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20 Tips for Working from Home – Scientists’ Edition

Takmela Rahman
Tags: Successful Research Tips

These are uncertain times. When will the coronavirus pandemic be a thing of the past? How many days will we be at home? What can we actually get done? What tasks will we be neglecting? With 100 doubts, questions, and concerns racing through our heads, it’s hard to be productive.

As scientists enabling scientists, we understand what it’s like. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 20 tips for making your work from home experience more positive.

  1. Get out of bed! This is the cardinal, number 1, no exceptions, work from home rule. Yes, staying under the covers is extremely enticing. It’s warm and cozy. The pillows are smooshed just right – who’d want to leave? Trust us though, no matter how much work you actually get done, it’ll feel like you made no progress once your feet finally touch the ground. Get up, stretch, walk around. It’s healthier for the body and the mind.

  2. Once you’re out of bed, it might be tempting to go straight to your laptop and start your day. You may feel productive at first but the grogginess sets in pretty fast. Try to keep a few elements of your usual morning routine. Brush your teeth as usual and shower as if you’re going into work. You’ll feel more awake for the rest of the day.

  3. Don’t forget to eat breakfast. It’ll keep you satiated until your lunch break so that you don’t have to get up to hunt for snacks.

  4. Set aside at least 30 minutes for exercise every day. It’ll help improve your mood, reduce stress, and remove lethargy. The best time to get this in is in the morning before you sit down to work. It’ll increase your energy and productivity. Now will you wake up to an earlier alarm is another story…

  5. Build a plan. Are you going to be starting a new experiment? You can work on detailing the setup of your experiment while you’re home. Brainstorming is half the battle!

  6. You probably have a lot of data from your past experiments. Organize it. Make figures. It’ll help you better understand your data and it’ll come in handy when you’re ready to publish. Two birds, one stone.

  7. Lab work always takes precedence over writing. And then when the time comes to publish, you’re scrambling to get the words out. How about starting a few drafts now? You may not have all the data but you can focus on making what you have great.

  8. You know how you never have time to brush up on your coding skills? Oh, wait, now you do!

  9. Use your time at home for professional and academic development. Take an online class, read about the new studies in your field, attend webinars – the possibilities are endless. It’s your time to be inspired.

  10. Read the articles that have been sitting open on your browser tab for the past two months. Yes, we’ve been there. Sometimes there are so many tabs open that you can’t check what each one is without clicking on the tab anymore. Now’s the time to read through them all and clear out that clutter. And of course, it’ll clear out the space to open new interesting articles for future reading.

  11. Now’s a good time to update your CV. You usually don’t have the time but no excuses now, right? Add what you’ve done so far and see what other skills and experience can enhance your profile. Who knows, you may be able to work on that skill right now with an online course!

  12. You know that proposal you’ve been meaning to write? Write it now! You can also look up future grants and funds you’d like to apply for and write proposals for those as well. Get ahead of the game!

  13. Use social media to promote your work online. You don’t usually have the time but now you do. Create a place where you can collaborate with others in your field.

  14. Sit by your houseplants and in natural sunlight. It sounds too simple to matter but you’d be surprised – your environment matters. You may not be leaving your house as much these days but try your best to bring the outside inside.

  15. Yes, there’s easy access to the kitchen. And yes, easy access to the kitchen usually means access to enough marshmallows, chocolate, and cookies to fulfill your heart’s desires. Try to stay away from these goodies and opt for fruit and more wholesome alternatives instead. It’ll help you stay energetic throughout the day.

  16. Try to schedule at least one meeting with a colleague per day. It can be something as short as 10 minutes but it’ll help you stay connected and motivated.

  17. Take a short walk outside to get some fresh air. Be sure to follow CDC, WHO, and governmental guidelines though! Avoid touching doors and doorknobs and keep your distance from others.

  18. Set up your home office. Make sure you’re using a mouse and a monitor. Working from your laptop constantly can get tiring. Like many other companies, we’ve made sure that our employees can work from home. Check out the pictures some of our team members shared for ideas for setting up your own!

  19. Write things down. Don’t just rely on your computer. Physically putting pen to paper can help your ideas flow.

  20. Plan your day. Figure out what work tasks need to be prioritized. What do you want to get done today? Do you have a committee meeting presentation to work on? A progress report to write up? Put it in your plan. Don’t expect yourself to stare at your computer screen all day. Take your lunch break. Schedule time to stand up, stretch, eat. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

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Kayla Hager – Technical Marketing Manager

“This is my setup for 30 minutes of exercise a day! Complete with my yoga buddy.”

Jeff Keyser – Director of E-commerce

“I’m one of the team members who works from home on a regular basis. I made sure to set up a friendly work environment to make myself more productive.”

“I enjoy this place quite a lot. Of course, there are too many screens, but my sumotori gives me tons of energy.”

“I also make sure to have a real break over lunch. It helps me to keep focused on my daily tasks.”

Takmela Rahman – Technical Marketing Specialist

“I like to stay on task by writing things down. It doubles as a place to doodle when I need a break!”

“My home office is set up right next to our biggest window. It’s surrounded by flowers and natural light, making it a very pleasant place to work.”

Morgan Mathieu - Application Scientist Manager

“Members of the application scientist and tech support team typically assist you from our headquarters offices. Because of the current situation, we had to adapt and make our own workspace at home, create an environment conducive to work, and remain productive.”

“This is my setup. It has got everything I need including my good old Bonobo for good vibes and Metallica in the background to keep me going. I also make sure to perform my daily workout routine to kick-start my day in the best possible way and get those happy endorphins lifted.”

Rosaria Esposito - Application Scientist

“The lockdown caught me when I just moved in a new flat, with some of the furniture still missing. I had therefore to improvise a desk to keep my working corner and dining space separate.

I took some of my favorite gadgets from the real office to reconstruct my usual habitat, and you will always find a cup of coffee where I work :).

I love the final result, with a working spot full of light and from which I can see some trees.”

Hartmut Pohl – Application Scientist

“I am normally assisting our customers from our European headquarters office in Lausen, Switzerland and out in the field. But as a former academic, I am basically a doomsday prepper of the home office world. Being used and prepared to get things done when needed has been my philosophy throughout my professional life. And I guess there’s no denying that this is the work place of a biologist.

I enjoy being able to have lunch breaks with my family. And to keep the office spirit going, we have regular coffee break conference calls with the office colleagues, additionally to calls of pure business nature. Because the amount of things and projects that get triggered by mere office chit-chat should not be underestimated.”

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