Work From Home Guide for Newbies and Veterans Alike

Last Updated on November 17, 2023 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

The A-Z Work From Home Guide for Newbies and Veterans Alike

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Do you have to work from home? If YES, Keep reading…

For most of us, it will seem like we went to sleep in one world and woke up in another. It is as if we are all experiencing a mass Mandela-effect of sorts, where we have phased into another reality, one where a global pandemic is slowly taking over the world. Even as our best minds race to find a solution, one thing is painfully clear—we’re going to be in this fight a while. This means far fewer social interactions than we are used to. The work from the home paradigm, which until just a couple of months ago was a fringe, albeit fast-catching-up mode of conducting business, is all set to become the defining way of life for the foreseeable future. 

While the implications of this new reality might seem frightening, we have good news for you. Even though the whole work from home thing might seem alien to many, the truth is it has been gaining steam for quite some time now. Even before the coronavirus came along, work at home was growing at 173% since 2005 while the regular mode of employment grew by 15% according to Global Workplace Analytics. Furthermore, Gallup polls found that 43% of employees had worked remotely in some capacity or another. Furthermore, a study by the Census Bureau found that people who worked from home out-earned their peers who drove to work quite significantly. Average earnings for people who worked from home were $42,442 in 2018 while those of people who drove to work were $40,184. 

While I can bore you for an hour with details on how working from home was always in our inevitable future, the takeaway is that many of the apprehensions you are going through right now have all been felt before. Indeed, as many are finding out the hard way, working from home isn’t “remotely” as easy as it was being sold as. From being constantly interrupted, to not feeling the flow because of not being surrounded by like-minded people, there are many things that can get in your way and there are plenty of things that can (and will) go wrong. 

However, none of these are the insurmountable challenges they may seem to be. We at SweetProcess live and breathe remote work and have for some time now. Our remote team has members from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Europe, India, and Africa, and remote working is an art that we have perfected to a science! In the sections below, we will discuss some of the challenges that you will most likely encounter, and how to overcome them. Let’s get started!


Chapter 1: How the Environment Affects the Human Brain

Chapter 2: Creating a Home Office That Actually Helps You Get Things Done

Chapter 3: Instilling the Right Mindset for Working from Home

Chapter 4: Creating a Work From Home Tech Stack

Chapter 5: Getting Your Productivity Apps in Place for Working from Home

Chapter 6: Creating a Work from Home Process and Sticking to It

Chapter 7: Dealing With the Unexpected as you Work from Home


How the Environment Affects the Human Brain

Even though work seems like work wherever it may be done, our surroundings, in fact, have a large say in how we behave. Says Benjamin Meagher, a social psychologist at Hope College, “There is no such thing as neutral, empty space—wherever you are, you are in a particular place that has a psychological meaning.” The changes that we make to our homes reflect our personalities, but they also reinforce our traits back on us by serving as a constant reminder of who we are and who we wish to be. 

As if that wasn’t enough, certain architectural elements can actually trigger psychological responses, too. For instance, the doorway effect is a well-documented phenomenon where we tend to forget what we are supposed to do the moment we walk through a door. This is understood to be caused by a sudden reset in our cognitive processes. Essentially, our brains purge memory that is unrelated to the room we walked into. Of course, this doesn’t happen with all our memories. But it still shows the powerful effect our rooms have on our cognitive processes. 

For most of us, our homes have been our refuge from work lives – a place to get back to after a hard day’s labor. Consequently, we often design our rooms and personal spaces to be the literal antithesis of the workplace: calming and unstimulating. In other words, we get caught in a feedback loop where we design our rooms to put us in the state that we desire to be, but then the rooms also reinforce the state that we desire to be in. Obviously, such an effect can be detrimental when you work from home. 

Another important, yet overlooked, aspect of working from home is choice. Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Harvard University, conducted a two-year study of a Chinese travel company that had a strong remote working culture and found a positive correlation between working from home and productivity. Of the 500 workers who participated, only 30 changed their mind and came back to the office, and there was a 13% increase in productivity. 

