Because we are all trying to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy by limiting our social contacts, more of us are working from home than ever before. Although some of us work from home routinely, others are doing so temporarily.

During the past several years, remote work has become both more common and easier to accomplish, given ready access to high-speed internet, video conferencing software, instant messaging, and a good set of headphones.  This article offers the novice 10 tips for successful remote work.

1. Establish a dedicated workspace

Working from home does not provide the natural boundaries of time and space that a workplace provides. You don’t leave your work behind by leaving your place of employment.

Therefore, it’s important to create some sort of physical boundary at home. Although if you are only working from home temporarily you might not have a dedicated home office, it’s important to find a room or a part of a room you can temporarily use as an office space to help you develop a boundary between your work and your home life.

Ideally, it will be a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted by family members or other distractions. But do not use your bed – that needs to be set aside for sleep.

2. Develop a morning routine

Although it’s tempting to roll out of bed and start working right away, or even check your email on your phone while you’re still in bed, it’s best to develop the same type of routine you would have if you were commuting to work. Wearing pjs and sweatpants all day can be awesome at first, but the novelty wears off pretty fast.

Get up, take a shower, get dressed, have breakfast, take your supplements, have coffee, exercise – whatever you would do if you were commuting.

3. Establish time boundaries

According to a 2019 survey, 43 percent more remote workers than onsite workers say they work more than 40 hours per week. Although this may be because they are enjoying what they are doing, or are caught up in a project they want to finish, or some other reason, it’s very important to establish a work routine.

Particularly if you are working with co-workers in different time zones, it’s tempting to want to make yourself available over several time zones, which can result in a 10+ hour day. Although that isn’t the ideal arrangement, if it works best for you and your team, then be sure to build in time in the middle of the day for an exercise break, take care of personal business, go for a walk, or just relax.

4. Socialize with co-workers

When you work in an office setting, part of your daily routine involves chatting with co-workers about non-work issues, whether it’s over lunch, brief chats in your office, in the bathroom, or whatever. But working remotely you can have meetings with co-workers but they may be all business.

Therefore, it’s important to build in a little chat time – either at the beginning or end of a Skype meeting, via a brief IM chat, or other means. A day shouldn’t go by without a quick, “Hi, how are you doing?” between yourself and another co-worker. Otherwise, the well-known hermit syndrome can ensue.

5. Create a project schedule for yourself

Although there are typically fewer distractions when working from home than in an onsite work setting, it’s still important to make a list of projects you are working on and assign priorities to the projects.

It also helps to share your completion goals with your teammates to remain accountable. Sticking to a plan is easier when working remotely because you are less likely to be pulled into unexpected meetings.

If you’re working in a team where some are onsite and some are remote, then your strength as a remote worker is being able to complete projects – writing projects, for example – while onsite teammates might be involved in troubleshooting, organizing, and engaging in multi-team meetings.

6. Take a lunch break

Don’t forget to eat. It’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and forget to stop for lunch. Take a good half hour away from your computer – and don’t sit and eat while working.

7. Don’t forget to move

While you’re working onsite it’s more likely you will have occasion to get up and move – to go to a conference room for a meeting, to chat with a co-worker in another office, etc.

But when working alone at home, it’s easy to sit for hours and forget to get up and move. Try to get up and move for at least a minute or two every 30-60 minutes. If necessary, set a timer to remind yourself. Walk up and down the stairs, walk around the house, chase the cat, or play with the dog.

8. Drink water

Just like any other time, it’s important to drink plenty of water. Keep a bottle of water next to you to sip on throughout the day. This will also cause you to get up and move once in a while.

9. Remote doesn’t mean less than

Even though remote work has become the format of choice for some large companies, the stereotype image of the remote worker as a slacker in pjs lounging on the couch still exists.

It’s easy to feel inferior, less than, that you’re missing out on important information, etc. In fact, there is even a syndrome – imposter syndrome – that describes the insecurities associated with remote workers. Remember, you are still a valuable member of your team, so, if you feel out of the loop, schedule a meeting with someone who can bring you into the loop.

10. Create a hard stop

When you’re done for the day, be done – shut down your computer, turn off the lights, and leave your work area.  And, unless there’s a good reason, don’t continue to check your email on your smart phone throughout the evening.

Establishing good remote work hygiene is just as important as developing good sleep hygiene and will go a long way toward making it a successful endeavor, whether temporarily or long-term.