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Ask HN: Recommendations for Working from Home?
186 points by otras 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments
I've worked from home occasionally, but only in short stretches where I could get some work done from my laptop at the kitchen table.

With the recent WFH-mandate for my company, my team is now entirely WFH. I've set up a designated space at home to work from with some proper ergonomics, and I'm interested in hearing general advice and recommendations about staying productive, striking the work/life balance, and keeping the casual/social in-person environment alive. Any specific recommendations?

14 years of working from home under my belt. Tried many things during those years and this is whats working best for me:

- my office is separate room that I visit just when I am at work. Kids were born into this situation and understand that this room is off limits.

- Good external monitor, mouse and ergonomic keyboard + good chair. I also like to use headphones when working even when nobody is around.

- I do keep regular schedule: work day starts at 8:00 with 15 minutes walk as my commute to clear my head from life stuff. lunch is at 12:00, I eat it with my wife and kid at the kitchen or we might go out to one of our local bistros just outside our house. I am not required to work like that, but it is just easy to keep in rhythm.

- no video games, no movies, no distraction when working. I might leave for bathroom or to make some green tea, but no procrastinating on my way, no playing with child or talking to my wife is allowed.

- when the day is over, I stand up, go for 15 minutes walk in nearby park (my commute to clean my head after work) and then I am back home.

- when I am done I am done. I might check Slack or emails, but the office is closed and no work is allowed.

It might seen strict, but working this way is actually best for me and my family. Years ago I was not that disciplined, worked a bit here and there, maybe watch a movie mid day and then work till 10pm. Now I just know when I am working and when I am allowed to just turn off.

Just over 4 years for me and I was going to post almost exactly this.

I get up, work out or go for a run, take a shower/get dressed and then make breakfast. Shower and getting dressed like I'm going to work is a really important part. Also I have a rule that I never, ever eat at my desk unless it's absolutely necessary. I sit at the table and read or scroll on my phone.

I try and take a 10 minute break every hour or so to get up, maybe put away dishes, throw in some laundry, something to clear my head up a little bit. I like to make a list of things I want to get done in the morning and chip away at that here and there throughout the day.

When I'm done for the day, I'm done. I get up and go have a beer, take a walk, run to the store, anything to get me out for a bit.

I've found that to be a pretty successful way to manage both time and sanity. You don't want to get in a rut where all the sudden it's Thursday and you haven't showered or left your house.

"You don't want to get in a rut where all the sudden it's Thursday and you haven't showered or left your house."

This is a bigger issue than the non WFH crowd will ever know!

+1 to most of this.

When working from home, my first impulse 10 years ago was to make it "more comfy": working naked, no fixed time table, available for a chat if needed, etc.

It was a mistake.

You do need a schedule. That doesn't mean you can't break it if you need to, that's the perk, but it should be exceptional.

You do need to shower, dress up and be on time. Yeah you can have a few productive days without it. But you'll notice that after a while, the days you get back to the social conventions, you have more focus.

You do need to keep up your habitual defenses against distractions (for me, disabling all notifications and putting a lock on the door as my SO cannot integrate the concept of WFH).

Because humans are creatures of habit. Anything that is an habit is easy to keep up. Everything that is not is an effort. Everything that goes against an habit is a fight.

So working from home means less commute. A more cozy environment. The possibility of going off schedule from time to time.

But that's it.

Work should still look like work.

At least for me if I want to get things done.

> putting a lock on the door as my SO cannot integrate the concept of WFH

I basically had to give up WFH because of this. My family just did not understand at all. And putting a lock on the door is not socially acceptable. If you have a family, especially one of the age to be at home during the workday, it is very difficult to WFH unless they really understand it. A nearby office would have been so much better if I could have managed that.

- White boards and to-do lists, if possible.

- Freedom or similar Internet-off software, if you're the kind of person who is susceptible to such challenges. http://www.paulgraham.com/distraction.html

I've tried white boards few times and it never stuck. I do like to use small paper notebooks, one for each project.

+1 small whiteboards

If your mind wanders while working, quickly write down the smaller tasks you need to do, no matter how small. Keeps focus.

Admirable discipline. Work and Life tend to blend for me. It works just fine, but I truly find that level of separation impressive.

I was in this camp for many many years, especially when I was single I didn't have notion of work and life. When I was in mood I work like crazy, then I might slack a bit or maybe went swimming at 1pm because there were no people. It started to change when I start living with my, now, wife and then it all get serious when we had kids.

They might be tiny, but they do require some structure and habits. I dont know how they do that, but there is going to be some serious door banging at 16:02 by our 16 months old signaling my allotted office time is over.

