Your Best Tips and Strategies for Working from Home | Coursera Community
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Your Best Tips and Strategies for Working from Home

  • 18 March 2020
  • 13 replies
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Your Best Tips and Strategies for Working from Home
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Coursera employees are now working from home. If you’re used to working in an office, it can be an awkward and challenging adjustment to make, I know! 

Whether you’re a work-from-home pro or learning as you go, we want to hear from you! 

What’s your best tip for how to work productively from home?

What strategies help teams stay connected?

What remote tools have you tried?


13 replies

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Yes! I really love working from home - I actually think I’m more productive - the hardest part is actually turning things off and stepping away. I’m still figuring that part out… Would love any advice! 

I also love this perspective from a friend and former co-worker - especially: “At home, you are your harshest critic.” and her recommendation that “When you feel that whisper of self-doubt, don’t let that voice get any louder before getting on a vid-chat with your team or manager to talk it through.”

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I've been fortunate enough to have worked from home for 3 years, but many of my teammates are now joining me for the first time. Some tips for success:

1. Pretend you're still in the office -- Whatever this means for you. Continue to socialize as you would, to the best of your ability -- if not in person, then through Slack, Google Hangouts, whatever your organization uses. Don't do things you normally wouldn't. You're still at work; do your best, don't slack off just because you can.

2. Have a dedicated space -- To the best of your ability, keep your workspace separate from the rest of your home life. Shut out distractions -- TV, Netflix podcasts, anything that doesn't help you keep focused. See #1 -- don't so things you wouldn't normally do at work.

3. Take breaks -- Get up and walk around for a minimum of 5 minutes every 2 hours. Get the blood pumping, keep the oxygen flowing to your brain. But also keep focused. Yoga, aerobics, meditation, whatever helps keep you active and centered.

4. Stay connected -- Don't just keep your status icon green. Stay engaged, actively seek out tasks. Keep in touch with your teammates and supervisors. It will help ward off depression and ennui. Additionally, your organization is no doubt also taking a hit; you will need to do your part faithfully to keep things humming, and communication is always the key.

In short, keep calm and carry on. This may be the new normal for a while; it has its benefits. I personally prefer working from home, and believe more organizations should support it. Be safe, be responsible, and do the needful.

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Are you ready to work from home? This new reality was imminent & new to many of us. As I am preparing my new work space I am following useful tips from@Steelcase and other useful sites.

Tip # 1: designate a working space, minimize distractions, be transparent ... here more https://steelcase.com/research/articles/topics/working-from-home/suddenly-working-home/

 

Tip # 2: Are you ready to work from home? Make sure to establish a routine similar to when you work at your office or workplace, create a schedule, setup meetings, breaks, lunch time & ending time.

 

Tip # 3 Are you ready to work from home? As you are establishing your routine, make sure to choose a technology solution that works for you. Keep in mind that it is user-friendly & the coworkers & people you will interact with have access to it.

 

Tip # 4 Are you ready to work from home? Once chosen a tech tool to organize your day, projects & communication, setup daily virtual meetings w' your team. First one in the morning to discuss plans for the day & offer each other words of support.

 

Tip # 5 Are you ready to work from home? Do not forget that as you start your day & before your first meeting, have had breakfast, dressed comfortably similar to how you would to work in your office & put some relaxing music in the background #workingfromhome #distancelearning

 

I will be creating more tips once or twice a day and sharing it through my Twitter account @EdTech_Expert here: https://twitter.com/edtech_expert/status/1239734941828689920

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I like 8 Tips for First-time Online Learners and customized it for my remote work:


- Set daily goals for work

- Prioritize the tasks

- Focus and do one thing at a time

- Be proactive on collaboration tools (such as Slack)

- Keep yourself accountable

- Actively take notes

- Use a dedicated work space

- Balance the work and breaks (pomodoro technique might help)

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I’ve been working from home for the last 12 years running an animation studio and teaching online to more than 30,000 students. A lot of my students have been asking me for tips to help them transition to working from home so I created a list with 52 recommendations.

Here is the list divided into three areas: 1. Workspace, 2. Tools & Systems, and 3. Habits.

