Tips from experienced remote employees

While most of us are new to working from home, some employees have been doing it for years—and with great results.

You may not know, but the entire Instructional Design team at TCS Education System has worked remotely since its inception—in addition to many others across the system. The switch to working with a completely remote office was new to them but not necessarily a foreign concept. We polled them for tips on how to work remotely based on their years of experience logging in from home.


Lord Giddie, Ph.D., Senior Learning Experience Designer

Mark Labbett, Senior Instructional Designer

Jennifer Griffith, Instructional Designer

Tracy Lynn Deis, Senior Instructional Designer

Colette Landry, Online Services Manager

Brandi Watson, Instructional Designer


  1. Build structure
    • Lord Giddie, Ph.D.: It helps to create some structure for each day so that you know what needs to be done and when. For the most part, how I structure my day is heavily impacted by the projects that I work on and whether they are individual projects versus team projects.
    • Mark Labbett: Even if your job is flexible and you don’t have to “punch in,” get up at the same time and start and stop work at the same time every day (when possible). Obviously, there may be exceptions but try to stick to a general start and stop time.
    • Jennifer Griffith: I wake up to my alarm every morning, and I have my weekly routine. A set schedule also makes it easier to shut down at the end of the day. It can be hard to create that space between work and home sometimes when you’re remote, but it’s really important. You need that time away from the computer to recharge and be ready for the next day.
    • Tracy Lynn Deis: Oftentimes people who work from home find themselves scattered because their day is often broken apart. Structure breaks into your schedule as well—it’ll keep you from burnout and falling behind. Try to stay motivated with non-distracting things (music, aromatherapy, etc.) throughout your day.
    • Colette Landry: When I transitioned to working from home, I found it best to stick with the same 8 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule I had in the office. Whatever your work routine was, stick to it. If you spent your first couple hours answering emails, keep that up.
  2. Dedicate a space to work
    • Griffith: Have a dedicated space for working, whether it’s a home office, your kitchen, or a desk in your living room. That way, you have all of the supplies and materials you’ll need to focus on your work. And you’ll know where everything is.
    • Deis: Set your home office up as if you were in a real office. Working from bed, no matter how great that sounds, can actually become uncomfortable and cause health issues. Make your workspace as ergonomic as you can.
    • Brandi Watson: Wake up and get dressed (waist up) daily with your morning drink of choice (for me, it’s coffee). Create an actual office space away from the bedroom and refrain from doing housework (cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, etc.) while working. With your dedicated space, turn off the television and monitor social media time—and be sure to communicate expectations with anyone who shares the space with you.
  3. Take breaks
    • Labbett: This is important! Sometimes we are working and just get so focused on work that we forget to eat. Try to stick with a regular breakfast and lunchtime in which you can step away, breathe, and refresh your mind. At the office too, it is normal to get up and talk with someone or go get a glass of water. At home, it is very easy to lose track of time. Set an alarm to get up and walk around for a few minutes.
    • Griffith: When the weather is nice, I’ll take a walk around the block. If I can’t go outside, I step away from the computer screen for a short period of time. Even walking to another room for a few minutes can help break up the day.
    • Landry: Some days are stacked with meetings, so having a scheduled break time doesn’t always work. Do some squats or something to get the blood moving if you have a few spare minutes, since you don’t have the office to walk around or office friends to go catch up with. My corner coffee shop is still open, so I’ll treat myself to an occasional coffee but will have to finish something (like answer 10 emails, return phone calls, or close out a project) to “earn” the reward. It sounds silly, but being left to our own devices means we can sometimes lose track of work.
  4. Be patient with yourself
    • Labbett: There is no question working from home brings different distractions than at the workplace. But if you think about it, there are many distractions in the workplace. We have just adapted to them and learned to tune them out. We can do the same when working from home. Keep outside noise to a minimum, although some may find light music or an open window with traffic noise relaxing. Create an environment that is comfortable but not too comfortable.
    • Teis: Establish work-hour boundaries with your family and friends. They often have the misconception that since you work at home (especially during these difficult times) that you can provide child care, run errands, and do other things that you would not be able to do if you commuted to the office every day. Set the expectations with loved ones so that you are disturbed as little as possible during your workday.

And as an added bonus: check out this list of tips from a presentation by Dr. Sean Nufer, Director of Educational Technology at TCS Education System.