Children seem to have natural instinct for things like that. Unless homework is involved, that is!

That must be rewarding having a little one literally banging for attention! More good times!

It is! or nerv-wrecking, that depends... You still love the little ones, so!

Keep your "commute". Every morning, wake up, get ready, then go for a walk around the block.

When the work period is over, go for a walk in the opposite direction to "commute home".

Make an effort to say yes to social events (although with coronavirus maybe not so much).

If you live with a partner make sure they know that's it "work from home" not "do chores at home". Although doing a load of laundry is actually a pretty good use of time and a good way to get a quick break every hour for a few hours.

If at all possible, put a door between you and everyone else that is at your house during working hours.

From my experience stressing that you are working from home and unable to do household chores during the day is very important. Sometimes there is this weird switch that happens for partners, roommates, etc that I've experienced when I do not commute to an office daily.

I like the suggestion about commuting by walking around the block, I'll add that.

It took me three re-reads to get that by "stressing" you mean "emphasizing" rather than "being stressed about".

It's because the comment is missing a comma between experience and stressing.

I WFH full time and have been for a while. Here are a couple things I do to stay sane:

- Make part of your home your office. This may sound obvious but do not work in any other part. Do not take your laptop upstairs to sit on the couch for a little. This will make sure that when you are relaxing later, you still don't feel like you are at work.

- Take breaks from time to time. Whether you need to make another cup of coffee or just stretch, don't sit or stand for too long. I always try to get outside and walk too. It's easy to forget to go out and get some fresh air.

- Remember to take time for lunch. I take an hour to eat and attend to any small chores I need to tackle.

- Buy a decent set of headphones to have some white noise or music on if there are distractions around the house.

I hope this helps!

Having a dedicated space makes a huge difference in concentration. However, it also helps you feel relaxed in other parts of the house.

I lived long in a single space studio and worked everywhere in the flat. After a few months I ended up hating just being at home and had to work at coffee places (noisy, productivity killer).

Now I have a slightly larger flat with a designated office corner. Not only it is more convenient, but when I saturate I go to the reading corner and switch off more effectively.

I also found buying a cheap monitor and an external keyboard to plug the laptop a huge productivity improvement.

All good points. I wanted to echo your suggestions on taking breaks. I think WFH can easily cause one to think that they must be active and immediately available at all times to avoid any presumption of loafing. If you feel this way, remind yourself that you're not a robot. You're human and your body and your mind both need periodic breaks from the keyboard and monitor. It's good for you and also good for your employer.

I shared this with my team earlier today. A few suggestions for WFH for a month (lessons learned from working remote 100% in my previous job):

* Avoid working a 12 hour day. This will happen with having no more commute. 9-5 will turn into 7-7. Suggestion: Get an early start to your day but take a few hour long breaks in the middle of your day.

* Also set a hard stop to when you will stop working. Brain chemistry = your productivity spikes a bit around 4pm after the 2pm snooze; making you work longer into the evenings. Set a hard stop for when you are done and don’t look back. My plan is to stop working after walking my dog in the evening.

* Put your shoes on. Working barefoot at home is awesome but the act of putting your shoes on will subconsciously make you more likely to be active and less lethargic during the course of the day.

* Take a shower everyday despite us not being able to smell you on Hangouts ;-) No need to do it in the morning but might be a good way to use your first long break of the day.

* Make some Hangouts/Zoom/WebEx friends - try to do 1:1 sync with someone else on the team (not just your manager) once or twice a week. It’s basically the coffee break conversation with zero risk of virus spreading.

* Make dinner plans (also a good way to force yourself to stop working end of day).

* Ask yourself at the end of each day “when was the last time I went outside” - sounds silly but there was this one time when I had stayed at home for 4 days straight just working and crashing at the end of the day

* Lastly, set aside 1 or 2 spots at home for you to work out of. When you are done with the day, leave those spots. Do NOT work on your couch or bed if that’s where you will be after you’re done working; Will help you disconnect/re-connect in the evenings/mornings,

Not having shoes on is my biggest perk of WFH. I do visit HQ few times a year and spending whole day with shoes indoor is something I can't stand.

It might be subconscious but having some of my 20 years old ripped punk t-shirt, sweatpants and not wearing socks is something that puts me into zone.

That's ok. The goal is to "puts me into zone". For most people who are used to being in the office, the shoes actually help do that.

In my experience the risk of working longer hours is huge. Especially after dinner. You came from the office, have dinner and you're done for the day. WFH, well, you are still somehow at work. Used to be, and still is, the hardest part for me.

Had WFH at least one day per week for close to two years at Amazon and full time since October at my own company.