However, when measured against the backdrop of a global pandemic, productivity when working from home actually declined, which was traced back to an absence of choice. Of the 1,000 employees Bloom had approached, only half had agreed to participate in the first place. Even amongst the participants, a sizable portion decided to work from offices again. Also, those who agreed to work from home were trained and given the required equipment, whereas today, everyone has simply been thrust into this way of life without any preparation. Some employees were sent home with all the necessary equipment they need to work – but many were not. Also, the mental stimulation of working around like-minded people, as it turns out, is a critical component of productivity. 

Clearly, the key to making “work at home” work is to first create a space that aids productivity. The next chapter details how to do so. 

Creating a Home Office That Actually Helps You Get Things Done

Creating a Home Office That Actually Helps You Get Things Done

If you already have a study or a library at home, then you should be all set. If not, then read on.

Let’s start by selecting a space. The key thing while selecting a workspace is that it should be free from distractions and lend you some privacy. Some places that can be ideal will be…

  • Guest bedrooms, or any spare room you might have in your home. You might consider doing away with the bed, though, since beds are a major distraction (and temptation) while working. 
  • Drawing rooms are ideal spaces for home offices as they are seldom used. These can be problematic if you also have a TV in there, which other members of your family might want to use. 
  • Garage. Most famous companies began in a garage. Clearly, they have some links to great ideas and insane productivity! Also, garages are the last places where you might be disturbed as no one will be using a vehicle in times like these.
  • Attic/Basement. Again, both are great places to do distraction-free work. The only downside is that basements and attics are often shaped oddly that can make creating your office a little difficult. 

Places like the kitchen and your bedroom are best avoided as they are frequently used and might also tempt you to procrastinate. Some people might even suggest working in a tool shed, which might work if you live in a temperate region. But this might not work elsewhere, as the weather is about to warm up as we head into the summer months.

Once you’re done selecting a space to work, it’s time to remake the space to suit your work. Key things you will need to consider are:


A home office should ideally have plenty of light coming in, preferably natural. Yes, this will rule out basements and attics, but we can try other things there. Natural white light controls our circadian rhythm, which is our biological clock. Lower levels of white light can lead to feeling drowsy, discouraged, and lethargic at times since it suppresses melatonin in our body, which is a hormone that is understood to be responsible for helping us sleep. If natural light isn’t possible, then regular LED bulbs can do the trick as well. 

Work desk:

There’s a lot of advice floating online on what should be on a work desk which ranges from as minimalistic as possible to keep it cluttered as apparently it aids creativity. Truth is, your work desk is your personal space and you probably already know how you like it. In this particular situation, creating an exact copy of the desk you had at work will do just fine. We are trying to bring your office home, after all. What should be missing is personal memorabilia, photos, and other effects that might distract you from your tasks, unless they actually help you work better.

Your room surroundings:

Again, it’s best to remove any items that aren’t directly related to your work. Have pictures hung on the wall? Replace them with certificates or a whiteboard. Got a shelf full of novels and cookbooks to the left? Use it to arrange your files instead. Have an empty wall to the right? Put a calendar on there. Really ask yourself what helps your work and what doesn’t, then add/replace accordingly. That being said, things that motivate you to perform better can be left. For instance, many people like to keep one photo of their family to remind themselves of who they are fighting for. Also, not an entire room needs to be changed. If you’re low on space, then rearranging one small corner of your preferred room will do the trick.

Instilling the Right Mindset for Working from Home

Instilling the Right Mindset for Working from Home

Clearly, working from home is quite a bigger challenge than most will think. While creating a space that can help you get in the zone will help, there will be other distractions that you will have no or little control over. That’s why it is crucial to work on framing a psychological strategy first. Here are a few of the more dynamic challenges you are likely to face and a few ideas on how to overcome them.


Quite the broad topic, we can clump in quite a number of things into here. However, let’s focus on the most likely causes that you might face during the current lockdown. For the purposes of this article, I like to segregate distractions into two categories: those caused by others, and those you will be responsible for. 

Distractions caused by others:

Since everyone is home, your family members might inadvertently get in your way. You might have kids running and playing around, your significant other might need help with a chore, or elderly people in your family could need help. 

