Working from home is far from new, but it is more common than ever. And it seems like it’s here to stay. According to a 2021 report by Microsoft, 67 percent of workers are looking forward to in-person work in some shape or form… but 73 percent of workers want a flexible work environment that allows for and supports full-time work-from-home or part-time work from home setups.
If you’ve ever worked from home — but especially in the past year and a half — then you know firsthand how crucial it is to set yourself up for success. Maybe you’ve invested in a computer chair; outfitted an entire room to serve as an office; or optimized your desk, kitchen table, or your bed to help you stay comfortable and productive. Whatever your method, you’re not alone: Even career experts who work from home have to assess what works for them, and what doesn’t.
Here are four ways that career and hiring professionals follow for their own work-from-home setups — and how they can help you power through your WFH-day, too.
Designate a Specific Space for Working From Home
Whether you have your own home office, or are camping out at the dining room table, having a space where you get into work mode is key. While she is quick to say she isn’t “perfect” at following her own guidelines, career counselor and content creator Jazmine Reed-Clark keeps her work to one of a few designated spaces in her home.
“I thought working from home would be the dream, and for a time, it was,” Reed-Clark, who began working from home full-time during the pandemic, told Apartment Therapy. “It felt like summer as a kid — watching movies at random hours, wearing pajamas all day. But when 2021 crept up, I realized how my apathy toward socialization was reaching an unhealthy level.” Now she makes sure to follow a general set of guidelines during the work week.
Stephanie Alston, the CEO of Black Girl Group who has been working from home since 2015, agrees. She keeps her work to her home office, and extends the policy to school work, too. “Working from home with children, it can be hard to eliminate distractions but I minimize them by designating areas for the children to play or have school so that we do not distract each other,” she said.
Establish a Morning Routine
Raise your hand if you miss the grind of your morning commute. No one? Thought so. But establishing a routine to get into work mode while at home can be highly beneficial — and there’s plenty of space to tailor the plan so it works for you. For Alston, that means getting dressed as she would if she were going into an office. “I also get up and fully dressed in business casual or professional dress daily because I believe even when you are at home you must adapt the mindset to work,” she said.
Reed-Clark also believes in the power of a solid morning routine. “When I wake up, I take our dog (Winslow!) out immediately and do a 7-minute power clean in each room. I have ADHD, so I try to maximize my momentum when I can,” she said. “Typically, after the house is tidy, I get dressed. Nothing fancy; usually shorts, a tee-shirt, maybe some mascara. That morning routine puts me in the mindset of ‘work Jazmine.’”
Find the Tools that Work for You
Fancy gadgets and shiny apps can be nice, but sometimes the best tools to help you power through the work day are the ones you know work. “I stick with Notes and G-Suite,” Reed-Clark says. “However, I LOVE my Calendly account. It’s been so nice to have the help since I service so many clients. Plus I’m able to add-in buffer time between meetings.”
She was also quick to note what apps don’t work for her, or at least hinder her productivity. “I no longer keep email and Slack on my phone,” she said. “It’s truly sickening how much I craved the buzzes, dings, and lit-up screen.”
For Alston, the tried-and-true tools work best. “I am an old school, write-it-down, to-do list kind of woman,” she said.
Remind Yourself of Your Goals
It can be easy to lose motivation while working from home — between distractions and finding things to clean, it seems there’s always something else to do. But staying crystal-clear on your work mission and ideals can help you power through those lulls.
“Working from home hasn’t impacted my day-to-day or my overall philosophy of Black Girl Group,” Alston said of her company, which centers diversity and inclusivity in staffing and hiring at all levels. “My commitment continues to be to bring diverse voices to the table.”
For Reed-Clark, working from home has also crystallized the ways in which such a setup can be the tip of the iceberg for a fulfilling work environment. “Over the last year, I’ve seen more professionals feel empowered to buck the status quo and demand that their employers give a shit about their mental health, flexibility, and DEI,” she said of her clients. “Don’t get me wrong: in a capitalist society, the bar is low for empathy in a corporate setting, but we’re more comfortable questioning (and walking away from) some systems and rules.”