Did you hone your working from home skills over the past year?

Millions of us were forced to work from home abruptly, with little to no preparation. I quickly wrote my 7 best practices in working from home last March. I still receive feedback from many of you that you reread the list or keep it at your home desk.

None of us share the same experience in working from home but all of us can learn from one another to improve our past year and continue to grow professionally in our routines, whether it's working from home permanently or have a hybrid set up with limited in-office days.

To read more of Katie Pinke's The Pinke Post columns, click here.

For some, you loved working from home initially but working at home, forever, now feels daunting. I asked a few colleagues and on social media about their best practices and tips for working from home. While I’ve experienced numerous scenarios in my career through different, flexible employers, I continue to grow as a work-from-home professional, learning from others' experiences.

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Here is 9 additional work from home best practices to consider implementing in your routine:

  1. A good desk chair. I use a balance ball chair which I’ve found is ergonomically best for my posture, benefiting my back and core.
  2. Organize your workstation. Have everything you need in your designated workstation or home office. If you’re going to have a hybrid routine, keep both desks with the basics of what you need to be successful and not distracted by forgetting something at the other location. I’ve read about “hot desking” meaning your desk won’t be assigned in your office. If that is your situation, have a larger bag or backpack set with all essentials needed for transition between your home workstation and office workspace.
  3. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb when your workday is done. Allow yourself to end the workday. I mute social media notifications and sounds on my phone much of the time but putting it on do not disturb is a useful tip and will allow me to focus on my kids and family commitments in the evening. Also, shutting down your computer helps you to resist returning to working more when you’ve completed your full workday at home.
  4. Time block. My day consists of numerous video meetings and an increase in email communication or virtual chat rooms. To successfully complete work tasks and accomplish goals, I need to time block in my calendar to meet deadlines. Set your own work deadlines and block them into your day, away from scheduled video meetings, email and chat notifications.
  5. Structure your day and weeks. Keep a calendar with your time blocks in them but also for your family schedules, outside of work. Plan your days. Zero commute means more efficient time planning. I’ve heard this from colleagues and connections that finding you’re dressed for work, feeling prepared and structured increases efficiencies, not only in your work but for your personal time. I still keep a wall calendar but with everyone having a device with a calendar on it, I created a shared family calendar that my girls, ages 11 and 13, can see and they can add to it. As their schedules fill, we have a shared calendar to see our school, work and family schedules.

  6. Set one home goal for yourself a day. Instead of a work coffee break, write down and accomplish one simple home goal. Prep a meal in a slow cooker. Straighten up a closet. Put away the winter coats and bring out the spring coats. Finish washing the breakfast dishes. Pick the blooming tulips and create a bouquet for your desk. Your home goals vary from mine but utilize a break to help you free up more time for yourself after work or on days off.
  7. Ask for and employ help. Childcare help, a cleaning service, laundry pickup and delivery, online grocery delivery, you determine what best benefits your work from home or return to work routine. You don’t need to be and cannot be everything to everyone. Find what help or services best assist you to maneuver through your work and home routines.
  8. Power nap, yoga or fresh-air walk. My husband never stopped going to work. He takes a one-hour lunch break, eats and rather than my noontime walking, he sleeps for 15-20 minutes and rarely misses his lunch power nap. A short nap refreshes him, ready for his afternoon into the evening of work. During distance learning of the past year, our 13-year-old had me do my first-ever lunchtime yoga with her, which I continue to build into some workdays. Most days, I take a power walk, for fresh air, no matter what most North Dakota temperatures or wind speeds are, my work from home sister-in-law frequently joins me.
  9. Share and show appreciation for the opportunity to work from home or have hybrid work options. Communicate your appreciation to your manager/employer for keeping the opportunity to have a flexible work opportunity. While the abrupt changes of a year ago led millions into work from home routines, post-pandemic work-from-home routines are here to stay for many of us. Appreciate the new routines you've honed and continue to seek growth in 2021.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at kpinke@agweek.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.