According to Flexjobs and Global Workplace Analytics, 4.7 million Americans worked remotely in 2019. Based on the last week alone, this number has grown exponentially.

Since OpenPhone has been a remote team for a year and many of our team members have been working remotely for 5+ years, we thought we’d share our tips for making the most out of working from home.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has created a sudden move to remote work and an unprecedented environment for everyone. It is, by no means, what working from home normally feels like.

We hope we can help you make WFH more productive by sharing our tips and personal experiences.

1. Maintain your morning routine

Stephen Gauthier:

“It’s important to maintain consistency in your morning routine. Getting up and getting ready at a regular hour will help you set your mind for the productive day ahead. Thankfully, there’s no more commute. This means you get on average 32 minutes back to enjoy your breakfast, morning yoga or playtime with your kids.”

2. Harness your productive times

Trinity Harrison:

“Without the constraints of a 9-5 (and without spending hours commuting each day), you can figure out when your most productive work times occur. Are you at your best in the morning? Late at night? Does your mental energy peter out after lunch? Use those down hours for chores and less mentally intensive tasks, and those peak hours to get your best work in.”

3. Set up a dedicated working area

Daryna Kulya:

“It’s hard to be productive when working from your bed or couch (I’ve been there). When you set up a dedicated working area in your apartment or house, it helps you switch on your work mode and focus on the tasks at hand. It also helps you disconnect from work when you’re done for the day and want to relax on the couch.”

4. Eliminate distractions on your laptop

Alexey Naumov:

“Use a different web browser for work or create a separate account in the one you use. While you work, you don’t want to have leisure bookmarks seducing you every time you open a new tab. If you need 1-2 hours of focused work, quit every app that shows badges in the dock. Especially your favorite mail and messaging apps. Or, at least, turn off notifications.”

5. Get the tools you need to be productive

Sergey Kozhukhov:

“Did you use a monitor, external keyboard and trackpad in the office? You might find the adjustment to solely using your laptop tricky. See if you can get them for your home setup. Your employer might be able to cover these expenses. If you’re self-employed, you can deduct them on your next tax return.

If you work in Engineering, Support or QA, make sure you have devices and peripherals to test your software on when you’re home. And that you can keep those devices charged. Speaking from personal experience here. :)”

6. Set up a virtual water cooler

Scott Bennett:

“Working remotely can get lonely. Many people enjoy the camaraderie of working in the office alongside their peers. Just knowing that there are others close by that share your struggles and triumphs can be very motivating.

To replicate this when working from home, set up a recurring meeting using your favorite online meeting platform and invite everyone in your team as optional attendees. You can call this “The Office”, “The water cooler” or anything that fits in with your team culture. It can be a fun place to stop in and share your struggles and triumphs and just feel like you are all in this together.”

7. Give yourself dedicated break times

Stephanie Moothu:

“When working from home, we can get more done as there are fewer distractions. This also means we can get lost in work for hours.

Taking short breaks increases your creativity levels and gives your project the fresh pair of eyes it needs. Give yourself time in-between even just to stretch, drink some water, or step outside for a few minutes and get some air. You’ll notice the extra energy and creativity to help your project.”

8. Use downtime to learn new skills

Daryl Acenas:

“Since you’re saving so much time on the commute, put it to good use. No, scrolling social media feeds doesn’t count.

Take on a new hobby or enroll in that online class you’ve thought about. Your employer might be able to cover the course so it doesn’t hurt to ask. There are also 450 free courses offered online by Ivy League universities so there are no excuses.”

9. Have a clear end of the working day

Mahyar Raissi:

“When you’re working in the office, it’s easy to mark the end of the working day by commuting back home. Since there’s no commute when you’re working from home, you might feel like you’re always working. It can get exhausting and lead to burnout.

Create a ritual that marks the end of the day for you. It can be as simple as putting your laptop away, changing into comfy clothes or taking a walk.”

Do you have tips for working from home? Share them in the comments. We’d love to hear them!

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Co-Founder at OpenPhone. Ukrainian-Canadian in SF. Love exploring new hiking trails.

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