Funny thing is, I switch workplaces. From the dedicated desk to the dinner table to the living room and back at no particular intervals. Seems to be an outlier, so.

I used to do something similar until I got a standing desk.

Now I just switch between standing and sitting and having a blast.

I've worked from home since 2009. Here's what has worked for me:

- Have a dedicated work space that can be closed off from the rest of the family / roommates / distractions. Bedrooms / kitchens can only work for so long. A dedicated office at home works best.

- Headphones can act like a chain (in a good way) and keep you productive at your desk.

- Keep strict work hours, 8-5 or whatever. No work communications outside of those times.

- Do not set up your work email or messaging on your phone to further enforce strict work hours and differentiate "work" from "life".

- I found no good way of keeping the casual / social in-person environment alive. The reality is that working from home is often lonely and you lose the casual office chit chat. I have filled that newfound spare time with side projects.

1. Do what you do normally for work. If you shower and put on a button up shirt, keep doing that. Resist the temptation to wear pajamas all day.

2. Have a designated working area (to the extent possible) and designated working hours. When that clock hits 5pm, stop working and put away the working area.

3. Take your lunch and any snacks away from your working area, just like you would in the office

4. Outside of working hours, turn off your work apps and any notifications for them (in Android, leverage your Work profile)

5. Limit non-work tasks during work hours. Avoid watching Netflix or starting that home repair project. At the same time, don't guilt yourself if you put in a load of laundry - in the same way you don't guilt yourself if you go to the coffee shop down the street. There's a balance, find it.

6. Use a good chair. If you don't have a fancy office chair, a regular hardback dining room chair is actually a decent replacement for most people.

In my previous job, I worked from home for about 5 years. It was nice.

- If you are allowed to use your own hardware, do so - having a really large monitor and a computer that goes several times faster than an old company notebook reduces frustrating compile times & test runs a lot. Not an issue so much with modern hardware, but still. (Trying to run VMs with EMC Documentum on an overheating Dell notebook with just 4GB RAM was a nightmare.)

- The company's time keeping system was essentially a CRUD app where I would enter the time spent on each project / day, down to 15 minute intervals. I kept a really close eye on those slices of time and differentiated my work/leisure time strictly: "9:00 - 9:15: working on $foo", "14:00-14:30: talking a walk, not working". Keeping exact time meant I had a good feeling that neither my life nor my boss would loose out on the WFH agreement.

- take breaks - the freedom to go for a run or a walk in the forest or just a prolonged siesta is great, even though it means you will have to make up for the time spend on non-works during the day.

- it's good to manage expected online time - no one will be glued to the keyboard in a WFH environment all the time. One colleague liked to sleep long and work late, so I did not expect him to answer mails before lunch. And when the online indicator of Skype (before it sucked) was "away/busy", we would usually not call / interrupt each other.

I've been working remotely for almost 4 years.

- As others have mentioned, wake up on routine. Shower, get dressed, make your coffee, etc., and aim to do this at the same time every day. My wife works 2 days from home and the nights before we tend to stay up a lot later -- it really throws off the rhythm and it's better to not do that.

- Many people have said to make the office space a space you don't go in the rest of your time. For me, that's not an option, since it's the only space I have for my gaming computer and for doing personal work. To cope with this, I change up my office. I have a Bamboo standing desk, so I'll stand while working most of the time and sit while playing games and relaxing. I also use a different keyboard/mouse for the two, which helps to draw that distinction.

- Many have mentioned to avoid distractions, and find something to do in your office when you are struggling with a task, like write on a whiteboard. This is really important and somewhere I still need to improve on. When I get distracted or stuck on a task and need to get away from it for a while, my goto is a snack or a youtube video -- the latter is something you wouldn't really be able to do at work. That being said, a LOT of time is wasted in the office with casual chit-chat, which is it's own coping mechanism. It's important to take breaks just keep it under control.

- I get scolded for checking slack after work by the wife. She's right (as others have mentioned). Have a time where you cut it off otherwise you'll never feel like you're not working.

1. Get up and move at regular intervals. If you can, take a walk, preferably outside.

2. Start your day with something that wakes you up, even if it means you have to get up earlier.

3. Don't ignore your hygiene just because you're home--that's a recipe for lethargy.

4. Avoid caffeine, if possible. When you're stuck at home, it's harder to get over that tired feeling when the caffeine wears off. Since you won't be as active as normal, it'll also be harder to sleep at night.

5. Keep a consistent schedule; don't let your bedtime drift.

6. If you live with other people, make it clear that you're still at work from X in the morning until Y at night, and they should do their best to avoid distracting you. Noise-cancelling headphones help. Chores can be a great way to get some movement in while you're stuck at home, but plan to do them at specific times for set durations, rather than arbitrarily.