Possible solutions:

  • Selecting a workroom that is not in the high-traffic area of your home can help you stem the fight at the source. Assuming this doesn’t work, however, it would be best if you had a family meeting and explain the gravity of the situation to everyone. 
  • People are losing jobs, the economy is in tatters, and chances are things won’t be back to normal for a while. If you have a job then you will know how lucky you are, which is something you should impress upon everyone in your family. 
  • Having a time period during which no one should be allowed to come anywhere near you, save for utmost emergencies, can help greatly here.
  • If you have younger kids, then it will be a good idea to set them on a project that can keep them busy. Here’s a great article on how to keep kids busy while you don’t want to be disturbed. 

Distractions you will cause:

These distractions are typical habits and mistakes you unwittingly make to sabotage your productivity. Your cellphone and computer can cause you to lose track just as easily as they can help you get the job done. All it takes is a sensationalized news piece to get you to lose track. A simple walk to the fridge can turn into an hour-long conversation. You get the gist – and you may struggle with some of these in an office environment as well! For each one, we’ll give you some suggestions on things to try to combat the distractions and get back to work.


Consider putting your phone on airplane mode while working. You can also disable push notifications from sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you need your phone to be connected to work. If you like fixing yourself a snack while working, or you might have to put in a few more hours than you typically would, carry your lunch to your room. 

Overestimating your own capabilities:

Chances are you might think it won’t be difficult to work from home now that you have more time to spare. We keep hearing that people want to use their normal daily commute time each day to do more work – yet many people are struggling to actually accomplish that. Falling into the trap of thinking that you have it all under control stems from a lack of appreciation of the challenges we are likely to face. 

Since you are going to be working in a completely new paradigm, it won’t be prudent to assume you already know what problems you are likely to face even before they present themselves. It would be best if you focus on building momentum over a period of one week, and then see what problems you are facing instead of going in guns blazing screaming, “I got this!” For example, if you use your morning commute time to get in more work, great! If you use that time to sleep in or spend time with your family, that’s great too! Try not to feel guilty if your “extra time” doesn’t look how you want it to yet.

Not knowing when to take a break:

When working in an office, people usually take breaks by talking with one another or by going over to the water cooler. While such behavior can easily be labeled as “distractions,” usually we are talking about work which helps us get more ideas and feel more motivated. However, this won’t be the case when you work from home. It is advisable to get up every 30-40 minutes and take a five-minute walk around the house to freshen up.

Understand your productivity rhythm:

Working from home does afford certain benefits that working from offices simply don’t. You can, for instance, decide when to set your work hours in some cases. We all have our productivity peaks and troughs and ideally, our work hours should be based on them.

Not everyone can start work at 5:00 in the morning, just like some won’t be able to work until late o’clock. Now will be the perfect time to explore your ultradian rhythms and find out what type of person you are. An ultradian rhythm is any rhythm that is shorter than the 24-hour period of a day. It has long been postulated that human beings work best if they adopt a 90-minute productivity cycle, where we work for 90 minutes and then take a break.

You can also try exploring what time periods work best for you. For instance, are you a morning person who prefers to jump into work first thing after getting up? Or are you a night owl who prefers the quiet tranquility of the night? Mapping your productivity activities to periods that you feel most productive can do wonders. Remember, it is the output that counts, not the hours you put in here. 

Acknowledging the fact that your peers are no longer around you:

When you work with like-minded people, you have an easier time being motivated and being productive—an advantage that’s no longer there. Working from home is a lot like playing a major league game without having your teammates around you. Sooner or later, not having supportive people in your immediate proximity is going to take its toll. You will find yourself burning out sooner than you did before. Or you may hit mental blocks that cause you to waste hours looking at the computer screen. Talking to your partner or children can help, but it may not be the same as talking “shop” with a trusted team member. They can be there as emotional support to help you “vent,” but may not be able to offer solutions, ideas, or tangible support like your colleagues can.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, consider having your team members on Skype or Zoom as you work. You’ve spent months or years building relationships with your team, and it’s completely normal to miss talking to them about both work and non-work-related things. We understand that talking online is not the same as having them sit next to you. However, simply speaking to someone you know from work can do wonders for staying focused and maintaining a sense of normalcy. 

