How to work from home: A guide

Feeling uninspired by your 9-to-5 office job? With the right mindset and setup, working from home might help. After all, work can—and should—be rewarding. For some people, this comes from being able to work in a hybrid or remote environment.

In fact, a survey by McKinsey & Company reports that 58% of Americans can work from home at least one day a week—and 87% of those people choose to do so. Learn some of the benefits, obstacles and best practices of working from home.

Key takeaways

  • Working from home comes with potential benefits for both the employee and employer—including increased productivity, cost savings and better work-life balance.
  • A dedicated work space, the right tools and established habits can help remote workers succeed.
  • You can find work-from-home positions by asking your employer if you can work remotely or narrowing your search on job boards.

The benefits of working from home

When it’s done right, working from home might have several benefits for both employees and employers:

Not all jobs are a great fit for remote work. But if it’s an option for you, here are a few tips to help you make the most of working from home.

How to create a functional home office

A designated office space gives you somewhere to work each day—whether it’s a full room or a dedicated desk area. A home office can help set boundaries between your work and personal space and minimize distractions.

Equip your home office with essential and nice-to-have items

As you’re creating an office space, it might help to invest in equipment that makes your space comfortable and productive. Some essential and nice-to-have items to consider purchasing are:

  • Desk with plenty of room to work
  • Ergonomic desk chair
  • Good lighting
  • Strong and secure wireless router
  • Ample screen space, such as a second monitor
  • Reliable video camera and microphone
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Notepad or whiteboard
  • Plants and other home decor
  • Coffee maker or mini fridge

Talk to your employer before purchasing home office equipment. They may be able to supply you with some of these items or offer you a stipend.

Secure your home network

When working from a home office, it’s important to follow cybersecurity best practices. Start by securing your home network with a password or directly connecting to an ethernet cable. Check with your company about its rules too. Some might require you to sign in through a virtual private network (VPN). Knowing your employer’s security guidelines for updating software, using secure passwords and safeguarding data is also important.

8 productivity tips for working from home

Here are a few tips to help your productivity while working remotely.

1. Establish a schedule

Flexibility is an advantage of working from home. But sticking to a schedule can keep you in the right mindset. This could include starting your day with a routine like exercising, taking your dog for a walk, dressing in nice clothes or reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee. It’s also helpful to have set working hours so your co-workers know when they can reach you.

2. Minimize distractions 

Try to avoid introducing distractions to your work space. Consider putting your phone out of reach, signing out of your social media accounts and avoiding television. You could also set expectations with other members of the household for when to keep the house quiet.

3. Take breaks

Taking breaks throughout the day helps prevent staring at a screen for too long or sitting for prolonged periods of time. You could pause to stretch your legs, make lunch, get the mail and so on to get your blood flowing.

4. Plan your daily tasks

What’s on your to-do list for the day? Do you have any virtual meetings or project deadlines? Take a few minutes to write down daily tasks. Checking these items off throughout the day can keep you on track and bring a sense of accomplishment.

5. Make a playlist

Background music might help increase focus and improve your mood. Try creating or searching for playlists featuring genres you enjoy. You can cycle playlists throughout the week to prevent getting bored of the same music on repeat.

6. Work from a new location

If you need a change of scenery, try visiting somewhere new to work from virtually. Many coffee shops, public libraries and coworking spaces have public internet access. Just be sure to follow your company’s security policies and avoid sending sensitive information when working on an unsecured network.

7. Stay connected with your team

To avoid feeling isolated, you can find creative ways to stay connected with your colleagues. Try setting up video chats or messaging online. Not every meeting has to be business related—your team could schedule fun remote activities that help foster communication.

8. Set work-life boundaries

It can be hard to shut down for the day when you’re working from home, but it’s important to set boundaries. Work hours and personal time don’t have to blend together. Avoid checking your messages or emails when you’re offline—especially during vacation or time with friends and family.

How do I start working from home?

Remote and hybrid work are pretty common these days. But if you’re trying to make the switch, there’s a couple of ways to go about it. It just depends on what you do—or want to do.

Talk to your current employer

If you’re happy with your current position but work in an office full time, consider asking your employer if they’re willing to let you work remotely. Not all positions can be performed from home, but it might be worth brainstorming with your manager.

Search online

To find a new, remote position in your industry, you could look at online job boards and listings. When searching for jobs, try targeting your keywords and filtering the results for categories like “work from home,” “remote” or “telecommute.” There might also be ways to work for yourself and make money from home.

How to work from home in a nutshell

If you’re considering working in a hybrid setting or fully remotely, you might find it helpful to set up the right environment and habits. Not all jobs are suited for working from home, but talking to your employer or searching for remote jobs could be a good solution.

A cash back credit card allows you to earn back a percentage of your purchases—including on home office supplies. Consider applying for a cash back credit card to get rewarded for every dollar you spend.

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