7. If you don't have a designated office, try relocating occasionally. Spend some time working in different rooms. As long as you're comfortable with a touchpad, you can use a laptop just about anywhere. You can even get a small folding table and move it around.

8. Try to get as much natural light as possible during the day.

for 1.

Standing desk (adjustable, with electric motor) is great for this. It will take some adjustment but a good headset with a good standing desk will do wonders for your posture, allowing you to pace while you think (I think better when I'm walking or pacing) or during conference calls/standups, look out the window, do a few pushups etc then drop the desk after an hour or 2 and sit for some keyboard/mouse/touchscreen action depending on your work.

Sitting all day is the absolute worst for the human body - lymph system gets listless, joints get stuck, blood doesn't flow as well to the brain and so on.

All disease is cell disease and if a cell can't get rid of its waste it becomes rebellious and cancerous. The lymphatic system is not circulatory and works best when the body is in motion or being massaged.

Oh yea, if you have the $ having a professional masseuse drop in for a 15-min neck and shoulder rub goes a long way, too.

Do not underestimate the long-term negative effects of a sedentary work day on your health, longevity and well-being.

Having a chill pet around like a slacker cat or quiet dog would probably be good for a lot of people, too.

This is not my original idea, it requires some discipline, but I’ve done it at a previous gig and loved the idea:

Assuming you use Slack (or similar) create your own personal (but public) “rubber ducking” channel. Use it to you talk to yourself about everything you’re doing. This helps keeps you accountable to yourself and others, and keeps others in the loop, and provides excellent context for anything you might need to discuss in depth.

Keep normal working hours and if you live with somebody make it very clear that during working hours you are working and not available for doing other stuff.

One thing a friend of mine found he had to do to be productive at home was dressing for work.

He'd worked in an office for 20+ years, and switched to remote. At work he wore a shirt and tie every day for those 20+ years. That was his uniform. Everyone will have a different ritual that switches them from home mode to work mode, but find yours. It will make a major difference for you.

Been working remote for a while (I still like popping into the office here and there). Agree with most of the other comments here. Treat it like you would if you were going into work.

- Take a shower and put on nice clothes that you would wear in an office. Keep the same hygienic routine.

- If you always drink coffee at work do the same.

- After work go to the gym (right now with corvid I suppose that's ill-advised depending on your location) but exercise nonetheless.

A lot of it is tricking your mind to get in a professional mindset. It's not that hard but I would say it takes a little bit of practice and getting used to. Gitlab[1] has posted quite a bit about it and might be worth going through.

[1] https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/remote-w...

Most important thing: Have a cut off time and stick to it. It's tempting to 'keep working for just another minute'. Don't do that.

Lots of great suggestions here - let me add a good set of noise cancelling headphones and a Spotify Premium subscription (or your vendor of choice). Maybe music isn't your thing - a great alternative is 'Spa Type' music or some kind of meditation oriented track. The point of any of this is to eliminate outside distractions (street noises, building noises, people noises, etc).

Personally I like the Beats Studio 3's myself. Noise cancelling at a price point thats not totally insane.

The Point here is not necessarily music but the ability to stop hearing the rest of the world - even when no music is playing. Think of them as fancy electronic ear plugs that can play music if you so desire.

Lately for me it's been FFVII OST :P

I actually feel more productive working from home, much of the time. Fewer distractions.

Consider techniques like pomodoro, both to get you focused and to make sure you're taking necessary breaks. Have a way to exercise and walk around. Keep healthy food at home.

I've been working remote since October.

- focus on what you need to get done for the day, and don't feel bad if you finish early

- assess if your bandwidth at home is sufficient for big uploads, video conferencing, etc.

- get a good router that can handle the load of multiple clients during times your family comes home (e.g. my wifi upload speed went from 20Mbps to 200Mbps when I ditched the cheapest router for a good gaming router)

- schedule out of the house activities, even if it's just going for a short walk

- if you have big downloads to do, kick then off at night so they'll be ready for you in the morning

- check in with your boss to see what core office hours should be online

These guys present a scenario: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW3lhfVpLL4

Does anyone have advice if you live in a small living space? I live in a small studio apartment and don't have the luxury of having a separate room (or even a section of the room) that can exist solely as an office. I have problems with distractions when working at home because of this. Going out to work at a cafe or public place is "ok" normally, but kind of defeats the purpose of not coming into contact with a lot of people.

Think of everything posted as possible suggestions. The need to feel a mental separation between work and not-work is real, but what it takes to feel that separation is different for everybody. Try as many of the suggestions as you can, stick with what's practical, effective, and gives you enough of that feeling.