1. Your Workspace

  • Create a designated working area
  • Get a comfortable chair
  • Get a good computer monitor
  • Get faster Internet
  • Get a proper desk
  • Make sure your monitor is at eye level
  • Pay attention to illumination
  • Declutter your workspace
  • Put photos of your loved ones within sight
  • Make sure you have proper ventilation
  • Put at least one plant near your desk
  • Consider getting a pet
  • Arrange all your tools near you

2. Your Tools And Systems

  • Upgrade your computer
  • Implement a good file management system
  • Have a system to back up all your files securely
  • Keep all your apps up to date
  • Install the latest operating system
  • Use a password manager
  • Use a VPN to connect to work
  • Learn keyboard shortcuts to speed productivity
  • Block all unnecessary notifications
  • Block all unnecessary websites
  • Delete time-sucking apps from your phone
  • Create bookmarks to all essential tools and websites
  • Use a digital calendar to schedule all your activities
  • Set up alarms and notifications to remind you of all activities
  • Develop a system to process email efficiently
  • Implement a framework to prioritize tasks
  • Become proficient using at least one project management tool
  • Take at least one course on productivity

2. Your Habits

  • Wake up at the same time every day
  • Go to sleep at the same time every day
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep every day
  • Develop a consistent morning routine
  • Implement a wrap-up ritual
  • Drink more water
  • Have meals at similar times every day
  • Schedule regular breaks
  • Try to eat healthier foods
  • Exercise at least 3 times a week for longer than 10 minutes
  • Connect at least once a week with co-workers via Zoom or Skype
  • Connect with loved ones at least 3 times a week
  • Have a regular day/time to plan your week ahead
  • Have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish long term
  • Practice good hygiene regularly (shave, shower, brush teeth, floss, etc.)
  • Make time to play at least twice a week
  • Spend at least 20 mins every day learning a new skill
  • Make time at least once a week to help others
  • Get fresh air at least once a day
  • Get exposed to direct sunlight at least once a day
  • Implement a system to track at least 3 key habits

The entire list with explanations is on my blog at https://grumo.com/work-from-home-guide/

To help implementing these recommendations, I’ve created a PDF checklist that you can download at: https://grumo.com/wfhpdf

I’ve also created an online assessment to calculate your Work-For-Home readiness score that will provide you with a series of recommendations based on your current #workfromhome situation.

You can take the assessment here → https://grumo.com/wfhtool

The average score for so far after 200+ submissions is 65%. Mine was 75% as my habits need a bit of work. Specifically, drinking more water and exercising more since all my soccer games got cancelled!

I hope this helps someone.

Thanks and good luck working from home!

Miguel

Founder at Grumo.com

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Thank you so much for sharing your ideas about working at home!  I am a professor/researcher and often work at home, but this ‘new normal’ is taking working at home to a new level.  Also, I am in ‘retirement mode’ and am switching gears to a new profession as a nutritionist/health coach.  I was planning on doing my coaching in groups and one-on-one, but all in person.  I now want to start getting information out to the community about how to take care of their health during this crisis by following good nutrition and exercise guidelines.  I will volunteer my services, but at almost 68 years old, I do not have the technical savvy or skills to figure this out on my own --  and sadly, I have no family members to help me.   I have the didactic materials, but I do not know how to deliver them in this format.  Any ideas?

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I hope so this cultural arrive our community soon as possible , because learning from home as onley that able to be contact with new delivary educational stuffs to follow the world .

 

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tl;dr? separate work and home space and behavior and make sure you’re talking with your team at all times.


Most of the points have already pointed out most of it, but I’d like to chip-in as well.
To fix a problem, we need to understand the problem and where it stems from, and the reasoning behind everything we do as well, that’s why I will try to be as elaborate as I can in this comment.

Workspace / Home Separation:
If you have noticed, most of the replies have discussed this, you have to have clear boundaries between your work and your home. Both in space and behavior. It could be as simple as having a separate desk for work and used only for work, and as far as having a whole office at home, either way, you can’t use one for the other.
Someone I know used to work remote for about half a year, his desk was next to his bed, he usually just woke up and hit the ground running, he didn’t last that long. On the other hand, a friend of mine used to work remotely for years, and he was very clear about the separation, including dress code; yes he had a work dress code at home while he’s working at his workspace. If your company doesn’t allow PJs at the office, then I highly suggest you stick with that at home. It doesn’t help you be less productive (neither do PJs at work!), but that would help you make a better separation between both work and home, those little things make all the difference. 
Basically like what @txrob said: behave like you would at the office.

