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On working from home

Stefan Velthuys Avatar

Since we are a remote company, everyone is free to choose wherever they want to work from. In my case, that’s mostly my home office. I’ll share some tips which help me getting work done, while balancing the whole life-part.

tldr; Dress for the office, focus, take breaks, eat lunch, meet friends.

My home office situation

I have a dedicated room which serves as my office, see my desk in the picture above (yes, the floor is a little crooked). My home office provides a desk, a chair, a big screen for my laptop and even a small cabinet with files. OK, these files in the cabinet aren’t related to our company. Those are personal files like tax returns, bills and insurance related letters. Still, pretty office-y.

I’m often asked how I could possibly work from home without drifting off doing something else. I have some rules/tips which I’ll share here.

Some situations

There was this piece in the New Yorker: I WORK FROM HOME
This article is funny, a bit over the top and overall a very entertaining read. But there are parts in it, which I’d like to address from my own perspective, because I’ve seen people fall into some of the traps.

I’ll quote some of the statements from the fictional conversation and provide some tips how I avoid these situations.

Situation 1

ROBERT: I’m walking over there. (Pause.) O.K., I’m here. I’m in the bathroom. I see my towel . . . .
(Muffled sobs.)
ROBERT: It’s dry.

Tip: Take a shower before work, just as you probably would if you’d go to an office.

Situation 2

OPERATOR: Outside clothes or inside clothes?
ROBERT: Hold on, I’ll check. (Pause.) Pajamas. I’m wearing my pajamas. I could swear I’d changed into regular . . . I thought these were jeans!

Tip: Always dress like you go to a real office.

Situation 3

OPERATOR: I’m afraid not. (Pause.) I’m going to ask you to open the blinds, O.K.? Let’s go ahead and let some light in.
ROBERT: How much light??

Tip: Take breaks outside. Get a coffee, take a walk. Even before you start working.

Situation 4

OPERATOR: Now, Robert, did you eat anything today?
ROBERT: Yes. Many times.
OPERATOR: Are you eating now, Robert?
ROBERT: I keep putting things in my mouth a lot.

Tip: Eat lunch. Take your time to cook something or go to a restaurant (with other people).

Situation 5

ROBERT: The Internet has fun things for me to do . . . so I did them. (Pause.) I think I played some guitar, too . . . oh, and I separated all the dimes from my change jar, which took a while.
OPERATOR: Why did you do that?
ROBERT: I have four hundred and seventy-nine dimes.

Tip: Focus. Define time blocks where you want to work and do just that.

Side-tip: Use your work breaks for errands. Take a 15 minute break from work and get groceries.
Sometimes, I even clean or dust off my apartment, while on a (internal) call. This only works, if I don’t have to be in front of computer. Most of the times, I’m even more attentive to the call, because I’m not distracted working on something else.

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