I’ve been working from home for years. For most people, you only need a few things to do it effectively.

I’ve been working from home for years. For most people, you only need a few things to do it effectively.

Antonio Villas-Boas Business Insider March 13, 2020

  • I’ve been working from home for years, and there’s no real “trick” or magic pill to make it easier.
  • I perform just as well, or better, from home in my sweatpants and working from my couch instead of a desk. But it does take some getting used to.
  • Thankfully, I don’t need to go out and buy anything new or special for my job. All I need is a laptop and an internet connection — two things I already have.
  • The best tip I can give to people who are new to working from home is to set a hard cut-off time to end the work day. It’s easy to keep working and burn yourself out if you don’t have your usual commute home to declare the end of the day.
  • Over time, working from home becomes much, much easier. Of course it takes adjustment — it’s a generally new experience and environment for office warriors.
  • Thankfully, Business Insider lets me work from home a few days of the week so I can avoid my long and expensive commute, and I’ve been able to successfully do my job partially from home for the last four years without compromise.

And now as businesses and cities across the United States push for employees to work remotely to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, innumerable colleagues and professionals are finding themselves working from home, too. For the vocal some, many are clearly having a hard time. For others who haven’t commented about working from home, you’re clearly loving it.

As a “WFH” veteran, I’ve been asked what kinds of rituals and routines I partake in, and what tools I use to perform at home as well as I do at the office. If you were looking to unlock the mystical secrets to working from home effectively, prepare to be sorely disappointed, because there’s nothing to it.

Here it is:

Working from home takes a bit of time to get used to.

I’ve seen numerous articles and blog posts telling those new to working from home how to do it. For the most part, these tips and tricks I see all over the place make working from home a bigger deal than it actually is, and I couldn’t agree less with most of them.

With that said, the experience of working from home is different for everyone. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. If some tips you see elsewhere sound good, give them a shot!

But as I think about how I became so comfortable working from home, I’m realizing that it wasn’t always as easy for me. I certainly felt a lot more pressure to perform and be more present at first. But once I showed my employer that I can communicate and perform just as well — or better — as I can from the office, the pressure subsided.

Over time, after just a month or so, working from home became second nature. It’s almost like settling into a new office at a new job — there’s the initial pressure, stress, and uncertainty, but then you get into a rhythm and flow.

All I really need is a a laptop.

From my laptop or desktop, I can do 100% of what I need to do for my job. I have a web browser (I’m using Microsoft’s Edge, most recently), I have Slack loaded up for staying in constant communication with my team, and I have all the apps and tools I need.

I’m taking more meetings over video chatting services as a result of working from home, and I normally use my laptop’s built-in speakers and microphone. But sometimes, I need a headset.

I also have an internet plan, and a WiFi router. And that’s basically it. You use what you need. There’s no major secret.

Specifically, I use a mesh WiFi system, which transmits glorious internet at high speeds throughout my home.

If there’s something you specifically need to work that you don’t have, I’d get in touch with someone at your company who handles things you need for work.

Some people say they need to get dressed up to go to work, even if that’s a home office. I recommend anything that will make you most comfortable to do your work well — and be presentable on conference calls. I wear sweatpants, a t-shirt, and some comfy slippers. Behold, my work from home uniform:

I work from my couch, or my desk where my big powerful desktop and large monitor sits. Come to think of it, I rarely sit at my desk at the office, anyway. I usually sit on a couch there.

I recommend taking periodic breaks to stretch or take a walk. Just communicate to your team that you’ll be away.

I realize that some people feel the pressure to be extra “present” when they’re working from home, but just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself up. If you take a walk during a normal work day, then take a walk when you’re working from home! Just let people know on your team’s communication app (like Slack), and let them know when you’re back.

I turn on the TV at a low volume, usually to something passive like a nature documentary or a sports game I don’t care about, to create a little background noise in the atmosphere, which helps with feelings of solitude.

If I do have one useful tip, it’s to set a hard cut-off time to end your work day, and begin your personal mode.

I’ve heard that one of the hardest things about working from home is firmly establishing a cut-off time, like you would at the office when to begin a commute back home at the end of the day.

You need to do the same for when you work from home. Otherwise, you’ll burn yourself out and you won’t get any of your personal stuff done.

Setting a hard cut-off from work at the end of the day is also helpful to control the urges to do personal stuff during the work day that you wouldn’t normally do at the office. Setting that time means you know for a fact that you’ll be off the clock at a certain time, and you can get your personal stuff done then.


Stay safe!!