Creating a Work from Home Tech Stack

Creating a Work from Home Tech Stack

There are certain hardware pieces, such as high-performance routers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and PC devices that can help make your work-at-home chores easier. However, since we’re in lockdown, chances are you won’t be able to purchase them and will have to make do with what you have. If the lockdown in your area has been relaxed, then consider getting the following things as soon as you can.

A fast Wi-Fi router:

As everyone in your family will be needing a good internet connection, it’s best to go for a router that can handle the extra load. Wi-Fi routers adhere to a global standard which goes as 802.11 followed by post-fixed letters – b, a, g, n, ac, ax – each of which denotes its version. Version “b” is the first version, while “ax” is the latest and fastest. While “ax” routers are backward compatible, connecting to an older device will mean your speed will be capped. 

Most routers have two different wavelengths: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz router mode offers a better range albeit has lower data speed—between 450 Mbps and 600 Mbps. A five Ghz mode can offer blazing-fast data speeds of up to 1300 Mbps but usually cannot make it past thick or multiple walls, which limits their range.

The five-GHz mode will be the most preferred mode for working from home as you will be video conferencing, downloading large files, and using demanding apps throughout the day. Consider installing the router in or close to your workspace so that there’s no disruption. You can also have a separate password for your router’s 5 GHz mode to ensure no one else can log on to it and start hogging up all the bandwidth. Better yet, do it with both of them! Here’s an excellent guide for buying a router

A separate monitor and keyboard:

Assuming you don’t have a desktop computer, it will be best if you got a large monitor and keyboard. Both Windows and Apple laptops come with HDMI and/or thunderbolt ports, which can connect with separate monitors, and USB ports, which can be used for keyboards. 

There is some evidence to support the claim that large monitors can improve productivity. A study by the University of Utah found that large monitors can save up to 2.5 hours a day. People who used 24-inch monitors were found to be 52% faster than those who used 18-inch monitors. Bigger monitors allow you to fit more content which means less time spent scrolling and jumping around. 32-inch monitors are fairly common these days, so they will make an ideal complement to your home working rig. Curved screen or dual-monitor setups can also be looked into if you really want to take your productivity threshold to the next level. 

Similarly, full-length keyboards with chiclet keys will be preferable over regular laptop keypads. This is because they are not cramped, so less time spent correcting typos, the keys are large and well within reach, and the chiclet design means the key travel is short and crisp. If you are used to working on a laptop, then these will also feel instantly familiar as they follow the same design principle but are larger for better key access.

More RAM:

The vast majority of productivity apps are accessible via browsers, which are quite demanding on a system’s memory. You will also be using multiple tabs that can quickly overwhelm your system if it doesn’t have adequate memory. Most laptops today have expansion slots for more RAM so do consider adding in as much memory as your system can handle. While 8 GB is standard today, you can go the distance and put in 16 GB as added insurance. 

By now you should be all set with a workspace and decent hardware setup. Now let’s get you the apps that will help you work better and faster!

Getting Your Productivity Apps in Place for Working from Home

Getting Your Productivity Apps in Place for Working from Home

To say the cloud has revolutionized the world would be a colossal understatement. In fact, it is a cloud-based technology that is the backbone of the work-from-home movement and chances are you are already using an app that is hosted on the cloud. 

We will be dividing the apps into five categories: emailing, storage, collaboration, process documentation, and communication. Be advised, you will need to work with your organization’s IT department to find out whether the suggested apps can work within its digital strategy. 

Chances are your company is already using productivity apps. However, another possibility is that the management never considered remote working as the dominant working style before betting on them. In this case, you can either weigh the pros and cons of your current apps against the ones suggested below and find out which might offer more value.

Let’s start.


Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail are the most preferred apps for e-mail, and each has its respective advantage. 

Gmail: This is the number one email app today for a good reason. It has an awesome search engine, the interface is clean and uncluttered, and with the addition of AI-powered autocomplete and reminders, it’s clearly the better choice for helping you get through those pesky morning inbox routines. 

Like its competitors, Gmail has the basics covered. It comes with easy folder creation and management. All the tabs are easy to reach. The layout can be customized in a number of ways. And it can be integrated with other productivity tools out there pretty easily too. With awesome features like snooze, scheduling, and a ton of add-ons, Gmail really is a no-brainer. Here’s an awesome article on how IT policies can be updated to use Gmail for remote working.

