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Working from Home: A Survival Guide

Published on: 04 / 06 / 2020

Working from Home: A Survival Guide

Recently, most of us have had our daily routines upended, forced to embrace a “new normal” in our lives. For many professionals, this means shifting 9 to 5 work from an office full of coworkers to their more solitary homes – maybe even for the first time!

Efficiently working from home can come with a steep learning curve at the beginning. How do you separate work from your personal life, how do you stay focused, and when should you take breaks?

While change can be stressful, your daily work routine doesn’t have to be. Take it from us, we hired our first remote team members in the early 2000’s and now, nearly half of our permanent staff is remote, giving us the ability to draw from the most talented individuals regardless of geographic location. Our collaboration process, supported by technology, makes our remote staff feel productive, efficient and very much a part of the team.

Read on for The McBride Company’s best tips for how to survive working from home from some of their remote staff.

Marisa Gauss, Architectural Designer Southern California Remote employee for 6 years

“Have a designated work space and stick to a schedule. Start working around the same time every day, end the day around the same time every day, and take a lunch break the same time each day. It's easy to want to keep working because your office is your home. Or the opposite – it's easy to get side tracked without a routine. I like making to do lists of tasks I need to accomplish every day.

As much as possible, set boundaries with family and friends to maintain a work structure. Often times because people know I work from home, they think I am available 24/7 to chat or hang out. I'll usually let people know that I'll call them back after work or that we can meet up after 5:30.”

Alicia L'Heureux, Interior Designer Salem, Massachusetts Remote employee for 2 years

“Set up a space that is away from where you wind-down – it’s important to have differentiated spaces so you can relax after work and be fresh for the next day.”

Johnnie Rush, Chief Business Innovation Officer Orlando, Florida Remote employee for 4 years

“Prepare yourself for a massive increase in efficiency and productivity – it's amazing what you can accomplish when you're removed from the archaic corporate dependence on pointless meetings, redundant communication, competitive positioning and one-upmanship. Creativity and ‘emotional ownership’ is evidenced in a motivated, well-managed and talented staff!”

Kristina Odell, Interior Designer Chicago, Illinois Remote employee for 3 years

“Stick to a routine and keep yourself to a schedule, know when to start and when to log off!”

Colin Bright, Creative Signage and Graphics Designer Northfield, Vermont Remote employee for 5 years

“My biggest tip for success is finding a schedule that's easy to keep consistent and takes best advantage of what life in the house actually looks like. I've got two kids at home (we were homeschooling even before they shut down schools here), so my most productive hours don't always fall between 9 and 5.

For me, it means getting up at 5 so that I can get in a couple high concentration hours before everyone else is awake so that interruptions throughout the day don't leave me feeling like I'm behind the eight ball.

Also, (especially in creative fields) maintaining a professional network through trade organizations (like AIGA, AIA, etc.) can help to fight feelings of isolation.

Also, also, (while I'm oversharing) regular exercise is absolutely vital!”

Brenda Grady, Senior Signage and Graphics Designer Milton, Florida Remote employee for 16 years

“If possible, set up your office in a private, quiet space away from the main living area of your home, so you aren't interrupted by other family members while you're trying to work. A room with doors that can be shut is ideal for conference calls and an area with natural light and a dimmer switch on overhead office lighting can be convenient, in addition to a desk lamp.

It's critical to have a good, secure internet connection that's dependable – this is basically your lifeline when you work from home. Internet speed (and computer virus protection) is important for the ability to upload and download large files safely, as needed. Use portable hard drives for added flexibility between devices. If possible, have a battery back-up in place for times when the power might fluctuate or go off.

Lastly, be sure to take several breaks during the day away from the computer, stand/go for a short walk, or use a treadmill or do a few stretching exercises. Use a comfortable, ergonomic office chair, and avoid sitting for long extended periods of time – it's not good for you.”

Jason Bogdanowicz-Wilson, VP of Architecture and Interior Design Schenectady, New York Remote employee for 9 years “Take advantage of the many collaboration tools that are out there. Working remotely makes communication with your team even more important than ever. Utilizing Gotomeeting, BIM360, and BOX allows our team members to work on projects together, and communicate our ideas to our team and clients.”