I've been working 100% remotely for over a year and a half now, and it's been quite a journey. Along the way I've picked up some invaluable tips & tricks to avoiding cabin fever (it's real!), being productive as possible and staying happy.
A quick side note: working remotely isn't for everybody. The general consensus is if you are introverted then chances are you'll enjoy working remotely. That's not to say if you are an extravert you can't work remotely however, it just could mean that you have to make more sacrifices.
1. Set a routine and stick to it
Getting up 5 minutes before you start work didn't work back when you commuted, and it certanly won't work now you're remote. Establish a routine and make sure you stick to it. Getting up early in the morning is invaluable.
2. Work at a desk.. with monitors, consistently
If you can. Working at my desk every day has helped me significantly with staying productive. It's fine to work on the couch once in a while, but chances are you may be at risk to distraction when you're not at your desk.
If possible, work in a room seperate to your 'relaxing space' in your home. If you can have a room that is your dedicated 'office' then that's brilliant for productivity and sanity. Nothing beats the privilage of having a room to leave at the end of the day.
3. Take breaks
As you don't have an open plan office full of people ready to bug you chances are you will be left alone for hours at a time. For me, taking regular breaks boosts my productivity and output. Not to mention your eyes will thank you for relieving their strain. Try and take a 5 minute break every hour.
4. Make friends & family aware that even though you are at home.. you are at work
It can be easy for family members to act like you're not working because you work from home. Ask them to call back after work or during your lunch break. If you don't establish boundaries then you won't be able to focus on work and get stuff done.
5. Plug in and zone in
I have 2 pairs of wireless earphones and will at least kill the battery on the first set before the day is over, every single day. For me music is key to effective output. I like to use a combination of Spotify and Brain.fm for this.
Nothing beats music to eliminate the distracting sounds of the washing machine, or the animals, or traffic outside. It can also be a good mood lifter!
6. Get dressed, and have meetings as calls, not texts
Getting dressed is common sense. If you aren't dressed for work, then you'll feel your productivity stunt.
If you are able to have meetings as calls then make sure you take up that opportunity; being remote you almost completely lose the ability to form office relationships unless you make an effort.
7. Make sure you meet up with your coworkers in person
No matter how many video calls you have with your coworkers, nothing compares to being there in person. Make sure you spend some time throughout the year to catch up with colleagues and experience life from within the confines of the office walls. Knowing how the office functions is invaluable - knowing that Jason is constantly up and moving about the office explains why he rarely responds quickly to your Slack messages!
8. Get some fresh air, and sunlight
Cabin fever is a real thing. If you are a hermit then make sure you get out of the house regularly, or you'll go stir crazy. You no longer have the 1 hour commute to experience the world every work day, so make sure you spend some time outside.
9. Be a reliable communicator
I can't stress this enough. Coworkers can't just walk up to your desk, so if you work remotely then you need to be available all of the time. If you're not available, then update your Slack status to reflect this. This is a 10 second effort that can make other people's lives 100x less frustrating.
Out for lunch? Make people aware. On leave? Make people aware. This also works both ways, so non remote people... if you aren't able to get right back to us that's fine, just make us aware! Normally Slack is our lifeline for communication.
10. Make use of that valuable time you save every day
Now you don't commute to work, instead of getting an extra hour lay-in each day, why not use it wisely. I enjoy walking my dog Ollie in the mornings, and alternate between short/long walks and going for a run (I track with Strava, feel free to look me up and follow!). I'll also put on an audiobook or podcast while I do this, so I'm learning as well as increasing my fitness!
I hope this post has helped anybody currently working remotely, or who are considering making the jump!