Outlook 365: If you are familiar with the Outlook client of antiquity, then its cloud-based younger sibling will seem instantly familiar, yet more feature-packed. Compared to Gmail, Outlook will seem a little cluttered. But it in fact is a well thought out system that presents all that you need when you need it. The app has a powerful calendar tool that integrates with the emails, so you can schedule your meetings and other engagements right from it. 

Microsoft has done a good job integrating AI systems into Outlook 365 too. You will find your digital assistant automatically sorting all your emails for you, and you can also easily find all the related emails from a certain sender with a click. 

Apple Mail: Like all things Apple, the mail app sports a clean, minimalist design that can really stem inbox anxiety. To those who are already using Apple Mail, there’s probably no looking back. The features that come with it are well thought out. The client can let you manage multiple accounts, be they POP, IMAP, Exchange, or iCloud based with ease. 

Being an Apple product, it can also integrate with any device seamlessly. Most users also favor its offline mode as emails are downloaded into the user’s device from where they can be accessed. Finally, its smart folders can automatically catch and segregate emails based on defined values, which can save a LOT of time.

Storage and Productivity:

Given that these are uncertain times, you should always make a copy of your documents on your own computer, and preferably on a detachable hard drive. That being said, there are cloud-storage options where your data can be stored safely and shared easily too. While there are quite a few cloud-storage solutions available, none of them offer the productivity benefits of Google Drive.

Google Drive: With 15 GB of free storage space and an office suite built right in, Google Drive really is all that you need for creating, storing, and sharing documents. Google Docs, spreadsheets, slides, and forms will seem very familiar if you have used MS Office or Apple iWork with a few advantages. You no longer need to attach files to send over email. Instead, you can share a link with your coworkers who can update the same file in the cloud. Secondly, if you’ve ever lost content because you closed a document without saving it, then the Google apps will appeal to you as all content is automatically saved. 

But Google Drive allows you to do a lot more. Here are a few tips to help you work smarter:

  • Chat within a document: You can open a chat window in any of the apps and start a conversation with people the document is shared with. 
  • Turn on Google Docs offline sync: This lets you edit documents in the event of a sudden internet loss. 
  • Use Google OCR to turn images into the text: No one likes to type out text from an image after all. Google’s optical character recognition can help you turn images and PDFs into text with a click. For example, you can take photos of a page from a file with your phone, then run it through Google Drive’s OCR to turn it into editable text. 
  • Upload bigger files to Drive, then share them through email: Most email clients and apps have file size limits for email attachments. If you have to send a file bigger than what your email app allows, upload it to Drive first, then share the link in your email. 
  • Use Gmail search to find files in your Google Drive: An easy thing to miss, but mighty useful. When you do a search in Gmail, Google will show you all files from your drive correlating with your search in the results. Use it to find files without having to leave Gmail.
  • Use the “Explore” function in Google Docs to search the web: You don’t have to leave a doc in order to find relevant information. Click on the “star” button in the bottom right portion of your doc to perform a web search straight from your document.
  • Use “Dictations” when you don’t feel like typing: Google Drive has a built-in voice recognition engine that allows you to dictate straight to a document.
  • Use “Text Shortcuts” to auto-complete repeated phrases: If you are editing documents and need to constantly type an instruction, then try using Shortcuts to replace abbreviations with your intended phrase. 

We are only scratching the surface of what Google Docs is capable of, so feel free to search for solutions to problems you encounter. Chances are there’s a solution for it, either built into Google Drive or has an add-on. 


To work from home effectively, you will need a digital office space where you can collaborate with your colleagues in real-time. The apps mentioned above do offer some collaboration but are utterly lacking when it comes to planning, project management, and getting a bird’s eye view of the entire organization. This is where cloud-powered team collaboration tools come in. These tools are designed from the ground up to enable teams to work together regardless of where they may be located. There are hundreds of such apps out there. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the two most popular apps out there.



Features: Very intuitive UI, achievement tracking, powerful automation takes care of repetitive tasks.

Price: Free with basic features for small teams and individual users, $10.99/month/user for more advanced features.

