A work from home checklist
From finance must-dos to productivity hacks, these tips can help you manage your work from home setup.
There are many benefits of working from home, from increased flexibility to zero commute time. More and more people, whether they work for themselves or for a company, are pursuing some sort of work from home or telework arrangement. According to Pew Research, nearly three years into COVID 19, approximately 59% of employed Americans were working remotely: this figure was down from 71% in 2020. Here are a few tips to consider when setting up a work from home arrangement.
Make a plan for your work from home financial needs
- Consider a tax professional for help. Especially for self-employed individuals, a tax pro can help establish good record-keeping routines and explain any home-based business tax deductions, expenses and financial considerations.
- Establish an expense-tracking system. If you're employed by a company, you may have certain expenses they've agreed to reimburse you for. If you're self-employed, it helps to understand what expenses you'll incur and how you'll monitor them. You may want to consider a home office deduction worksheet, a mobile app and a dedicated business credit card, too.
- Block off paperwork time. Include a weekly appointment on your calendar that you dedicate to invoicing, contracts and other clerical work, including timesheets if you are not self-employed.
- Protect yourself. If you have a home-based business, you may need liability coverage as well as protection for any assets (equipment, devices, computers, etc.) that you use.
Create an appropriate work from home area
- Know your employer’s remote work policies. Your company’s Human Resources department should have a handbook or guidelines on remote work policies, expectations and procedures. They may also have protocols around communication, meetings, calls and production work. Be sure to understand what the requirements are.
- Create a dedicated workspace. Avoid areas where you need to share space with others in the home. Some companies require you to have a quiet and dedicated office space to take phone calls or to concentrate.
- Invest in necessary equipment and software. Be sure you have the proper equipment for your job. Examples might be a printer, scanner, security updates or devices. Your needs may differ depending on what you do and whether you're self-employed or employed by a company.
- Pay attention to ergonomics. Have a comfortable chair with back support. Also, consider a hands-free headset or earbuds for meetings.
Monitor your work from home productivity
- Establish a schedule. The risk of working from home is that there's no one that serves as a check-in. No receptionist monitors your comings and goings and no co-workers are around to share meeting times and camaraderie. To counteract that, establish regular working hours so that you maintain a clear delineation between work and non-work time and align those hours with your co-workers.
- Give yourself a break when you need it. Perhaps one day a week you choose to work at a coffee shop or library. It's a great way to break up what can be a monotonous schedule at home. It is important to always use VPN when working in a coffee shop, library or outside location and make sure that the internet access meets security protocols.
Practice regular self care
- Get up and get dressed. It is tempting to simply work in your cozy clothes or pajamas, but it is good practice to get dressed and groomed as you would if you were going into an office or other work setting. Not only does this help with motivation and morale, it builds consistency in your daily routine.
- Stick to your schedule. Follow regular mealtimes, just as you would if you worked in a typical office.
- Set an alarm or app alert. Apps can help remind you to get up from your desk and move, even if it’s just a walk around the block or some stretching exercises. Being outside and taking advantage of fresh air could help your mood, circulation, focus, productivity and may also help relieve stress.
- Get out and see people. If you telecommute, set up (or join) office meetings, if possible, every once in a while. Establish a cadence of lunch meetings with clients, co-workerss or potential clients.
- Watch for phishing. Phishing continues to be a large threat to security. Closely scrutinize emails, especially those that are unsolicited, create a sense of urgency, invoke strong emotions or request sensitive information. Don't open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don't recognize.
- Keep router passwords updated. Your router is your home's front door to the internet, so make sure it's secured with a strong password. The first way you can secure your home network is by changing its pre-set password to a strong password and using encryption so hackers can't read information you send.
- Have strong device passwords. Be vigilant with home camera security, especially since cameras can be vulnerable to hackers.
- Download software and apps with caution. Make certain the site is legitimate and familiar to you. Malicious sites may contain unwelcome viruses or malware.