How to make work-from-home work for you

Just like everything else in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when working remotely. Work-from-home in a tiny studio apartment is not like work-from-home in a rural farmhouse with bad internet. Making games with a toddler or puppy crawling all over you is completely unlike making games in a quiet room with the door tightly shut.

Your unique situation, skills, and challenges will shape what works for you. The best way to find a solution is to try new things. Follow your intuition about your needs and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Revolutionize your workspace.
We often transpose office culture into the home. Throw out that idea. Take the time to figure out what could make your workspace excellent for you, and then try to make it happen.

One of the core advantages of work-from-home is comfort and customizability. Maybe you want to get a plant? Or maybe you want to get so many plants your office looks like a jungle? Maybe you want to do some of your meetings over the phone while you go for a walk? Maybe you have a recurring injury and are more comfortable working from a bed? Take advantage of the customizability of work-from-home to make a workspace that truly works for you.

Defend the line between work and play.
If your personal time and your work time are on the same computer in the same space, it’s easy to feel like you are always at work. Even if you have the luxury of a home office, it can feel like it is haunting you every time you walk by the door. You are always just a few steps and keystrokes away from fixing that bug or replying to that message.

Work-from-home shouldn’t mean home becomes work. More separation is always better. Not everyone can afford to have a separate home office, but everyone can make a conceptual separation. Whether it’s creating a separate user account for work with a different background image, or moving to a different work surface, or changing the lighting, find as many ways as possible to push work out of your personal life.

Don’t suffer bad equipment.
If the studio is saving money on office rent, it’s helpful to invest in setting up home offices for everyone on the team.

The most expensive investment is technical equipment. You’ll need a computer that can run a game engine and video call without sounding like a rocket taking off. Great internet is crucial for smooth meetings and file uploads. You’ll want at least one external monitor, webcam, directional mic, headphones, and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.

Adjustable desks that allow for standing and sitting and active chairs that engage your core can help you keep moving. Your future self begs you not to sit on an old stool with your laptop precariously perched on an ironing board.

You need a routine.
Almost everyone* and their doctors and therapists agree that routine is critical to work-from-home. This can be challenging if you have total freedom to work whenever you like. You aren’t imagining it, total flexibility is more work. Without a routine, you have to use willpower to work. With a routine the momentum carries you along, you just need to keep moving.

Work at times that work for you.
Use the flexibility of work-from-home to your advantage and build a routine that works for you. Maybe you like to code in 3-hour chunks with long breaks in between? Or perhaps you like to world-build in the morning before anyone else starts work? Or possibly you prefer to take mornings off and work on game design during afternoons and evenings? Find a schedule that works for you and try to be consistent. When there’s no routine and no-one to be accountable to, it’s easy to flop onto the couch and think “I’ll make it up tomorrow.”

A routine doesn’t need to be only about the hard parts.
Your routine might include sitting down with a steaming cup of coffee every morning. Your routine could involve checking a daily webcomic as a reward for a few hours of solid work at 3 pm. Some people even take a walk around the block to get some air and mimic the perfect commute before they start their workday. Routine is just as much about morning rituals, regular breaks, and winding down as it is about the hours of work.

Created by Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan from GAIN and funded by Ontario Creates and the CMF, Isolation Nation tackles the tough pandemic-related problems like motivation and communication, as well as continuing challenges like market discoverability and work-life balance.

Download the full free 32 page resource here, or read another excerpt “Maybe tomorrow? Motivation and work from home“.