Working from home is a blessing for employees with childcare responsibilities, senior roles or those living in remote locations. It allows you to save on commute costs and time while also making it easier to balance work and life. Working from home also has its challenges. The isolation of working alone can make it difficult to stay motivated, while visual distractions can be more present than usual when you don’t have fellow colleagues as a distraction. Additionally, staying focused and productive can be challenging when there are no set schedules or deadlines to meet. Working from home successfully requires the right mindset, planning ahead, tools and resources, and an understanding of the pros and cons of this position. Here’s a guide to successfully working from home:
Create a workspace you love
A good part of being productive is feeling comfortable and at ease; the right environment can make all the difference when it comes to getting tasks done. Create a space that you love and feel inspired by; don’t settle for an area that doesn’t feel like you. If you have children at home, make sure to create a child-friendly zone so they aren’t distracted by what you are doing.
Set clear objectives and expectations
This is true in any line of work, but is especially pertinent when working from home: set clear objectives and expectations for yourself and your job. Have a clear plan for how you are going to achieve your goals: what hours you will work, what types of tasks you will complete, and the deadline for these tasks. If you are working for a client, let them know how you will get the job done and when you expect to complete it. If you are managing a team, keep them informed of your progress and any roadblocks you may encounter along the way. Establish clear guidelines for communication and feedback so that you stay organized and on top of things.
Set office hours
Office hours are a great way to stay focused and on track while working from home. Set office hours for yourself; let everyone around you know when you are “open for business”. If possible, set a schedule for your office hours so that they match up with the hours when your team (if you manage one) is available to you. If you are working for a client, you can use this time to focus on their project and get as much done as possible. If you are working on your own projects, set office hours to keep yourself on track and on schedule; they can also be a way to avoid getting sucked into unproductive tasks such as social media browsing or binge-watching Netflix streams.
Stay connected with video conferencing
Video conferencing can be a great way to stay connected and productive when working from home. If you are managing a team, video conferencing can help you stay connected to them and their progress. If you are working for a client, it can be a great way to stay connected; instead of endless emails back and forth, you can use video conferencing to stay organized. If you are working from home, you may be at a disadvantage when it comes to being included in group calls or video conferences. If this is the case, try to get an earphone and microphone; they are available at a relatively low cost and can help you stay on track and engaged.
Don’t be afraid to take breaks
Working from home can be isolating, and in some cases, depressing. To avoid this, take breaks and get outside for a bit. You can even take a short walk around the neighbourhood, or pop over to a coffee shop for a few minutes to get out of the house for a bit. If you are working for a client, still take breaks; don’t let yourself get bogged down and become resentful towards your work. When you come back to the task, approach it with a fresh perspective and a more positive attitude.
Working from home has its challenges and requires discipline and structure. However, it can also allow you to be more productive and take time to recharge and decompress after a long day at the office. Don’t let the challenges of working from home discourage you from taking advantage of this opportunity; instead, learn how to work from home successfully and reap the rewards: more time with family, less commute time and cost, more work-life balance, and a more flexible work schedule.