After working from home for over 13 years, we know a thing or two about it (and we also homeschool!).

As the majority of the population that is used to working out of the office is now turning to remote work to maintain through the global coronavirus pandemic, an increasing number of people are struggling to adapt to the work-from-home lifestyle. Working from home is not for everyone, and it is certainly not for the faint of heart. For those who haven’t chosen this path, it can be even more difficult to adjust. Whether you’re just trying to improve your productivity or you’re struggling to even figure out how to get started working remotely, you’re in the right place.

Our agency is built on a team of professionals spread across the country, all working remotely to make the Words You Want machine run as it should. We understand, better than most, the ins and outs of remote work, including environmental adjustments, scheduling and productivity issues, and even things like handling technical difficulties and technology failures. We did a little asking around, and according to our team, the tips below are the most valuable ones for those new to the world of remote work.

Tip #1: If you aren’t working a set schedule, make one immediately.

Anyone working from the convenience of home will tell you that a schedule makes all the difference in their day-to-day success. Some people who are coming into the world of remote work will have scheduled work hours that they must be present at the computer or by the phone. Those who don’t, however, will easily be overwhelmed by the amount of “free” time that they have and often forego working to get other things done.

It’s easy to get off track if you don’t have a plan in the first place. Whether you are writing, consulting, providing customer service, developing software, or even selling real estate, you need to have a schedule if you are going to succeed at working from home.

Tip #2: Put your personal phone on “Do Not Disturb”

While it’s tempting to be able to answer all those personal texts and calls during your “work hours”, smartphones are the leading cause of distraction and lost productivity for remote workers. Nothing is easier than logging onto Facebook for “a quick second” and coming out two hours later, having no idea what you just spent 120 minutes of your life doing. Distractions are a big part of remote work and managing them is now up to you. You’re no longer in a controlled environment—you have to create that environment for yourself.

In the event that you have to use your personal phone for work-related business, set up a special exception for work use. Better yet, get a separate phone or a landline for work calls so that you don’t have to worry about spending too much time on personal communication when you should be working.

Tip #3: Choose a Productive Environment

Setting up shop in the home office is a fairly standard protocol. However, if you’re not feeling productive in that space, you should go somewhere else. Depending on the work that you do, you may have a few different options for where you can set up your workspace in the home. Make sure that you choose one that is energizing and makes you feel like you can get things done. In the same vein, if you know that sitting on the couch is only going to lead to laziness, don’t set up your laptop in the living room.

Again, you are given a lot more autonomy and choice in your working conditions when you are working from home. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a veritable free-for-all. It means that you need to take control, now more than ever, to set yourself up for success. Part of that is finding the environment that is most conducive to productivity.

Tip #4: Count on Technology Failures

Remote work is flexible, convenient, and allows the best of the best to collaborate on teams, no matter where in the world they are located. However, it also relies heavily on technology, which is notorious for being almost as difficult as it is efficient and helpful. Plan ahead, work ahead, and have contingency plans in place. Even when your boss is understanding, your clients may not be as willing to accept that their product or service isn’t delivered as promised because of a technology failure.

If you’re working remotely, your company is expected to have fail-safes in place for technology issues, connectivity problems, and other related complications. It happens all too often, and whether it’s a simple upload failure or a full website crash, eventually it’s going to derail your workday. If you have a backup plan in place, you’ll be much better prepared.

Tip #5: Find Your WFH Style

Although we can offer you all the tips in the world to help you navigate working from home, we cannot tell you what your remote work style is going to be. Some people thrive on a typical 9-to-5 schedule. Others like to work at their own pace, and some even wait until the last minute, specifically because they work better under pressure. Try out a few things until you find what feels good and gives you the most productive workday with the fewest complications or distractions.

As long as you’re committed to giving your full effort remotely just as you would at the office, you’ll be able to succeed at working from home once you find the work style and process that suits your personality and professional nature. What works for one person might not work for another. Feel free to explore different strategies and styles before settling on your remote work style.

The Future is Now

Marketers and others have been warning businesses for years that they need to adopt digital agility and have plans in place to provide remote work opportunities. Now that we are facing a global crisis where nearly every employee who can is working from home, it’s more apparent than ever that this is necessary. The lack of structure can be unsettling for some, but those who work with a reputable company should be able to find all of the support that they need at just a phone call or email away.