Working from home is more common than ever and it provides great benefits for employees such as work life balance opportunities, cost savings on commuting, opportunity for uninterrupted output, lifestyle flexibility, and more. However, there are some challenges that come with these benefits that require self-discipline and a shift in your normal home life.
Use the tips below in order to work from home in the most optimal manner and work in the most efficient and effective way.
- Create a Dedicated “Workstation” in your Home.
Set aside a place to work that is as free from distractions as possible. You should be sure that your home workspace has everything that you need and feels comfortable, but not so comfortable that it offers temptations to slack off. For example, taking your laptop and sitting down on the couch in front of the television will present many temptations.
- Create a Daily Work Schedule and Minimize Distractions.
Working from home and on a computer provides a myriad of disruptions; it’s important to stay focused and switch off distractions. At home, there’s the fridge, the television, other family members, a pet, chores and so on. To get the work done, you’re going to have put all those things out of mind. Setting a schedule helps to promote the thought that after you get certain tasks done, you can take your lunch break where you can do your “house-stuff”.
Because it is so easy to get off task while working from home, having a checklist of the tasks that you need to accomplish each day will help you to visualize your progress and help to set boundaries. Working from home can also make it difficult to set boundaries on work; it can start to creep into the rest of your day. Having a schedule allows you to maintain balance. Keep focused!
- Don’t Forget to Have your Team and Social Interaction.
It is normal to feel a bit separated from the rest of the team or to feel the loss of normal office communication that happens organically when you are working from home; it can feel lonely. To combat this feeling, be sure to schedule calls with fellow team members where you not only catch up on the projects that you are working on, but also can share some tips on how you are accomplishing your remote working and what challenges you are facing… Chances are, remote work has made them feel a bit isolated too.
Reach out to colleagues via phone, email, and utilize video chat!! Understand that the tones that you read in your head are not always what was intended, so pick up the phone to clarify. Keep in contact with your manager and ask them to keep in contact with you.
Scheduling briefings at the same time on the same weekday contributes to creating a routine, which provides you and the team with something familiar. That, in return, puts the team at ease and reduces stress. Video calls are one of the best ways to maximize efficiency because they recreate the routine office feeling remote teams are missing.
- Create a professional work environment.
Although you are working in your own home and do not need to dress in work attire, you are expected to be available for video calling. You should be wearing appropriate attire and be cognizant of your background.
When IM’ing, it is easy to fall into a casual form of talk. Remember to be cognizant that Skype, Jabber, emails, and other communication tools can be monitored, and you should always be communicating in a professional and appropriate manner.
Maintaining professional standards when working from home contributes to being efficient and puts you in the right mindset.
- Try to set aside long periods of time for work.
Working from home gives you more flexible hours, but if you are constantly interrupted it will be harder to get things done. Try to make sure you get a few large blocks of time. For example, if you need to get in 8 hours of work, try setting blocks of, say, two hours at a time that you will work uninterrupted. If you need to run errands or take care of other things, do them outside of the blocks of time during your “breaks.”
Additionally, be sure to discuss the expectations for the core hours that you will be working with your manager. It is important to be available and engaged for certain hours that are the same as your teams’.
- Remember to take breaks
A common fear when working from home is that we are not being seen as productive, but no one is at their utmost level of productivity when they have worked for hours on end, without food or getting up!
Make sure you eat a good breakfast, so you don’t have to stop working when the hunger pangs kick in, and schedule yourself a reasonable lunch break. Be sure you’re taking short breaks throughout the day to stand up and walk around. Take the time to eat a healthy lunch and rest your brain and eyes from the computer screen.