A Beginner’s Guide: How to Work from Home (and Making it Work)

Everyone expects their first day of work to include some sort of fanfare, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy WFH. It can be just as fulfilling, rewarding and fun as working at the office, if you know how to make it work. If you’re new to WFH, here are some basics you should grasp.
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The gradsingapore Team
Elliyani Mohamad Ali
Chief Editor, gradsingapore
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Everyone expects their first day of work to include some sort of fanfare. Perhaps you imagine yourself all dressed up to the nines and being introduced left and right by your new boss. Maybe you’re looking forward to having your own work cubicle and getting to know your next-door (or partition) neighbour. Or possibly, the idea of just being in an office setting with a dynamic team, brainstorming campaign ideas and coming up with real-life solutions, excites you.

Unfortunately, life has now thrown us a curveball and that scenario is more likely a dream than reality. Living in a society barely out of a pandemic (or still struggling with it, depending on the situation) means working from home (WFH) will continue to be the norm. Chances are, on your first day of your first job as a full-fledged working adult, you’ll just roll out of bed, comb your hair, and settle down at your laptop before being introduced to your new colleagues via an online platform. Or you start your first day at work in a virtually empty office while your boss and HR manager go through with you your onboarding process.

It might sound like a bummer start to your working life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy WFH. It can be just as fulfilling, rewarding and fun as working at the office, if you know how to make it work. If you’re new to WFH, here are some basics you should grasp.

1) Act like you’re going to the office

Let’s be real. We are all tempted to sleep in, wake up five minutes before work starts and drag our feet to the computer. But you’re unlikely to be more awake or motivated to work with that extra hour of sleep. The first step to a successful WFH experience is to pretend you’re going to the office. Make it into a routine and you’ll soon find it won’t be a drag to get out of bed for work at all.

How to Work from Home_Act like you're going to the office

2) Be in the zone

Being in a conducive working environment does wonders for your productivity and motivation. Obviously, this means not working from bed and maintaining a dedicated workspace instead, even if you can’t have your very own office at home. Decorate it with your favourite toys, photos of your friends and family, and printouts of inspirational quotes to perk your day up. Remind your family to give you space and let you concentrate on your work during office hours. If you don’t keep a lid on the small distractions, it can quickly spiral out of control.

How to Work from Home_Be in the zone

3) Stay in the zone

We know we’re in the zone if we’re able to cross off completed tasks from our to-do list. The more we do, the more productive we are. But there’s more to the art of just ticking items off your list; you have to know how to prioritise the important tasks as well. Experts have also agreed that doing the hardest task first in the morning allows you to take it easier the rest of the day, and puts you in a better mood, which increases productivity.

How to Work from Home_Stay in the zone

4) You’re not alone

It might feel like you’re alone, but you’re not. The onboarding process is tougher than usual when it’s done virtually, and you may not be able to learn as quickly or as easily on your own relying on your colleagues on video calls or emails. It’s much more challenging, but the solutions are there. Don’t give up, and don’t be afraid to keep reaching out to your boss or colleagues to clarify any matters that you’re uncertain about.

How to Work from Home_You're not alone

5) Stay within your boundaries

Although we’ve cut down our commute time, we’re also more likely to overwork during WFH than when we go to the office. This could be due to us receiving work chat notifications and emails at all hours, or we lack productivity during the day and are forced to meet the deadlines by working beyond our office hours. Whatever the reasons are, it’s important for our physical health and mental well-being to keep our working hours in check to avoid burnout.

How to Work from Home_Stay within your boundaries

Finding what works for you takes patience, resilience and lots of practice. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you can’t instantly find your flow when it comes to WFH. Every time you find a method or process that doesn’t work for you, you learn something new about yourself. Keep at it, and before long, you’ll receive the fanfare you’ve always imagined, but this time, for being good at your job.