How to Work From Home: A Comprehensive Survival Guide

Grace Pinegar
Grace Pinegar  |  July 31, 2019

I started at G2’s (then G2 Crowd’s) Chicago office in October of 2016.

I relocated to our New York location in March of 2019. It is an office of one, and it’s in my living room. That’s correct — I left the comforts of our snack-filled, cold brew-infused, high-rise Chicago office and traded them in for a 30-second morning commute. There were a few things I learned along the way. 

As the first member of our content marketing team to transition from being an in-office employee, to a full-time remote worker, I’d like to think I have a few inside tips to offer those interested in making a similar change.

Related content: 5 Culture-Building Tips for Remote Teams

While working remotely is not always as glamorous as it sounds, it has significant perks. In this article, I’ll go over everything I think you need to know about working from home that other publications might not tell you.

This is part 1 of The G2 Guide to #WFHWeek.

How to work from home

I’ve been working from home for about six months now, so I know there’s still much to learn. But I like to think of myself as an observant, critical-thinker who can soak in a lot of information in short amounts of time.

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Therefore, I feel qualified to lead my other work-from-homies into success. Use the following tips as a survival guide of sorts, written to help other remote workers learn from what has worked, and what has failed miserably, from the perspective of one content marketer who is frankly surprised at how well this has worked out so far.

Have a routine

This is, perhaps, one of the most basic tenants of work from home advice, but it bears constant repeating: HAVE A ROUTINE.

I mean it. When I first started, I was so ecstatic at the thought of being able to sleep later every day (re: no hour-long commute) that I went to the other extreme and slept until it was time to open my computer.

morning routine

Image courtesy of 21 Day Hero

This snowballed into unhealthy habits of watching my programs well into the night, snoozing dozens of alarms, and eventually rolling groggily into my work station just in time for morning meetings. While this may work for some, it was a recipe for depression for me, it exacerbated my anxiety, and overall perpetuated an unhealthy lifestyle.

So, verily I say unto thee: have a routine. Have a bedtime. Have a wake-up time. Wake up early to start your day off right, whatever that means to you. Go to a yoga class, spend half an hour reading a book, cozy up with your homemade green tea, journal, walk the dog. Do what it takes to feel like there’s a semblance of structure in your day.

Oh, and brush your teeth before you drink your coffee. Every day. Just trust me on this one.

Get out of the house

This may sound counterintuitive to the purpose of “working from home,” but you need to get yourself out of the house a few days a week. I’m not talking about social engagements, although we’ll discuss that later.

I’m saying to find a coffee shop, co-working space, or library where you can concentrate and make it your “spot.” Even if you’re not talking to people — as you would be throughout the day in an office — it’s helpful just to be around them.

work from a coffee shop

As I learned from the latest season of Handmaid’s Tale, “isolation breeds despair.” As comfy-cozy as it sounds to be working from your kitchen, your couch, your bed, it’s not a great idea to spend so much time holed-up in one place. I mean, have you seen The Shining?

So adjust your budget for a few lattes each month, and head into town. Again, you’ll thank me later.

Prepare for meals

A lot of companies (G2 included) are stacking their offices with copious snacks, catering in meals to employees to encourage teams to bond, and reducing the need for employees to spend an hour in line ordering a salad down the street.

As a remote employee, I no longer have these benefits. Everything I eat comes from the time I spend grocery shopping. I’ve found I have to be a lot more proactive about mealtime. The alternative is to forget to eat, become “hangry” at around 2 pm, and get absolutely no work done for the rest of the day.

work from home meal prep

Meal preparation is related to having a routine, but I think it warrants its own section. Instead of panicking and postmating pasta every day (don’t assume it hasn’t been done), plan meals beforehand.

This doesn’t mean you need to have all of your meals made outside of work hours. Just make sure you’ve acquired all the ingredients/supplies you need to sustain your body before the work week begins. It’s okay to spend your lunch hour cooking; just have advance knowledge of where your food is coming from.

You’ll find this saves you significant time, money, and frustration down the line!

Create a work-designated space

If I work in my bed, I’m taking a nap. That’s just the truth on that. Which is why, as soon as I moved into my new place, I set up a work desk that houses my monitor, notebooks, and other office-related supplies.

This makes me feel like I have a spot to go to every day that’s specifically for work. I also feel this distinction keeps my brain from viewing my entire apartment as a workspace. That’s not to say I don’t sit on the couch and send outreach emails.

home office

My home office will never look like this but maybe yours could

Rather, it means a small corner of my home is designated for “work-only,” and I can easily plop down there any time I need to set up for some serious focus.

Sidenote: If you live with other people (spouses, family, roommates), make sure they know that, while you’re home, you’re working from home. This is especially important if your work space is in a shared area of your home.

Have hobbies

This is just general advice that I relay to anyone, regardless of working status: have hobbies, interests, and plans. Few things feel more isolating than working at home all day and hanging at home all night. I’ve gone full days before without speaking to a single human face-to-face and, as an extrovert, those days are tough.

hobby ideas

Have a reason to leave your house a few nights a week, whether for a cooking class, an improv show with friends, or a bike ride down a nearby trail. It doesn’t always have to be fancy or expensive. We’re all hustling and I won’t pretend hobbies are cheap.

But I don’t just want you to survive working from home. I want you to thrive in it. Especially if you plan on working this way for an extended period of time, it’s important you take some extra measures to ensure it’s sustainable.

Other thoughts

Those are my main takeaways, but here are a few other thoughts worth sharing, in no particular order:

  • If your team uses Slack, or some other communications tool, you should, too. I’ve used Slack every day as a way to keep up with my colleagues and feel as though I’m getting some social interaction.

    How do you rate this software?  Review Slack Now →
  • One benefit of working from home is flexibility. If your job allows, don’t be afraid to take a 20-minute breather here and there to walk your dog, get a haircut, or go switch over the laundry.
  • If you have other friends who work from home, try coordinating your coffee shop days so you can go together! Having an accountable friend there will keep you on track and help you feel less isolated from your colleagues.
  • Remote employees still get sick and take vacations, just like everyone else! Be careful of overworking yourself during your downtime simply because it’s what you’re used to.
  • If all else fails, adopt a dog.

Thriving, not surviving

If you ever feel a bout of the work-from-home blues creeping in, don’t let those feelings convince you you’re a failure, or that you need to quit your job and rush back into the nearest corporate office.

Catch those feelings early. Change up the routine. There are plenty of things you can do to improve your life as it is.

To learn more about work from home opportunities, check out What Is Freelance with common job examples. 

Grace Pinegar
Author

Grace Pinegar

Grace Pinegar is a lifelong storyteller with an extensive background in various forms such as acting, journalism, improv, research, and now content marketing. She was raised in Texas, educated in Missouri, and has come to tolerate, if not enjoy, the opposition of Chicago's seasons.