Having work-specific rituals seems to help, like make an effort to do the usual shower and get dressed even though you don't really have to. Maybe listen to a different genre of music, get lunch from a specific place, etc.

Music can be good for mode switching. I prefer electronic music with no vocals.

Also, get dressed.

I've worked from home full-time in the past. Many of the suggestions about having a work space and keeping a regular routine are excellent suggestions.

One thing I used to do was have regularly scheduled office hours when I would keep a persistent VC up and people could drop in and ask me any questions they had or discuss something with me in "person".

I've been working from home the last couple days in Manhattan, and it's pretty depressing. My apartment is small, there's nobody around since my wife still has to go into the office. And I feel totally out of the loop even with Slack since you're not chit chatting as much with coworkers. I really hope this sooner than later.

1) Decide what you are going to do with the time previously spent commuting. If you previously spent 45 mins driving to/from work, you now can either use that freed up time to work more or to do something else (relax, clean, etc.).

2) Be proactive about taking a walk or working out. If you WFH, you can often barely move all day. You will feel much better if you schedule a walk after lunch or take a break to work out.

3) Don't be afraid to take some 15 minute breaks to read or watch TV (or do something else). While at work, many people stop and talk to colleagues or do other things to relax at various times. You will not get these small distractions while working from home, so plan to take a few breaks.

4) Set your schedule and try to stick to it. If you don't want to work all night, leave your laptop in the home office and don't bring it to the couch.

I've built a library of guides, all public in the GitLab handbook. http://allremote.info/

The one below seems most germane for your particular question.

How to adjust to remote for workers: https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/remote-w...

Remote work emergency plan for leaders/companies: https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/remote-w...

I'd try to keep daily routine close to going to the office. (Especially not working shorter or longer.) Also phone calls are helpful, for most people it's much easier to do phone calls in this setting than in an open office. I think Slack is nice though for keeping a fun atmosphere...

I WFH once a week and as-needed. Starting Monday we are all WFH for 2-3 weeks.

For productivity, I absolutely require either a docking station or some sort of KVM switch setup so I can use a regular keyboard, mouse, and monitor. That, or I just remote desktop right into my secured work device which essentially serves the same purpose. I lock myself in my home office and tell the wife and kids to act like I'm at the actual office.

The work/life balance is actually better because I don't have to commute. Just make sure if you normally go to the gym that you keep that up...assuming your gym doesn't close because of this. The gym seems like a primary place to close down because of this virus.

We use Skype and Teams to keep the chic chat style banter and useless meme-sharing alive and well.

Track your time, automatically. It is very easy to follow a rabbit hole. In a typical office, there is social pressure not to + even if you do so, it is likely that your rabbit hole journey gets interrupted.

For that, there is obviously RescueTime (I use it with Custom New Tab URL Chrome plugin so that with each new tab I have an overview of the last hours), Qbserve (if you have macOS and prefer more privacy), and for open-source: https://activitywatch.net/.

At the same - book some hours without Slack or anything similar (unless you commit these hours to Slack, not deep work).

(I am a freelancer. I mostly work from home. Sometimes I work from an office, and there is a stark difference of the pros and cons of both places.)

We've been working remotely since 2013. Here's a short blog post that we've put together today with input from everyone in our team on what their recommendations are for someone working from home for their first time: https://bugfender.com/blog/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-embra...

Here's also a direct download link to our company handbook with more in-depth tips: https://mobilejazz.com/company-handbook-pdf/

I've worked from home consistently a few times over the last few years, and my suggestions differ from a few of the others around here. I've found that it's what works best for me, so it's what I stick to.

- I do work from my normal desk. At my last job, it was a super big no-no to use your own computer, so I switched the input on my monitor and had my keyboard, mouse, and DAC running through a usb hub I could easily swap to my laptop. At my current job, I just supplied a separate SSD and dual boot. Either way, the point is I have good ergonomics and fantastic peripherals and don't need double space or equipment.

- Find the morning ritual you need to get your head in the game for work; mine is a shower and painstakingly making coffee or espresso.

- House chores are basically off limits. I may load or unload the dishwasher if I get a snack or another coffee, but I do that in our physical office too. It's a 5 minute task at most.

- If anything, feel MORE comfortable leaving your workspace and going somewhere else if you can't get in the groove. I have a bad habit of staying in the office and basically staring at the walls because I can't get my brain in the game some days, yet when I WFH I'm far more likely to catch that 15 minutes in, pack some shit up and head to a local coffee shop and see if a change in venue jump starts something. More often than not, it does.

