Skip to contentSkip to search

How to work effectively from home

Corporate health · May 1, 2020

Those who are new to working from home may be finding it difficult to concentrate, stay motivated, or simply get into a good groove outside of the office. There are certainly unique challenges to #WFH, but these strategies can help you establish a new work “culture” and help you thrive at home — professionally and personally.

Set up a proper workspace

Take advantage of a quiet area of your house to set up your workstation. It doesn’t have to be fancy — a spare guest room, a rarely-used basement, or even a free corner of your bedroom will do the trick. If your only option is to set up at a dining room or kitchen table, clear the space of clutter and do your best to set up your desk items similar to how you’d have them at the office. Adding a nice candle, diffuser or fresh flowers to your new space can also be a great mood-booster.

Most importantly, prioritize ergonomics by avoiding sitting on the couch or bed while working. Try to maintain these basic principles as well:

  • Find a table/desk that allows you to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your elbows at about 90 degrees (the desk height should hit at just below your elbows while in a seated position). Use a pillow or folded blanket or towel under your seat to prop yourself up if needed.

  • If your feet can’t touch the floor, use an ergonomic footrest, a low stool, or even some large books to bridge the gap.

  • If your chair lacks lumbar support, consider using a pillow, or rolling a small blanket or towel to place at your lower back.

  • Your computer screen should be positioned at an arm’s length distance with the top of the screen at — or slightly below — eye level. If you have a separate keyboard, you can prop your laptop up on a box or stacked books to achieve this proper height.

  • Even with a perfect set-up (which will be unlikely at home), stand up and move around or stretch at least once per hour.

Focus on routine

  • Set regular working hours. This may continue to be your usual 9-5, or you may take the opportunity to be more flexible. Whatever you choose to do, commit to specific work times in order to create boundaries for yourself.

  • Maintain a daily schedule. This may be a prime opportunity to start your day with exercise (like a yoga video or a walk outside), dive into work for a few hours, have lunch with your family, work for a few hours again and then take the time to cook dinner. Do your best to plan out your day and stick to a schedule so that the hours don’t slip away from you with little to show for them.

  • Plan meals and snacks ahead of time. If snacking and preparing meals throughout your working hours is taking up too much time (or is too much of a distraction), consider prepping and portioning them in advance as if you’re taking them to work. This can be especially helpful for those of us who tend to munch mindlessly when we have unlimited access to food.

  • Try dressing the part. If you find yourself feeling a little lazy, staying in PJs all day could be the culprit. Showering and dressing “for work” in the morning as part of your new daily routine can create a major mindset shift. (Although feel free to take advantage of the opportunity to be more comfortable!) The key is to still “get ready” for work, so that you can feel like you’ve transitioned into work mode.

  • Ease into work mode. It can be hard to switch your brain to focus mode, especially if you have noisy kids at home, or if you’ve just finished scrolling through all the latest COVID-19 updates. As you begin work for the day and when you start back at it after breaks, make the first task or two relatively low-effort — like answering a few emails, completing data entry, or chatting with a colleague about plans for the day.

Make the most of It

Consider the many advantages that working from home can provide. No time spent commuting or stuck in traffic, access to your own fridge and cupboard for healthy meals and snacks, the opportunity to throw in a load of laundry or unpack the dishwasher on your mini-breaks, and maybe even the chance to spend more time with your kids, spouse, or roommates.

Remember to focus on the positives, maintain a routine to keep distractions at bay, and reach out for support if you find yourself struggling.

Authored by:
Andrea Stokes
Registered dietitian and wellness consultant, TELUS Health Care Centres