The good part is that defining your workspace is often less about décor and more about point of view. In June, the writer Nicole Cliffe asked on Twitter how people who work from home about the rituals that mark the start and end of work time. The replies were delightful: sensory changes like lighting a candle or spritzing perfume when it’s time to start, going for a regular walk or run at the end of a shift, and physically hiding the laptop during non-work hours. Cliffe’s own trick is to “immediately take down my ponytail and shake my hair out like a sexy librarian in an adult film.”

Image: The Cut

OPERATOR: I need you to tell me what you’re wearing, O.K.?
ROBERT: You know . . . just regular clothes.
OPERATOR: Outside clothes or inside clothes?
ROBERT: Hold on, I’ll check. (Pause.) Pajamas. I’m wearing my pajamas. I could swear I’d changed into regular . . . I thought these were jeans!

—from “I Work From Home,”The New Yorker

Put on some pants

We must dispel a myth here: working from home does not mean working in your pajamas. Actually, working from home should not mean working in your pajamas.

Image: Giphy

“The single best advice I got when I went remote was from [a friend] who said, ‘Put on pants,’ by which I’m pretty sure he meant, ‘Act like you’re going to work,’” says Chris Groskopf, a data engineer who has worked remotely from Texas and DC for both NPR and Quartz. “Get up, put on clothes you’d leave the house in, take a look in the mirror, and go to your work space,” he writes in his seminal guide Making Remote Work Work—even when that workspace is simply a desk in the same room where you just put on the clothes. Rituals make all the difference.

So do friends 

Katherine Foley is a brilliant science writer—if you’ve never read her story on Liquid Ass, you’re in for a treat—and another of Quartz’s satellite stars. One of her closest colleagues is fellow science reporter Akshat Rathi, whose London office is some 3,600 miles away from Foley’s in Washington, DC. The two have a standing 30-minute weekly phone call to catch up on work and life.

“The trick to maintaining this feeling of proximity in the face of distance? Specific, intentional communication,” Foley says. “While snippets of small talk are not overtly part of your job description, working seamlessly together usually comes down to having strong bonds. And building those bonds is often a matter of small interactions.”

Image for article titled A simple guide to working happily and effectively, even if you’re not in the office
Image: Katherine Foley

Her advice could apply just as easily to long distance friendships or romantic relationships. We can see people all the time but not feel close to them; what matters is how often you connect. Water-cooler chat or regular catch-ups over dinner aren’t the only way to keep consistent contact going. Not being physically present forces you to be proactive in keeping connections alive—and the effort is pretty much always worth it.

Image for article titled A simple guide to working happily and effectively, even if you’re not in the office

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