Free trial: Yes.

If you are researching remote project management software, then you will find apps that promise the world to you—and deliver as well. The problem is, most of the time you really don’t need the features that come with them. The guys behind Asana, it seems, were well aware of this issue. A no-frills, straight-to-the-point app, Asana helps you do a few things extremely well: create projects, delegate tasks, track the work, and finish it off. 

Asana’s UI is built entirely around “Tasks.” All the tasks that a manager assigns and those they are assigned to can see what tasks they have to finish in a list or kanban format. Each task can be commented upon by users and can be amended by them as well. 

The Timeline and Portfolio tabs can help managers get a top-down view of the project. Timeline is essentially a Gantt chart that everyone in a team has access to and is constantly updated in real-time as people finish their tasks. Managers can set dates and move tasks around from within Timeline which in turn will automatically change the tasks and alert the team members they are assigned to. Portfolios are Timelines for managers and show how projects assigned to them are progressing. 

While Asana is lacking certain project management features, it offers a range of useful integrations that can help you get the functionalities you want. So, you can integrate with Slack for time tracking, Harvest for a chat, and so on. This is partly why Asana is so good. It doesn’t load you with features you don’t want. You can simply build your own production environment that is best suited for your working style by leveraging the provided integrations. 



Features: No per person pricing, comes packed with management features, powerful mobile app.

Price: $99/month

Free trial: Yes.

If you’d rather have all your productivity features under one roof, then we cannot recommend Basecamp enough. Firstly, Basecamp gets the basics right. 

All work in Basecamp is divided into three sections: HQ (headquarters), Teams, and Projects. HQ is your company and it can be broken into teams that are assigned their own projects. People can be added to teams and projects without needing to be added to HQ too.

Basecamp also has an awesome team chat mode called “Campfire” following its outdoorsy motif. Team members can discuss projects here and chats can be saved for future reference. Message boards are another feature that acts as Basecamp’s forum. Members can start topics, post ideas, ask questions, and have more detailed discussions on here. 

To-Dos is where all your tasks are listed. Tasks here can be either checked-off from the list by the person they are assigned to, or the admin, or they will be automatically updated as they are completed. 

You also have your calendar called “Schedule” right there in the main menu along with all the other tools. The schedule isn’t quite as powerful as Google’s, but it offers enough functionality to help you get past your tasks with ease. 

Like Asana, Basecamp offers robust integration so that you can add functionalities as you see fit. Some great options include Time Camp or Tick for time tracking, SupportBee for CRM, Easy Insights, and Ganttify for project visualization.

Process documentation:

At first glance, it will seem like project management software will have your business processes taken care of. However, this is rarely the case. Even though modern cloud-based project management has come a long way from its heydays, all you can do with them is assign and track tasks. 

Using SweetProcess to document your business process:


Coming up with overarching policies, procedures, and processes that can be tracked at every step of the way is something still beyond a basic project management software’s scope. It’s kind of impossible to keep track of whether your tasks and actions are even adhering to your company policies unless they are mapped against them at every step of the way. 

This is where dedicated process documentation tools can help you. Policies, procedures, and processes are distinct structural entities that add value to an organization in different ways. Policies, for instance, are supposed to help you guide your organization in a certain direction. Processes consist of all the smaller tasks to help you get there, and procedures are the step-by-step instructions to complete each task. In other words, policies consist of processes that consist of procedures.

SweetProcess not only allows you to individually document and edit your policies, procedures, and processes but assign them to teams and team members and track changes as they happen. 


It’s easy to think that communication is something you’ve probably got covered with your smartphone, email, Whatsapp, and social media. However, productivity-related communication requires a little something extra. While Skype was the reigning king of video conferencing, it has since been uprooted by the likes of Google Hangouts and Zoom. Here’s the rub on each of them.


Features: 100 users per session, custom backgrounds, extremely low latency. 

Price: $14.99/month/host

Free version: Yes.

Zoom is really having its moment in the sun because of some nifty features that it offers. Unlike Apple’s Facetime, Zoom is available on Android as well. It has low latency and allows free video conferencing as long as your sessions are under 40 minutes and less than 100 participants. 

