Almost three years ago, long before the pandemic was ever on anyone’s mind, I moved out to Utah. I never was able to find work out here, so I made a deal with the company I worked for at the time to allow me to work from home full time. I’d be able to keep my job, my responsibilities, my hours, all in exchange that I’d be chained to a home office desk during working hours. At the time, I thought that deal was by far the best thing that could happen in this scenario. I was 26 years old, had few responsibilities, and was moving out to Utah with my now Fiance, to start a new life in the west. Two years after that move and opportunity, I was trading in the work from home life for an office job. So over those two years, working from home, here are some tips I’d like to share.
Tip: Free Time can be Used for ANYTHING! Get outside.
Like most of you, you have found yourself to have more free time during your work day than you did when you went into the office. Admittedly, it’s the same amount of time, but you no longer have coworkers to just turn around and talk to. So that down-time turns into getting chores done, going for walks outside, or getting personal projects done. This part of remote work is by far the best. Work with your manager to make your schedule work for you. Block off two hours over lunch and make up for it at the end of the day or log in early so you can cut out early instead.
Even more-so, I worked for a company on the East Coast of America, which operated 2 hours ahead of where I lived in Utah. This meant I could wake up at 6AM to start work and be done by 2PM on most days. Yup, you read that right, I could get out most days while there was not only still plenty of light outside, but before the ski resorts closed. The second year I worked from home, when we moved to Park City, I skied something like 55 days at the resort that season. A large part due to my schedule. And in the summer, I was able to go for mountain bike rides and runs over my lunch or after work, well before the trails got busy with other locals after they were done work at 5PM. It was incredible. I know not everyone lives in a ski town, but make time to get outside before, during, or after work hours.
Tip: Stay Social. Don’t Become a Hermit.
The best day working from home full time, is the first day you start working from home. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill (or stagnant) from there. Unless you’re fortunate enough to travel around the world and work from wherever you want, you’re most likely working from you home office (or kitchen table). Chances are, with COVID keeping you away from the office in the first place, you don’t get to socialization much at all. Make a point to go see a friend once a week to grab coffee or just to catch up in a socially distance driveway hangout. Or in the future, when the pandemic ends and you’re able still work from home, reach out to a friend to work together from each other’s homes every other week.
I was unable to work anywhere else besides my home office for those two years and it got lonely. Every week was the same thing and my only interaction for 9 hours a day was a few different coworkers over a conference call. Needless to say, as much as you think you don’t get along with your coworkers before the working from home, you will miss the ability to just have any conversation at all with anyone around you.
Tip: Get A Dog
Face it, one of the major things holding you back from getting a dog is not having the time for training a dog. When you were in the office, the thought of having to come home at lunch just to walk the dog is enough to scrap the whole plan. But now, you’ll be home 24/7, with plenty of time to train and take care of a new dog. I had zero training experience, but because I was constantly around our dog to take him out and give him instruction, our dog was trained within a month or two, and is still benefiting from that time, today.
One of my favorite parts of working from home was getting our dog Gregor. This was my first dog, so I wanted to train it right, and working from home really allowed me to do that. Working from home allowed me to get him house trained exponentially faster and didn’t have to worry about him spending long days at home in the crate while I’m at work. Every day, by nature of always being there, I was able to train him to become quite the adventure dog and a dog that loves to explore the mountains with me. Plus, for 2 years when I worked from home, my dog was never not by my side for more than 4 hours. An easy way to become your dog’s favorite human.
Tip: Avoid The Routine and Glass Ceiling
This will not apply to most people working from home today, but as of 2019, working from home was considered a set-back in your career. There was no way to progress in your career by making the choice to leave the office. But now that everyone is working from home, the playing field has been leveled. With that being said, it’s much easier to find yourself in a routine too difficult to break out of after a few months. You need to reach out and try to take one new rolls in a time where everyone is just getting by as a team or in the current rolls until things return to “normal”.
I was told by my coworkers, before I left my office in Connecticut, that I would most likely be overlooked for promotions and any type of advancement because of my new “Remote” situation. I understood the risk and found it to be worth it at the time. I put my head down, took on as much work as I could, tried to make my as indispensable as possible. Well, it didn’t work and I was indeed overlooked. And even after all of that, I still got stuck in a routine and that was hard break from.
Tip: Have a Dedicated Work Space
Sure, this might seem obvious, and maybe easy for some than others, but having a dedicated area will significantly help your mental health over the long term. It can be a small desk against a wall or the best case, a separate room. But a place where you can separate yourself from work, during work hours, and relaxation when your not working. The worst thing that can happen is to work in the same place you associate free time with.
Those are just some of my tips and advice from my two years working from home with a job that was just as isolating as this current pandemic is making everyone’s remote experience. For some people, the remote life is amazing, and for others it is a nightmare. Try to make your working from home experience that will either be the breakthrough in your work life balance you’ve always dreamed of, or make it a learning experience in your long career.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.