Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, more and more companies are encouraging or requiring employees to work remotely from home, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter. While occasionally disruptive, remote work serves as a great opportunity for employees and employers alike. To make the transition easy, here are some of the best practices to consider.

Set rules with household members:

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It's best to start by talking to your household about what you expect when on the clock at home. If other adults will be around, make it clear to them that you need to work and ask that they treat you as if you were in the office and not actually there.

Make a designated workspace

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If you don't already have a designated home office, you need to create a makeshift one to start working remotely. The best place is somewhere away from most of your house traffic where you will have minimal interruptions and can easily set up your work materials to stay undisturbed. A computer room is ideal, but other ideas are basement rooms (depending on if you have a finished basement), laundry rooms, or your kid's playroom(they'll survive having to hand over their play area for a while). If nowhere else, your bedroom works in a pinch.

When to work:

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Try to work the same hours you would in your office. It's easy to get carried away and work longer than your normal hours when doing so from home. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when it's time to call it a day. However, with remote work comes flexibility. If you are a night owl, you may benefit from starting your work hours later in the day. Inversely, if you're a morning person, you might find you are more productive and can get work out of the way first thing in the morning. Additionally, it may help to write down your schedule or things you need to accomplish that day at the beginning of your shift.

What to wear:

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It's easy to get out of routine when you don't have to look presentable in front of coworkers and customers. When I first started remote work, I often sat down at my computer without having brushed my teeth or gotten dressed. As nice as this may seem, don't be beguiled by this newfound freedom.

The Wall Street Journal writes of the importance of dressing the same for home-based work as you would in the office, with the belief that "dress for success" also applies to working at home. Honestly, I don't see the true need for this unless you will be video conferencing with others. I do, however, believe that following a basic routine of getting out of your pajamas and practicing basic self-care and grooming leads to a better attitude each day.

Take breaks

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Even if you're self-employed, take advantage of your breaks. I repeat: Take advantage of your breaks! When I first started blogging and freelance writing, I was so excited to be back in the workforce after spending two years solely as a stay-at-home mom that I often worked long hours and skipped taking breaks altogether. At first, it was easy to do–but I don't recommend it. It's easy to get carried away with work and skip breaks when they aren't being enforced by bosses or supervisors. However, walking away and taking that break can make all the difference in your work! Stand Up is a great free app to take advantage of; it sends you reminders to walk away from your desk.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is a necessity when working remotely for a company that requires access to their business network. Your employer may give you a VPN to use for work, but if not, I recommend ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or IPVanish.

Video chat with coworkers

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Remote work gets lonely, even for the most solitary person. Even if you don't get along with your co-workers, I advise video chatting with them instead of emailing in certain instances. For one, emails leave room for miscommunication. And, as much as you might think to yourself "okay Karen" about that annoying co-worker in the office, you may be surprised at how much you miss socializing with the Karens of the world– if only for a brief moment.

In Summary

Not everyone responds to remote work the same way. Some people relish in this type of work. People who exhibit high levels of self-discipline tend to fare better, while others loathe the idea of having to work at home. The best advice for anyone transitioning from the office to home is to know what is expected of you and find what works best for you. Everyone works differently, and what works for one remote worker may not bode well for another.

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Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.