- Set a timer. If you start at 8 and don't take a lunch, that means your timer should be going off at 4. Pack it up, you're done. Go for a walk or go to the gym and start your evening.

For myself, my partner doesn't bother me during the day; we still chat online even if we're 6 feet apart, but nobody is talking and distracting the other. We don't have kids, so that doesn't factor in for me, but I know some of my coworkers have been struggling badly lately because they don't have a home office and their kids are too young to understand why mommy or daddy can't pay attention to them. I don't envy that struggle; my Bernese Mountain Dog is needy enough as it is.

It’s been almost 2 years of WFH and my observations are: 1. Schedule: You need to have a proper schedule for tasks aligned for the day, working hours (9-5), break, etc. Do follow the schedule strictly. 2. Orientation: Working should be task oriented. 3. Reading: Keep atleast an hour a day for reading on topics related to your profession to keep yourself updated with the market.

Don’t: 1. Do not cater unnecessary calls from friends/families during the working hours. 2. Avoid distractions like movies, games, etc. 3. Don’t extend working hours until there is something urgent. It helps you manage your time.

We made a list of recommendations and best practices for our company, Codacy[1]. Tips to avoid boredom, routine and unhealthy habits:

Leave the house, stretch your legs: Without disregard to government recommendations and instruction and provided that you keep safe from gatherings and other groups, going for a walk to get some sun will help make you happier and clear your mind;

Walking 1:1s: We all love walking 1:1s, and this is a great opportunity to keep doing them, but instead of walking side by side with your teammate, you can do it over a phone call;

Work-life balance: Working at home can make you more productive, but do not forget to set limits for yourself. Know when to finish work and start enjoying your day, even if you do not leave the same physical space.

Home office: Set up a small office at home, preferably in a place where you usually do not use to relax and use it just to work. This way you can have a clear distinction between your workspace and mindset, and your own time.

Virtual coffees: Even if you don’t have a random coffee planned for today or this week, try to connect with your teammates outside of work topics. We are social creatures who need social interactions to be happy. Take this as an opportunity to engage with people you usually wouldn’t.

Do not overuse pyjama days: Although it feels great to work in your pyjamas sometimes, using normal clothes as if you were going to the office, helps to change the mindset from being at home chilling to work mode.

Communicate proactively: We won’t be able to engage with each other on our work interactions in person, so regardless of the tool we use to communicate make sure you keep doing that, proactively, remotely. Be part of what glues us as a company.

1: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nEnE1OYPULy8x0ng5hcuLjoY...

The team at Notion also did a good compilation: https://www.notion.so/Remote-work-wiki-1b21ef5501714fffa9f5c...

Do whatever it takes to get you in the working mood. All tips aim to solve this abstract problem. I used to move all the furniture in our NYC apartment and set up all my monitors, then take them all down and move it all back at the end of the day. Snacking was a problem so I had to meal prep. The funny thing is I don't even meal prep while at the office, but at home I needed to add that structure. Simply put, identify the many dimensions along which you suck at and implement robust rules, blockers, systems or penalties to save you.

Many managers don't actually know how to handle WFH well. To help with the transition we decided to give away our eBook on the subject (which is usually paid). You can download the ePub/PDF here: https://knowyourteam.com/m/managing_remote_teams

Maybe share it internally and see if they change the policy. Getting a new job now might be tricky.

I've worked at home for almost 30 years now - I have 2 rules: - you must get out of your bathrobe by lunch time - you must leave the house every day (maybe not so much during a pandemic)

Been remote working for years. My top three tips for working from home:

- Semi-formal dress up, specially shoes, tricks the mind into 'professionalism'

- Workout, even 15 minutes of exercises have a positive effect

- Take breaks, away from work desk, for lunch or casual phone call


I’ve been working from home since 2006. I learned a lot in that time. I wrote up a bit about what has helped me, maybe it can help you or others - https://accidentaltechnologist.com/remote-work/10-steps-to-s...

Find yourself a quiet corner at home, invest in quality chair, desk and monitors. Keep windows open most of time, fresh air helps to stay concentrated. Block news sites, YT (/etc/hosts) or whatever you use to spend time on a computer.

Dedicate a time slot to go outside, for a walk, do not submit to pressure to keep working a day long.

Lift weights, helps you keep in shape. Invest in a backup internet line, etc.

If you are working on a separate computer (e.g. I got a work laptop and a personal laptop), keep the personal laptop switched off, connect the work laptop to the monitor (s), and keep your personal phone 5 meters away.

Have water/bathroom/coffee/tea/snack breaks every 1 hour.

Unplug PS4, TV, Atari.