You can also change your background to keep your chats fun and lively, which is a step up from the emojis that other video conferencing tools offer. Zoom has a paid version as well. For $14.99 per host, the meeting duration can be as long as 24 hours. You also get dedicated support and 1 GB of cloud storage to store your recording. 

Google Hangouts

Features: 25 users per session for the free version, no time limits, integrated with Google apps, web-based. 

Price: $6/month/host

Free version: Yes.

Google’s offering, on the other hand, has a 25-person limit on each talk, but there’s no time limit. It also integrates with Google’s calendar app as well and being web-based it is entirely device agnostic. If you have a Google account, you can start using Hangouts immediately which is another plus. The paid version of Hangouts costs $6 per user and adds 30 GB of cloud space while also increasing the number of participants per session to 250.

Both Hangouts and Zoom are ideal video conferencing tools for any organization, and you will be good to go with either.

Creating a Work from Home Process and Sticking to It

Creating a Work from Home Process and Sticking to It

As important as mindset and tools are, they won’t be of much use unless they are implemented properly. Productivity processes are quite personal and there’s no method that will work for every person every time. But there are some well-established techniques that many people who work from home regularly swear by. As there’s no peer pressure to help you get over the hump as you face challenges, there are a few things you will need to do throughout the day. These are:

“Eat the frog” first thing in the morning:

Famously coined by Mark Twain when he said, “If it’s your job to eat the frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning,” the phrase “eat the frog” means doing something really difficult. It’s that one thing you really wish you didn’t have to do, but you have to anyway. 

Eating your frog in the morning does two things. Firstly, your willpower is replenished, and you are fresh, which will make doing something hard a lot easier. Secondly, once you realize the worst is over, the tasks that come next will seem easy, which will stem from procrastination. 

Work in 90-minute sprints:

We touched on the ultradian rhythm briefly above, but let’s take a deeper look. It’s easy to think to work through the day and then crashing on the couch to get some shut-eye is the normal way humans work since that is what we were always taught. 

Except that it goes against our biology. Our actions are essentially a constant wave of arousal which motivates us and stress which causes us to stop. A lot of research has been performed on how the human brain works. As it turns out, there really is a template for productivity that is built into our neural network which has been labeled as the basic rest-activity cycle or BRAC. 

Our brains like to work in sprints of 90 to 120 minutes, then like to spend 20 minutes winding down. This process applies to everything we do and is responsible for how productive we are. In other words, you don’t have to motivate yourself constantly to work; it’s already built into your system, and all you need to do is find your BRAC rhythm. 

Stress, burnout, and blocks are all the unpleasant things we experience when we try to work against our natural rhythms which only causes us to waste time. Keep a journal of how you feel through the day, and over a week to a month, a pattern should present itself. Then assign your most important tasks to times you are feeling most fresh and take 20-minute rests every 90 minutes.

Assign periods to speak to your colleagues:

There will no doubt be times when someone just has to speak to you, but this should be the exception, not the norm. It can take up to 25 minutes to regain your focus after you have been disturbed. So, a single distraction can easily disrupt your entire day as you struggle to bring your productivity cycle back online. Ideally, you should tie your talk-time to the rest periods of your work routine as not only will this ensure your work remains uninterrupted, but speaking to your colleagues will also freshen you up quickly for the next round. Discussing work-related problems with your team can help you come up with ideas and breakthrough walls as well. 

End the day with a reward:

Even when following the advice laid out above, you will find yourself being drained as you move through the day. Your work hours will go a lot easier if you have something to look forward to at the end. The reward itself can be anything, but it has to hold meaning for you. If you like to unwind with a glass of wine, do it; if you like to game, go for it; if you want to spend time with your loved ones, then spend time with them. 

Journal and plan for the next day:

You will need a journal to understand your productivity cycles, but it will also be a good way to maintain a log of challenges you faced and solutions that worked for you. By acknowledging your challenges and your wins, you can slowly build confidence and also figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. 

Finally, be sure to create a task list for the next day. Again, plan your activity in 90-minute blocks. A critical mistake that people make while giving themselves goals is that they only write down the activity, but not the time it is supposed to be done in. It would be better if you wrote a task then added the time you expect it to be completed. When you journal at the end of the day, take note of whether you completed the task in the time allotted. If you couldn’t complete a task in time, then do write down the reasons too.

