7 best practices for working from home indefinitely

Remote working is very close to just being called ‘working’. The time for temporary solutions is over and now it’s time to optimize your home setup for long-term success.

An arm with a green shirt sleeve holding a digital pen to a laptop with a beer next to it in a well-lit room filled with plants.

You spend a third of your life sleeping, so it makes sense to get a high-quality bed. That’s advice you would’ve heard before. The same principle applies to your home office set-up. You spend a lot of time there too, so it’s important to have everything you need to feel comfortable.

The changes don't need to be revolutionary, but taking the time to optimize your WFH setup will make you happier and more productive.

Here are 7 practical tips you can use to get set up working remotely, indefinitely. 

1. Buy a proper, ergonomic desk chair

Even if you’re only working from home two days per week, that’s 40% of your working week not in a purpose-built office chair. Insufficient back support and poor posture can cause long-term problems. A repurposed dining chair might work for a few days, but if you’re getting serious about WFH, then you need a chair that supports you the right way. 

It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it needs to be something built to be sat in for long stretches of time. Here is a list of ergonomic chairs to help you choose.

2. While you’re at it, invest in a sit-stand desk

It’s easy to get locked in stasis if you’re working at a desk. That’s where a hybrid sit-stand desk can be useful. There are benefits to standing at work and even if your role is not typically active, a desk that lets you stand will keep you limber. Here is a list of good stand-up desks for inspiration.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also consider a treadmill desk. They don’t suit everybody, but if you’re someone who likes to think on the move, the treadmill desk will help keep the juices flowing. 

3. Put together a routine and stick to it

When you’re WFH and don’t need to commute or plan your day conventionally, you might wonder why you need a routine at all. It’s simple: a good routine lets you get a good night’s sleep. 

A sleep/wake circadian rhythm is like magic for the human body. Your body will recognize its bedtime, and the right processes will be triggered so you get the most from your night’s sleep. Its benefits are myriad and well-documented.  

Being well-rested will give you the energy for the parts of your day that might seem disposable, but in reality, are far from it. For example, some time to enjoy a coffee and do a crossword (or Wordle) before you start work. It might just be a small pleasure, but those moments are valuable for your happiness. 

There are useful apps such as Sleep Cycle or SleepScore that help track your sleep and give you valuable insights into how your routine is working for you.

4. Set expectations with those you live with

Sometimes family or housemates think working from home means you’re available all the time. And while being at home if you’re truly needed is one benefit of WFH, it’s important to set boundaries so you can get work done when you need to.

Do the people you live with know your start and finish times? They don’t need a play-by-play of your daily routine, but they should at least know when you start and finish each day (or at least when you plan to start and finish). That way they know when to keep it down around the house.

You can take it a step further by sharing your calendar with them so they can see when you’re in meetings and shouldn’t be disturbed.

5. Get your spaces well-equipped

If you’re working in a hybrid setup, carting your smaller personal electronic items between locations is fine temporarily, but doing it for the long term is unnecessary effort. Not to mention avoidable stress if you leave something at home accidentally.

It may not be feasible to have two laptops, but your mouse, keyboard, and headphones should all have counterparts in your home office. That way, no matter where you decide to work, you can travel light.

6. Separate work and play (where possible)

Separating work and home life is a big contributor to happiness. The easiest way is by physically changing location. If you have the luxury of a study or a spare room, utilizing that space as your home office will help your mind differentiate between work and home. 

Even if the commute is five seconds instead of half an hour, a journey to work will keep your bedroom purely for rest and relaxation.

If it isn’t possible to have a separate room for your office, try to pack what you can out of sight at the end of your work day. Anything that you can do to signal to yourself that work is over will help you stay away from being ‘always-on’. 

7. Personalize your office

Your home office can be a reflection of who you are. You don’t have to adhere to office standards, and no one will tell you to take down posters, photos, or inflatable palm trees—so make the environment your own. You can make your office as busy or minimalist as you like. It’s your home and your space. 

Indoor plants, too, are a great addition to any office. Well-lit, green space is good for stress, productivity, and health.

Remote work is here to stay

Working from home is not the future of work, it’s the present and has been for a while. It’s preferred by many, even with the option to go into the office. 

Technology is at a place where your productivity doesn’t suffer at home and there are numerous benefits including flexibility, environmental impact, and saving money.

So get comfortable, for the long-term.