Communication Tools: Usually at the office communication (if done right) can come intuitively and flawlessly, which makes us take it for granted, that could change while you work from home if you’re not very aware of it and deliberately practicing it, “Deliberate Practice” is key. Use communication tools as much as you can, here’s a couple of tools many of us use and how to take advantage of them:
Discord: everyone uses Slack, it does the job and is pretty OK, but to me I always prefer Discord, it's much easier to use, more features (they had voice before Slack did) and their voice channels help with voice meetings on the go, we even setup “Meeting Room A” B and C for quick voice meetings to jump on, very convenient and quick. Best thing about Discord is that their “Paid” features only help you do more, not limit your usage like Slack does. Their community is great and they always listen to the community and work on more features all the time to make sure get the right features out first.
Trello: Well, this brings us to the whole myriad of tools to help you organize what's being done. We have the notorious Trello and their cards. It’s extremely minimalistic, no frill, no extra functions. It's simple, quick, easy to understand: You have a board, that has lanes, each lane is a state, move cards through lanes at all times and don’t stop for too long. This will help you to stay on top of things and making sure you're not slacking off or slowing down.
Jira: there is also Jira, a lot of Scrum teams love Jira, it’s full of features, configurations and it’s too much frill to me, but they added a new type of board that minimizes all that and removes all that frill so that you can get started real quick.
Monday: One tool that really surprised me was “Monday.com”, they work with the “boards” concept as well, but they offer multiple “views” inside each board, you could shift between “List”, “Kanban”, “Timeline” and more. It really helps different teams (Product, Development, Sales, etc) work on the same thing at the same time. 
Basecamp: there is also “Basecamp”, I’ve used it for a very short period of time, so I can’t really give my take on that, but I know that their team is one that could be the ultimate “Go To” when it comes to remote working.
Meet: Google’s meet helps with jumping onto meetings in less than 30 seconds, just create a meeting, get the link and send it to them. Use that whenever there is a miscommunication between anyone.
Zoom: haven’t used Zoom that much as well, but I can tell from how many people are using it so far that it’s worth giving it a try.
Miro: this one helps you document your drawings. If you’re good at communication, you’ll know that there is no better way to explain an idea or flesh it out than to draw it while you explain it (Read “On The Back of The Napkin”), if you end up one time discussing your product and end up with a drawing that you think you’ll need as reference later on or it explains things really well and you’re proud of it, document it on Miro, clean it up real well and keep it for everyone to see and use.

Communication Behaviors: now that we have a lot of tools we can work with, what should we do? Well, usually you move in between them based on what you’re doing and make sure you’re using the right one at the right time. It seems confusing at first, but it comes with Deliberate Practice.
Elaboration: never assume things. It’s really simple, if you see something you do not understand or even not 100% certain what it is or how it works, get in touch with the person you think will have the answer, and they don’t they will probably know who will. Always ask, always communicate, don’t assume things and make sure you get to the right source of information, whether that’s someone or a link to a documentation.
Socialize: your texting tool shouldn’t be just for work, you could have a “memes” channel, a “Books” channel or even a “What I’m cooking tonight” channel, basically you want to be having the same day-to-day discussions at the office, but move them to texting. Socializing like you do at the office helps you rest your mind, get new ideas and think of new ways to tackle a problem, refer back to “behaving like you would at the office”.
Basecamp came up with a really nice idea to have “Virtual water cooler discussions”, they spend some time every day (can’t remember how much time) one a video chat talking casually, what they have done the day before, what their vacation plans are. It gets the team together, they make friends and again, they socialize. Humans are not machines, we need to feel empathy and empathize with one another, and it’s easier to do that when you know the person or they’re your friends.
Miscommunication: usually you talk through texting, but when you start to feel you’re being misunderstood, you have to stop right away, and move it to voice. Voice chat will show more of your emotions through your tone, which makes a lot of difference. Example: I’m texting my friend “what is this?” and I attach a link to a card on Trello that I have no idea what it does and thought I should be aware of it, if by chance, they had been on defensive mode at the time, they will read it as “what is this?!”, something which the voice tone would have conveyed better. If that still doesn’t work, jump on a video call, facial expressions and body language does the rest. We usually go in that order for convenience, maybe the internet isn’t good enough for a video call etc. If you’re 100% there are no issues on any side, always go with video calls.
Documentation: always keep track of your progress, the notes of meetings and the status of everything. Did you just finish this task? Move it to the next lane and explain what you did and how you did it so that everyone can go back to and review.. Talked with your squad and decided a small detail should be changed in the way you write emails, document it somewhere online where everyone can go back to and review. (See the pattern?)

