Over the years, I've written a lot about workplace flexibility and working from home.

But for most of us, the idea of working from home has always been something we'd plan for, not something we'd just suddenly have to do.

Heck, at least we always thought it would be voluntary. However, thousands if not millions of Americans suddenly find themselves in the position of having to work from home.

So, I asked people who've been working from home for years to offer their best advice, and I received more than 300 replies.

Across the board, people advised (a) finding a dedicated space, (b) trying hard to impose structure on yourself, and (c) working to ensure you don't become isolated--and that you don't let your work life or your personal or family life overwhelm each other.

Here's a sample of 10 of the smarter and more intersting takes they offered, on what could be a brand new situation for a lot of people:

1. Stay calm

"Staying home can be very lonely. ... Try and remain calm. Listen to music, play a funny movie in the background--in the early years of launching my own coaching practice, old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, literally saved my life and allowed my business to thrive. But, do whatever it takes to create a warm environment."

--Carlota Zimmerman, career strategist

2. Build a stress-free zone.

"Make sure you have a stress-free zone, at work (yes even your home office). ... Look for a break room.. No need for a fancy setting. All you need is some soft lighting and something comfortable to sit on. Put together a nice relaxing playlist and listen to it."

--Dr.Tasha Holland-Kornegay, author, speaker and mental health professional

3. Get up

"Don't work from bed. You want your bed to be a place of peace and calm, not work stress."

--Liz Grossman Kitoyi, co-Founder and CEO of Baobab Consulting

4. Get some green

"If you work from home, especially in cold-climates, you can go days without going outside. Getting a snake plant, money tree or areca palm can make a big difference for your work space."

--Michael Alexis, CEO of Team Building

5. Set up a place *not* to go

"Not everyone has an office, so it's all right [to work at] your dining room table or couch. My advice is to ... try and create some space between the places you are working and the places you are relaxing, even if it feels a little silly to be on two different sides of the couch."

-- Hailley Griffis, communications lead at Buffer and podcaster

6. Get ready

"Wake up and get ready just like you're going to work. If you stay in your slippers all day you will not be as productive."

--Elijah Schneider, CEO & founder of Modifly

7. Close the door

"The most important thing is to have dedicated office space where you can CLOSE THE DOOR and have set office hours. ... I did the opposite and allowed work to swallow my home life for a while. ... Stupid mistake."

--Kathy Kristof, editor of SideHusl.com

8. Create routines

"Establish a pre-work routine and an after-work routine. Working in the same place where you wake up, eat, and sleep can make anyone go crazy without proper boundaries in place."

--Marissa Owens, Opportunity Business Loans

9. Stay connected

"Keep a team chatroom open. There is nothing more important in a group remote project than casual communication. Not just official emails and work updates, but the ability to sit back and chat." 

--David Rabin, VP of Global Commercial Marketing, Lenovo

10. Don't forget about security

"Hackers will be exploiting the security vulnerabilities that come with remote work. When people are scared and isolated, it's much easier to target them because they are not using good cyber hygiene--it's the last thing they're often worried about in a panic."

--Aleksandr Yampolskiy, CEO of SecurityScorecard

Correction: An earlier version of this column misattributed the quote from David Rabin, vice president of Lenovo.

Published on: Mar 16, 2020
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.