If you cannot suffer the silence search for a classic music/instrumental music (whatever soft "elevator" music you may tolerate/like) on Spotify/etc. Find something with 20h total duration, hit the random button, set it on 5-15% volume and let it play.

Edit: I LOVED the "walk around the block idea, I am making it happen!!

Also in the Edit: change clothes, don't wear suit and tie, but don't stay with pyjamas (especially when walking around the block). Wear proper clothes, or at least tracksuit, something other than sleepwear.

Also in the Edit: make sure you check what your camera "sees" in the background, and clean that up.. wall=OK, pile of laundry 3 weeks old= NOT ok

>make sure you check what your camera "sees" in the background, and clean that up.. wall=OK, pile of laundry 3 weeks old= NOT ok

I can only assume that's why Teams has the "blur background" option.

Hi, I just wrote this last night- I even posted it here at HN. Feel free to ask my any questions:


In short: Keep a routine, keep work an home separate as much as possible, wear pants. There's more to it than that of course.

I wrote this up for work http://bit.ly/fb-wfh-tips

My dev team is pretty versed at WFH, but even then it is great to be reminded of these common best-practices. The other target audience is other departments who don't WFH as often.

I worked from home full-time from 1996-2000, part-time from 2000-2005. My main advice would be, "Learn how to go home at night." In other words, if you have an actual home office, close the office door and "commute" home, and leave work behind you. If you don't have a home office, close the laptop instead, again thinking, "I am now commuting home." After reveling in the fact you now have a two-second commute, go do what you do every evening after you get home (presuming you don't just drudge away some more after you get home).

Whatever you do, especially if you work for a global company like I did, don't check email right before bed! Otherwise you will get sucked into this - https://www.xkcd.com/386/ - and won't be able to go to sleep.

In fact, it was after one of those episodes, bored with TV so casually checking email and exclaiming, "How could those engineers in [some city six time zones away] be so dumb?!?! I must stop them before we lose all of tomorrow cleaning up what they're doing!!!", that I instituted the "commute home and leave it behind you" rule. Because it was fine - they weren't dumb, I was misunderstanding something, but the resulting email flurry back and forth got me worked up to the point of not being able to sleep. So I lost all the next day due to bad productivity anyway.

Hi! I work from home for 1 year and a half. I did strict hours, pomodoro etc. but productivity comes with motivation really. If you are not really motivated by your work, then just ship fast so you can be free the earliest possible.

My friend made this newsletter, the "Work From Home Times" if you're interested: https://wfhtimes.substack.com/, which has lots of good ideas and will be updated daily!

The CEO of Basecamp, Jason Fried is giving a rebate to anyone who purchases their book on WFH.


> I've set up a designated space at home to work from with some proper ergonomics

Stick to this place. Don't, for example, move to the living room and work on your lap with the TV going. Once you walk into your "office spot" you should be "at work."

For staying productive as a team, we take advantage of various online team collaboration tools (for example; Miro, TeamSuccess.io, Notion, Zoom...)

Also, we keep regular remote retrospective on how to improve our processes, and daily check-ins on how people are feeling.

A related question, does anyone have good resources on how to set up WFH for a small company from an IT/security perspective? VPNs? Teamviewer to a desktop at work? BYOD or company laptops only? Use the cloud? Help!!!

If you have a company laptop, definitely use it. It will protect you from mixing company and private content. In practice that will save you from cases like "why is confidential information on your private inbox", "why is company accessed by a worm which spreads only via (game you play)", and accidental "why are you watching Netflix via company VPN". It's just not worth the risk to mix contexts. If you need bigger screen, get a bigger screen to plug into the company laptop.

TeamViewer has different use case normally (support with active person on the other end) - look for a better/native remote login solution if you can. Windows remote desktop, or ssh/vnc would be better if available. Alternatively https://www.nomachine.com/ is very cross-platform and works great.

All of the advice here is good but it's also convincing me that I really don't want to be working from home long term - I just need a better office environment and a shorter/more pleasant commute.

It's definitely not for everyone. I've been doing it exclusively for three years, and I love the commute (walk upstairs) and the flexibility. I don't like missing out on deskside chats with co-workers. In my ideal world, everyone on my team would be remote, which, as of today, they will be for the next week, maybe longer.

wrote a post on this last week; hope it helps! https://techblog.operant.io/2020/so-youre-going-to-work-remo...

> WFH. I've set up a designated space at home to work from with some proper ergonomics, and I'm interested in hearing general advice and recommendations about staying productive, striking the work/life balance, and keeping the casual/social in-person environment alive. Any specific recommendations?

Full time remote here. I don't know if this works for everyone but here's what I do and have found to work well enough:

1) I have a dedicated area for work.