 

Self Discipline:
You have no one to look over your shoulder, or someone to judge you or feel bad if you’re playing and everyone around you is working, so you need to have a very strong sense of responsibility and practice tons of self discipline, make sure you’re tracking your break times and durations, you’re not responding to that personal email during work time, not cooking that quick instant ramen cup in 5 minutes and it wouldn’t hurt. As @txrob also said, take breaks every now and then, but make sure you’re in charge of those breaks not the other way around. If you take a 30 min. lunch break, make sure it’s just a 30 minute lunch break not an hour and a half lunch and that last episode of that show that you can get to finish this week.
It takes a lot of practice to be your own judge, jury and executioner (at first), but once you hammer that discipline into yourself, you’re good to go from there an on.
Do no confuse self discipline with work/home separation, one is setting up two different environments and keeping them separated, and the other is managing your time and actual work efficiency, basically if you’re actually working, or just coming up with “logical” reasoning to convince your consciousness that you’re doing your best.
First step in controlling procrastination is understanding the emotions behind it. You need to realize that procrastination comes when you start coming up with logical excuses/reasons to not do this thing now or that you have “more important” things to do.

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These are great questions, and I know a lot of teams are asking them in one, global chorus. We’re going through an unprecedented time. I’ve worked remotely since 1998, and I wrote and published The Art of Working Remotely last summer. With the recent influx of people working remotely for the first time, I asked myself … what can I do to help?

For the foreseeable future, I’m giving away 2/3 of the book as a free PDF. If you’ve found yourself thrust into the world of remote work, you’re going to find these sections tactically helpful to getting yourself set up and effective while remote. 

This is NOT a sample chapter. It’s NOT a preview, or a sneak peek. It’s LITERALLY two of the three sections of the book, and they’ll help you jumpstart your remote work setup, regardless of how long you’ll be doing it. And it's free. 

You can help, too: please share this link with folks who you think would appreciate it. Here are the details: https://artofworkingremotely.com/news/free-download-for-remote-workers/

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with the spread of Coronavirus affecting everything from international travel to the availability of hand sanitizer, mitigating COVID-19 in the india has become a growing concern. That’s why many companies like Wipro, HP, Accenture, inventateq, infosys, IBM are mandating or recommending that as many employees as possible work remotely until the virus can be slowed. 

here are the important tips to work from home and stay productive and mentally healthy 

https://www.buzzfeed.com/natashajokic1/work-from-home-hacks

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I have been working from home for about 15 years and I have seen that WFH is not to everyone. But, you know what? Years ago I was awarded as employee of the year, even working from home. So, yes, it is possible to succeed even working from home. But as you can read in this thread, there are some important points that you need take care of if you want to be ok. I dont agree to all them but, to me, there are, at least, 3 important points you need have in mind, but not necessarily in this order: be focused, have a private space, have a good connection with your team.

  • FOCUSED: be focused is very important to help you be productive and do your activities from start to end.
  • SPACE: It is very important that you have you own space, where you can get in, close the door and start to work. 
  • CONNECTION: you must have a good internet connection and stay connected to your team at all time, not only to make questions but also to be ready to answer questions from your team, as soon as possible. 

I dont agree with some comments like “you need be well dressed” to have a good working day! Well, I think that dressing will not make you more or less productive. I use to use any dressing that I feel comfortable. 

Another point that I think can help is, each two hours, stop your work and go walk a bit or do some activity to shake your body. I use to do some gym for 10 min and get back to job. When I restart I feel more motivated to finish the task I was working on. 

There are many others points that we can talk in this thread like how to make a meeting, music, tv, sleep after launch, etc. 

Anyway, in the era of Corona virus, try to take advantage of home-office and get good results to your professional and personal life.

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Hi,

I had a suggestion. I’m currently an international student in the US. I used to work on campus but due to the Coronavirus I don’t have a job anymore and my parents would be sending me money. Right now, the market is going down and the dollar rate is going up so the transfer rate is going to be high also, I want them to avoid going to the bank as much as possible. 

 

Right now I am doing a certificate course from Coursera and since I have more time right now I wanted to add one or two more classes but I can’t because I will have to ask my parents to transfer me more money. So, I had a suggestion that if you could come up with something at least for students for these few months then it would be really helpful. 

 

Thank you, 

Neha 

 

 

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Hi @Neha K. Today Coursera has made some courses available for free – you can check them out here: Coursera Together: Free online learning during COVID-19. You are also able to audit most of our courses for free, or you can apply for financial aid.

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