Design and Workflow Blog

Thoughts on working remotely

10 tips on working from home: being productive and staying sane.

My current work space setup at home.

We work remotely at Blocks Edit. I’ve been working remotely on and off for the past 12+ years. Most of the time from home. If you find yourself having to work from home unexpectedly, or even if you have been doing it for a while, here are some tips on making the best of it.

  • Learn how you prefer to work - pay attention to how you do things and what works best for your personality. I’ve put together a guide to maintaining focus that comes from years of figuring out how to do things in a way that's productive and less stressful.
  • Develop a routine - a morning routine. A day-to-day routine of how you manage your tasks. How you have lunch and take breaks. Forming habits will allow you to slide in and out of work mode easily.
  • Get dressed in something else besides your pajamas - it’s fun at first but gets old. It doesn’t have to be a suit but something comfortable to wear during the day is good. It becomes part of your routine to help get into work mode.
  • Have a dedicated work space - either a desk somewhere, or a room/office where your environment triggers your work mindset.
  • Invest in a good chair - I paid $800 for my last one but it lasted me 13 years. I recently got another one for $1200 which is even better than my last one (the Aeron from Herman Miller). It's comfortable and maintains good back support throughout the day. If you're going to sit for extended periods of time, sit well.
  • Set boundaries - I work by myself, but if you have other people in a household, be sure to also communicate and plan how you interact with each other throughout a given work day.
  • Get used to asynchronous communication - meaning you don't expect an answer right away. This is usually email, but it also means using a project management tool where you write up something and wait for feedback. It provides a record of work that anyone on your team can refer to if they need to. The one tool I always recommend is Basecamp.
  • Stay active - get up from your chair at least every hour. During a lunch break consider going for a walk, a place for lunch. Try to get some exercise in during the day. Sitting for too long, or even standing can both be equally unhealthy. It's about moving your body.
  • Get some form of socializing in - consider finding an online chat channel as a water cooler for interacting with other like-minded people (mine is usually the #emailgeeks Slack). Text someone to say hello. Have lunch with a friend.
  • Listen to music in the background - if you enjoy music of course, otherwise, quiet is always good too. Avoid songs with lyrics to better-focus. Consider classical, jazz, or electronic music.

The guys at Basecamp recently did a web chat where they answered questions about working remotely including what you should do if you are a manager. They also have a book, written a few years ago, appropriately titled Remote that's worth checking out.

The Blocks Edit visual editor was designed for remote work by allowing for both autonomy and collaboration in your email production workflow.

Photo of Ovi Demetrian Jr Ovi Demetrian Jr