and unexpectedly – I’ve been thinking about some of the most important tips that I might share with them. I know that a LOT of people are writing blog posts like this, and there’s going to be a lot of overlap.

I’ll start with the most important tip, and you can skip the rest: Set a clear boundary between work and not-work. This boundary is both physical and mental.

If possible (and not everyone has this flexibility in your home) put your work in a separate space from your home. This is automatic when you go to an office. It’s less obvious when your work is now in your home. If you *can* put it in a separate room, you should.

But more important than a physical space is that at the end of the work day, you leave work. If you can close a door, great. That’s best. But not all of us have that luxury. So, at the end of the day, *mentally* close the door. Turn off the computer. Put the papers out of sight. Disconnect. Do not answer email outside of work hours. Do not check your work phone messages. Do not sneak back to your laptop for one more thing. You are home. If you had driven home from the office, you wouldn’t be able to do that. Convince yourself that your 3-step commute is every bit as much of a divider as your 15 minute drive downtown.

The second tip is give yourself permission to be human. When I first started WFH, I felt like I was shirking if I stepped away from my desk to get a drink, or if I chatted with coworkers about non-work topics. But I would do that if I was at a “real” office, so there’s no reason to forbid myself now that I’m not.

And now, more than 10 years ago, there are so many chat platforms where you can connect with colleagues for a virtual water cooler.  Even if you’re an introvert like me, these social moments are critical to staying sane, as well as keeping perspective.

And … that it, really. The rest of it is covered by the many wonderful blog posts out there, but I’d be glad to answer questions.

Oh, and I’ll be giving a presentation tomorrow at work about this, and will post the video here later.

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