Dealing with the Unexpected as you Work from Home

Dealing with the Unexpected as you Work from Home

Prepare as we may, life always finds a way to blindside us. The only solution is to expect the unexpected. And if something unexpected still happens, then all we can do is learn from it and prepare for when it may repeat itself. There are a few things that we who have been remote working for a long time have faced, so thankfully there is some know-how on how to deal with the challenges of remote working. These will include:

The power going out:

Now that one-third of the world’s in lockdown, it doesn’t take much to imagine that the power just might go out. After all, the guys and gals who run the power supply are working under extraordinary circumstances. 

The solution isn’t that hard, though. Just get an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) unit for your computer. A 1 KVA unit should suffice as it can power a PC for 30-45 minutes. It will provide more than ample backup for a laptop’s battery.

Chronic eye strain:

You’re going to be spending your commute time in front of your monitor. Also, as you will be taking special measures to keep yourself alone, there will be no familiar faces to keep you looking around. Not to mention, as the boundaries between work and home time blur, you will slowly find yourself spending more time on the computer. While you may pat yourself on the back for being more productive, you will also find recurring headaches becoming a normal part of your life. 

Eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, is already rampant in the corporate world, but it becomes a really persisting problem when you work from home. This is why those 90-minute work cycles we talked about earlier are so important. You need to give those eyes some rest! 

Also, consider turning on dark mode on both your computer and your browser. Dark Reader is a browser extension that makes your browser go to the dark side. The white parts become black and vice versa. The rationale is to minimize the amount of white light coming from your screen which is what causes eye strain.

Motivation disappears:

There’s no one around, your boss is in another part of the city, your family can’t walk in the door. As idyllic as this may sound, it will also cause you to question why you should work as hard as you did in the office. 

It probably won’t manifest as a question, rather you will just feel not as motivated as you are used to feeling. Humans are social animals after all. The need to show-off and compete is what keeps us on the tips of our toes. 

It will help greatly if you first acknowledge that this can happen to you. And instead of reading motivational posts on Facebook that can quickly eat up hours of your work time, a better strategy will be to remind yourself who you are fighting for your family or your significant other, for instance.

Work becoming your entire life:

You have all the time in the world to complete that project now that you’re working from home. You will feel tempted to fit in as much work as you can into a day in order to have more time later on. Before you know it, you’ll be working far more than you ever thought possible, so much so that you will have no time for anything else.

Again, your employers will probably love this, and you too might fall into thinking you’re winning the productivity battle. But in the absence of variety and stimulation, your work quality will begin to fall dramatically. The only way to stop this from happening is to take regular breaks, make family time a priority, and have a hobby. Not only will this help preserve your sanity, but it will do wonders for your productivity too. 


Even before the pandemic came along, it was a given that most people will work from home. But this was expected to happen in the next five years or so. No one was expecting it to happen this soon. On the previous timeline, people and companies would have experimented with different productivity tools and techniques, perfected them, then armed their workforces to operate remotely. Now that everyone’s been thrust into this role, the vast majority of people are simply not prepared to handle such a distinct style of working. 

We should also assume this is how the world will be moving forward. While working from home presents challenges, the advantages it offers both to employees and employers are just too important to ignore. 

Employees can set their own schedule, save time and fuel spent on commuting, and work on their terms. Their productivity will increase as their quality of life improves substantially thanks to a better work-life balance. 

Employers, on the other hand, will notice their expenses fall as they no longer have to provide their workers with expensive offices and tools. They will no longer be geographically bound and will be able to hire people in other parts of the world as their remote working models mature. In other words, neither will be willing to go back to an office-style setup. Coworking spaces may exist, but they will be optional.

For the first time in our history, we can truly say that the future is really here! And all we can do now is adapt as there are no options. We have added as many things we learned over the years in the sections above. Do feel free to share what you may know in the comments section below. 

We have put together a free checklist for making “work from home” work. Having a list of things to be mindful of before starting your day can help you decide whether you finish what you set out to do or fail outright. The choice is yours!

Daily Checklist for Making Work-From-Home Work

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