Working from home is a concept many employees dream of. Who wouldn’t want to wake up when they please and work in the comfort of their own home? As the internet and technology take over the modern workplace, this practice is becoming increasingly common. In fact, a Gallup study found that between 1995 and 2015, the percentage of employees who telecommuted rose from 9% to 36%.
As great as this idea sounds, it definitely has a number of drawbacks. Regardless of how organized you are, managing a professional career out of your home can be a much bigger challenge than you think.
If you have spent a good deal of your career working in an office setting, or are starting your first professional gig, there are a number of things to keep in mind when transitioning to the role of a remote worker. Here are five crucial tips to ensure your performance doesn’t suffer.
Designate a Specific Workspace
As great as working from the couch sounds, it’s important to create separation from where you need to be productive, and where you relax. Reaching for the remote and playing another episode on Netflix is all too easy when you’re on the clock.
Creating a designated area strictly for work is crucial for eliminating distractions and staying motivated. If you have spare room, make that space your dedicated office. In most cases, you will be able to deduct the square footage come tax time.
If you don’t have an extra room, find a quiet corner to set up a desk. Limiting distractions at home is undeniably tough. The key is finding a spot where they are not constantly in your face.
Develop a Routine
When you go to an office every day, your daily routine is more or less established. It involves waking up at the sound of your alarm, showering, eating breakfast, and getting dressed so you are ready to begin at 9am. At home, no one is waiting by your desk for you to arrive.
Keep in mind, working from home is a responsibility in itself. If you are given this privilege, your employer is trusting you to make responsible decisions. Even though your commute doesn’t require venturing into the real world, try to establish a good routine and stick to it. Act the same as if you are going into a professional office. Eat breakfast, take a shower, get dressed, etc. If you need some help, it never hurts to make a list. Apps like Any.do are great for creating a set of tasks to help organize your days.
Humans are creatures of habit. Developing a routine will get you in a good rhythm to stay productive.
Devise a Solid Communication Strategy
Depending on the nature of your job, you are still part of a team whether you work from home or not. Collaboration is easy when you are five feet away from your colleagues. At home, it’s a different story. One of the most difficult aspects of working remote (or managing a remote team) is finding the most efficient ways to streamline tasks and communicate effectively.
For this reason, it’s essential to have a reliable strategy established beforehand. It’s surprisingly easy for emails and messages to slip through the cracks otherwise. Collaboration tools like Workzone are perfect for tackling these types of issues. Regardless of where you are working from, the intuitive dashboard gives you full visibility of every task at hand so you don’t miss a beat.
At the end of the day, communication is the wiring that holds a team together – especially when the members are spread out. Before electing to work from home, be sure your company has a good system in place. Otherwise, important projects run the risk of falling apart and you will (more than likely) be held accountable.
Block Up Your Work Time
In most professional settings, there will be times where you feel like you are being pulled in too many directions at once. If you are adjusting to a work-from-home lifestyle, this can be extremely stressful. There will be a huge temptation to just walk away from the chaos and lay down on the couch. This is why scheduling time blocks is the key to getting things done efficiently. Also, it will help keep you sane and healthy.
Try dividing your time into 25-minute blocks in which you will focus on one task exclusively. For instance, the first block or two could be strictly set for answering emails, whereas the blocks in the late morning/early afternoon could be for tackling day-to-day responsibilities. More importantly, after a 25-minute period, take five or so minutes to get up and move around. A study published in The Lancet found that sitting at a desk all day is just as bad for you as smoking, and can increase your risk of premature death by 60%.
Blocking your time all goes back to the power of a routine. Once you have gotten yourself into a healthy groove of time management, hitting your goals will become much easier.
Don’t Become a Hermit
One of the most prevalent issues with working and living in the same space, is you don’t really have much reason to leave. That being said, this lifestyle makes it incredibly easy to slip down the path of becoming a shut-in.
People are meant to be social by nature. To maintain your health (both physically and mentally) while working remote, it’s crucial that you make a conscientious effort to interact with the world beyond your home. Make it a point to take daily walks and get out on the weekends. Doing so will keep your social skills sharp and ensure you maintain a firm grasp on reality.
There is nothing quite like being your own supervisor. While there are plenty of difficulties attached, working from home is quite liberating. You have the ability to travel wherever you want (as long as there’s internet), and work without the stress of a manager breathing down your neck. As great as being a remote employee is, you ALWAYS need to know when (and how) to “turn off” your work mentality. When the office is in the same place you live, it can be tough to draw the line. Give it some time. You will find the perfect balance sooner or later.