Companies around the globe have rolled out mandatory remote work. Whether you’re a newbie or WFH veteran, here’s what you need to do to stay productive.
And it’s realistic to assume that shifting to the ‘home office’ will become the new normal for many of us for a while, given Wednesday’s announcement by the World Health Organization that the coronavirus has officially reached ‘pandemic’ status.
Declutter and Minimalize
Consider it a capsule office. On the road you won’t have everything at hand or a plethora of gel pen options (or the space for it), so decide on what’s absolutely critical to always have with you. For me it’s my Macbook Air, iPad, smartphone, camera, chargers, portable modem, two pens and a notebook – keep it light! I have a MacBook Pro as well but when traveling, the thin and lightweight nature of the Air is heaven. Storage-wise, be sure to take time once a week to tidy documents and applications and axe any unnecessary data on your devices.
Identify Your Ideal Work Setting
Decide where you feel most comfortable setting up your workspace and be sure you can find it every day. Strangely for me, it must be in a public setting. I thrive on the smell of coffee and chatter as background noise, so cafés are usually always my go-to spot. If I’m feeling particularly exhausted or jetlagged, I’m fine with writing into the night in my hotel room. Figure out where you love to work and regardless of where you are globally, map out a few options you can count on.
Choose Your Work Bag Wisely
Your shoulders and back will thank you. I used to transport EVERYTHING daily in a basic Longchamp bag – it wreaked orthopedic havoc on my back and shoulder (which made for an elderly appearing 25-year-old). Choosing a bag is highly personal but I find a large purse with a crossbody strap is the perfect strike between chic and practical. Backpacks are theoretically better, but I yet to find one which splices with my personal vibe. Find what you’re comfortable carrying daily and make sure it’s a match for your style and gadgets.
Set Aside Hours for Calls and Meetings
When mobile, it’s important to designate a certain amount of hours per week to conference calls and touch bases. Instead of maniacally searching for those hours in the middle of your week, communicate to your team and clients the hours and which day(s) you’re available. Plan on spending these few hours weekly in a quieter place with a stable and strong internet connection. Urgent and unexpected meetings will always pop up, but when the majority are planned and routine, it won’t be as stressful.
Keep Your Cords in Order
At this point you should institutionalize me for the level of OCD I have with my cords. Minimalize the amount of cords and chargers in your bag to the absolute mobile essentials. For me, I couldn’t be connected without: my portable charger with USB port, a computer charger and an international power adapter. Be sure each has a special place in your bag so you never leave them behind.
P.S. For the sake of all the OCD types in the world, keep cords knot-free.
Few rookie mistakes rival the loss of a connection during the middle of a call or important task – it’s 2016, don’t let it happen to you. While I spend the majority of my time in cafés with free WiFi, I usually find these connections spotty at best for the nature of my work and the security dismal; hackers usually troll popular spots to hack user data. This is why I use a portable travel modem wherever I go. Don’t have one yet? Verizon has with 4G speed.
Embrace the Cloud
I’m the first to admit that Google Drive is my best friend. From assignments and important contacts to editorial calendars and daily schedules – it’s all in my beloved Google cloud. Not only is this a simple way to secure documents, but it’s also a brilliantly simple method to keep them organized and accessible. I have my Google Drive synced across all my mobile devices, making keeping up with documents and schedule easier than ever. Find a cloud that works for you and build your document library there; this is also great for maintaining roomy computer storage and a happy startup disk.
I am devoted to all my rituals and unpacking is undoubtedly one of them. I love the satisfactory feeling from unpacking my bag after a long day and neatly putting it back again in the morning. This eliminates the feeling that I work out of my purse and helps me separate my day from my freelance time. This is also a great approach to prevent the buildup of receipts, boarding passes, hair bands and bobby pins in your work bag – we’re all guilty of it.
Staying inspired is imperative for every creative type. Unlike the morning commutes to the office perusing Pinterest and Twitter, digital nomads need to carve out that time actively. I always bookmark three to five blog posts, industry news or travel articles to read for 30 minutes every morning alongside my almond milk latte. This is completely separate from research and social media hours and gives me an outlet to absorb new ideas. If music is what inspires your workflow, be sure to have Spotify or your iTunes library updated with your latest musical fuel.
When you work from home, you get to be in control of your time and your diet. You can sleep later because your office is right in the next room. You’re more productive because you aren’t wasting an hour in the morning putting on makeup, choosing an outfit, and making your lunch.