2) I have a computer dedicated for work (provided by employer). Also a proper, 30" screen & adjustable desk. I don't use it for personal stuff, and also I don't use personal computer for work stuff.

3) I try to schedule my day as if I were working onsite: I get up in the morning, grab a coffee, and get to work. I'm available and at work during normal office hours, and then I log out and I'm done.

4) I allow myself longer lunch breaks if I don't feel too motivated to work; but I try to keep them under 90 minutes. Usually about 50-75 mins. Wind down with coffee, read HN, maybe put away clothes or do the dishes or something. Don't get into anything too addictive. (At one point I played games during lunch break but I found that to be too addictive and I ended up stretching my break and not feeling rested or relaxed when I finally forced myself to stop and go back to work).

4.5) Two little coffee breaks per day. A third one if I really need it, though usually that's just a coffee I quickly make and drink while working.

5) From day zero, I never gave in to the temptation to start doing non-work stuff at home during office hours. The concern is that it'd just turn into procrastination, and I'd be putting work off, and before long I'd be working late at night to make up for the hours that I put off; that'd eat away my free time and then I'd end up in the dreaded "always at work" situation. I much prefer that I'm done in the afternoon and then I don't think about work at all until next day.

6) When I'm done really am done. I'm logged out, my work computer's screen is dark and I'm not checking on it. (Also it's a different room). Ok, well, sometimes I make exceptions, like if I decide to grab a coffee and heat some food in the oven after work, well, I might just sit back at the work PC and sip away while the oven is getting warm, and chat with colleagues or read up on stuff, maybe merge some trivial pull request. But at that point I'm really not doing any heavy lifting.

Sounds boring? Yeah, that's work :P But anyway, done this way, work/life balance is pretty much exactly what it would be with an onsite job, except that there's no commute, and you can go exercise or do something else with that time. I think that is strictly a win.

Yeah I know it sounds a bit stiff. My hat is off to those who can spend their days very flexibly and work whenever they feel like it, and not feel stressed about the things they've been putting off. I can't, so I'm OK with keeping a very boring and simple schedule.

I'm hoping to improve my morning routine a bit by incorporating some light exercise before work but I haven't gotten there yet. I have to admit I haven't been able shed off all the early morning grogginess when going from bed to coffee to work takes only ten minutes.

As for the social side... well let's just say that I'm very introverted. I do miss meaningful (deep) relationships in my life, but I don't miss the physical presence of colleagues at work; that only drains my energy.

Lock your fridge.

Get a cat.

The need for casual/social environment is largely a myth. For the first 15-20 years of your life a person's ability to survive is based on getting attention from mom and dad. Slowly that fades until people are self sufficient. College students are very "hey look at me!" as they slowly relearn how to get what they need and that holds over into younger oriented workplaces. For the actual process of building value and generating revenue, except for some professions such as sales, interaction can easily be electronic.

My guess is you are an extreme introvert or a recent college grad.

When I switched to working from home five years ago, the biggest thing I missed was random social interaction with other adults.

Sure I have my wife and kids, but my wife has heard all my stories and my kids aren't the right audience for most of them.

Within a short period my work BFF got RIF'd, my job transitioned from +/- 2 office days per week to permanent WFH, and I split with my wife and she took most of "our" social group with her.

As introverted as I am, the sudden and extreme social isolation hit me hard. Then I coped by just making myself get out of the house and being more receptive to random social interactions at stores and whatnot. Made myself pick an interesting meetup to attend every week or so.

Now, with the whole point being to isolate ourselves, I don't know what I'd do if I were still living alone. Group chats and videoconferencing really aren't a substitute for in-person human interaction.

You "missing" something is different than being able to keep a business running and making revenue. We are talking about work here. Now, some people's jobs may depend on their ability to socialize because their position is based solely on social circumstances. Those types of jobs where you can't work from home because you'll lose your job if you don't get enough face time with execs should never have existed in the first place.

Humans aren't robots. Most require social interaction to survive. Sort of like health care. US businesses provide it because the government doesn't, but health care is vital to a functioning business.

Your people need to be healthy to do work. That includes mental health.

You must have a very limited scope of work experience to believe this.

As Jed and Riskneutral already commented, sometimes you need to speak to an adult about whatever.. sports, the weather, a movie you watched, discuss a new food place, discuss a new bar.. anything. We don't live ours lives through Yelp (or whatever app people discover places). Also socializing is a human need literally "since forever". Perhaps you are an introvert, and still at some point even you would have the need to interact with a fellow human.

I get the need to interact, but you can mostly do that via the internet as well. The most difficult part is discussing projects that require significant effort to describe the design or problem because you can't get instant feedback from body language, etc.

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