How to Effectively Work From Home: 13 Tips From Team Ocrolus

Before COVID19, only 7% of workers in the United States had the option to work remotely, according to the World Economic Forum. In our current state, telecommuting is not just a perk of working for a progressive company, but a mandate to help contain the outbreak. 


Flipping the switch to work from home full time comes with a unique set of challenges, especially when your workspace is a small New York City apartment – like the majority of our HQ team. 

I wondered, ‘what are some tips and tricks to help the office worker adapt to working from home full time?’ So, I asked a group of people who I know are doing it successfully – my awesome coworkers. 


Below is a list of thirteen tips from Team Ocrolus to help increase productivity and empower you to thrive in your new normal.

 

  1. Keep a regular morning schedule 


Having a morning routine is a natural part of an office worker’s life. Your 30-minute commute and pit stop at your favorite cafe get you ready for the workday, but morning rituals change when you don’t need to go into the office. Not giving yourself enough time between leaving your bed and sitting at your laptop can be shocking. Give yourself time to fully wake up and adjust to the new day before diving into work. 

 

Wake up 30 minutes to an hour early to walk around the house and eat breakfast before settling down for a workday. Keeping a regular morning schedule can help to break up the day and aid in productivity.

– Erica Pena, Senior HR/Recruiting Coordinator

2. Substitute your morning commute with exercise 


Health experts recommend getting an average of 10,000 steps a day to maintain an active lifestyle. The cardiovascular activity we get during a regular commute helps us to meet this goal and get the boost we need to start our day off strong. While in quarantine, find ways to substitute this morning activity with exercise.


“Do some form of exercise, either push-ups, situps, or lunges, before starting anything to recreate the regular physical activity you get during your commute. That’ll give you a slight boost to start your morning.”

– Fedak Arashi, Implementation Manager


3. Create Slack channels to communicate with your colleagues


Even in this digital age, nothing beats in-person communication and physical experiences. Working in an office helps us feel like we’re part of a team and fosters camaraderie that makes work fun and keeps us motivated. 

Group messaging features like Slack channels can substitute this unique type of solidarity. Create Slack channels around specific topics to keep the conversation focused and invite members across different departments who share an interest around the subject matter.


Keep socializing with your coworkers. Our Ocrolus Women Slack channel really cheers me up with the self-care routines and joking around! It’s good to feel like we’re all in this together.”

– Jennifer Carter, Customer Success Associate 


4. Do something that makes you happy 


Don’t feel guilty about stepping away from your computer and giving yourself some downtime. It can be easy to work through the regular breaks you would normally take while in the office. Walk away from your computer and do something that makes you feel good. 

 

Take a break within your day to do something that makes you happy. I have a one hour break daily to meditate and have lunch with my family. That’s how I do my best to stay balanced and focused.”

– Erica Ramirez, Customer Success Associate 

5. Make “to-do” lists to break up your work days 


Create task lists to set priorities for each workday. Free project management tools like
Trello or ProofHub make list creation easy. Completing items on your to-do list on a daily basis will help you move the needle and feel accomplished.

 

“At the end of the day, think about and write down your “rose” and “thorn” of the day. This helps break up the days and gives you an idea of what you want to work on the next day.

– Skylar Buschinski, Sourcer/Recruiter 

6. Prepare meals in advance 


Meal prepping is not just for fitness enthusiasts, but for remote workers, too. Preparing your breakfast and/or lunch over the weekend or the night before saves you time and effort during regular work hours. 


Make some extra blueberry pancakes on the weekend and freeze them. Then during the week you can just microwave them for 30-60 seconds for a quick breakfast.”

– Sylvia Naples, Machine Learning Engineer


7. Practice focus techniques 
 

For those of us who share living spaces with partners, children and/or pets, focusing at home can prove to be more difficult than at the office. Practicing focus techniques like the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, deep work or Pomodoro Technique can help eliminate distractions. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that uses a tomato-shaped timer to break down work into 25 minute intervals, separated by short breaks.


When I struggle with focus I like to use the Pomodoro Technique. This is not practical in an open office with 70 people, but at home, the regular ringing should not be a problem.” 

– Raphael Viguier, Machine Learning Engineer 

8. Separate your workspace from your living space 

Having a dedicated office space helps separate work life from personal life. If you live in a studio apartment, you may not have that luxury – your workspace and living space co-exist. Find small ways to change the ambiance of the apartment when you’re done working. Changing the color of your lights or lighting candles can really transform your space and help you disconnect from work. 

 

“Change your surroundings from work time to off-work time. I put away the computer and monitor each night and light candles to make the apartment feel like home and not the office.

– Christine Ponder Stern, Product and Operations Manager

9. Set real work hours 

Remote workers often put in longer hours than office workers, but it’s important for  your mental and physical health to distance yourself from work. Working nonstop leads to burnout. Enforce a hard limit at the end of the day and communicate your schedule to your team. 


These days are long, and we are all pushing hard, but keeping a schedule is the best way to strike a healthy work-life balance.”

– Sipho Simela, Head of Mortgage Strategy

10. Don’t work in your PJs


Staying in your PJs while working from home doesn’t put you in the same mental state as dressing professionally does, according to a study conducted by
Northwestern University. Getting dressed for the day helps set the tone and get you in the right mindframe for work. Plus, you’ll be ready to video chat on the fly!


“Dress up like you would if you were going into the office. Choose clothing that’s both comfortable and work appropriate.”

– Mavis Meng, Operations Associate


11. Social distance yourself…from the bed

Studies show that work should not happen where you sleep. Working in bed signals to the body and mind that it’s time to wind down. The Division of Sleep and Medicine at Harvard states, “Keeping computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.” 


It is easy to feel down and low-energy these days. Taking an occasional nap is good for productivity (just ask the people in Spain), but the farther you are from the bed, the more productive you will be! That’s why I suggest you work at least six feet away from your bed.

– Erik Morales, UI/UX Designer 


12. Optimize your living space 

Make little changes to your living space to design a physical workspace that prioritizes calmness and comfort. Putting these qualities first will help create a healthier atmosphere and improve your productivity. Now is the time to invest in supplies like a new storage system or monitor to help you stay focused. Increasing natural light and getting some indoor greenery are small touches that can go a long way for productivity.

 

Find creative ways to make the most of the space you have. Don’t be afraid to invest in a few office supplies like a whiteboard or Chrome cast.”

– Ciera Lowe, Data Engineer


13. Use video 


Video platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts help to add a hint of humanity in this time of social distancing. At Ocrolus, we not only use video for conference calls and quick 1:1 catch-ups, but also as a means to connect with coworkers on non-work related topics. Zoom allows us to host virtual team building events like happy hours and trivia nights. Seeing your coworkers’ faces during these digital gatherings serves as a reminder that we’re still part of a collective, and you don’t necessarily need physical face time to get a sense of that.

 

“Engaging with your team and customers through video conferencing helps you stay motivated and keeps your productivity high.

– Elizabeth Sabbatini, Director of Implementations

Are you a FinTech enthusiast who thrives in a fast-paced work environment? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Check out our open positions on our Careers Page.

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