With much of the global workforce shifting to remote work in light of recent events, we polled our freelance community of linguists, most of whom have been working from home for their entire careers, for their best advice on making the transition. See what our “working from home veterans” from around the globe have to say about getting the job done in a nontraditional work environment.
Take Advantage of Family Time
For those with families, long hours, commuting, and travel for business can take away from what’s most important in life—quality time with loved ones. Missing family dinners, school recitals, and other activities with young children are sacrifices that working parents make on a day-to-day basis. Working remotely can offer a more flexible schedule where employees are able to benefit from extra time with family without having to miss a work deadline. Victor, a freelance expert based in Mexico, adds that “having a home office with a door [is essential]. Otherwise my kids will walk in and distract me.”
Focus on Health
Whether your job is classified as high stress, sedentary, or manual labor, physical and mental health can take a back seat. As a result, many people struggle to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise frequently, and find time to “unplug” once a day. It is easier to commit to a lunchtime run and prep a home-cooked meal when working from home. You can even take a hands-free call while standing or pacing around to get your steps in. It’s all a little less awkward when you don’t have anyone watching you. Carlos, a linguist based in Mexico, uses his “smartwatch to monitor overly long periods of sitting,” and we think that’s genius!
Aurelia, a TransPerfect Team Lead based in Scotland, opens up about her health routine: “With the extra time from not having to commute, I like to start my day with a morning yoga session or brisk walk around the park close to my flat.”
Aurelie, a linguist based in the US, makes sure to pencil in time daily for “YouTube workouts and fresh air.” Now is the time to take advantage of all the free home workout videos on YouTube and Instagram Live. Here are a few of our favorites.
Stick to a Routine
Whether it’s exercise, mealtimes, or when you decide to perform certain work tasks, it’s important to make a routine and stick to it. Wake up at the same time, curate a background-music playlist, and try to give yourself a realistic “log off” time daily. This will help you measure daily productivity, maintain concentration, and maximize focus.
Cyndi, a TransPerfect Senior Director of Sales Training and Development, emphasizes the importance of sticking to your typical morning routine. “It’s just as much a mental adjustment as it is a physical one. So, it’s important to set your mind right from the start of each day. Get ready and dressed for the office, even if it’s just across the hall.”
Stéphane, a linguist based in Montreal, adds, “Don't wait until you absolutely need to take a break to take a break. Even if you have a lot of work, taking just a few minutes to breathe can help you be more productive afterward. In the end, a break is not time lost, it's time well invested, as it reduces your stress and improves your concentration.”
When working remotely, your workspace, inbox, and schedule can get messy fast. At home, “you have total control over your workspace,” says Simao a TransPerfect Training Specialist in the UK. Keep it neat, organized, and dedicate certain spaces for certain tasks. Set aside an allotment of time for responding to emails and keeping your inbox organized.
Andrea, a German linguist living in the UK, likes to “keep up with small household tasks, like loading and emptying the washing machine and dishwasher. I do this during breaks, as it forces me to concentrate on the task and gives me a break away from my computer.”
Avoid These Common Bumps in the Road
While most of our surveyed experts agree that the benefits of working remotely outweigh the pitfalls, here are a few quick-hitting points on how you can get hung up (and how to avoid doing so!).
Overworking: “Sometimes I find myself working excessive hours, so I always try to keep a regular schedule and establish some working hours,” says Evelyn a Spanish focused Freelance Expert from Argentina. Take frequent breaks, stick to a schedule, and try to give yourself a designated “log off” time. Find time to catch up on your favorite novel or Netflix series instead of answering emails before bed.
Distractions: Social media, news websites, and FaceTiming with friends and family can emerge as distractions when employees are distanced from the workplace. To avoid losing focus, set aside small windows of time throughout the day for these activities so they don’t interfere with your work schedule.
Lack of Social Contact: Schedule video calls with friends, family, and colleagues, or go on a social distancing walk with a neighbor or roommate. A neat experiment is asking your colleagues to turn on their webcams on your next team call. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to feel connected.
Our business development team in London hosts their Friday wrap up call using WebEx.
Today’s global workplace requires many professionals to adapt to new working environments, and it is more important than ever to reach out and support one another. We want to give a special thanks to our freelance community and TransPerfect team members for sharing some of their tips.