6 Practical, Essential Tips for Working from Home
Who wouldn’t want to work from home? You can work in your pajamas, lounge on your couch all day, and still get paid – or at least that’s the theory. In reality, it takes discipline to be a successful remote worker.
The number of U.S. workers who spent at least some time working from home reached 43 percent in 2017, according to a report from Flexjobs. The percentage working from home 50 percent of the time or more was much lower, at just under 3 percent. But hiring managers expect work-from-home opportunities to increase rapidly in the next 10 years, to one-third of all jobs.
If you’re among the growing number of remote workers: congratulations. There are plenty of positives that come with off-site employment, from time and money saved on commuting to enhanced work-life balance. But these benefits come with unique challenges. Not everyone can remain productive when they are no longer working shoulder to shoulder with peers under the watchful eye of an on-site supervisor.
The following tips for working from home can help you stay motivated and focused.
- What to Wear
Getting your workday started is often the biggest obstacle to working from home. You start out with a plan to slowly ease into your day, and before you know it hours have passed and you are still in your pajamas, sipping warmed-over coffee and scrolling through personal email.
The best way to break this cycle is to suit up for the workday ahead. You don’t need to wear heels and a pencil skirt, but getting into business casual work attire signals to others and to yourself that you are now in work mode.
- When to Work
It can be difficult to remain on task without the stimulation and peer pressure of the workplace. Many of us associate home with relaxation and sustenance, so it can be tempting to take frequent breaks or reward ourselves with snacks. This can be lethal for productivity, and not so healthy either.
One of the best tips for working from home is to create a work schedule and stick to it. Set a time by which you need to be dressed and at your workspace each morning. Assign yourself easy-to-manage tasks in 20-minute segments. Break large, complicated projects into easily achievable steps and set deadlines for each step.
Work in breaks throughout the day, and avoid taking breaks at other times. Assign yourself a quitting time each day and try not to allow work time to bleed into time you’ve designated as personal or family time.
- Where to Work
After pajamas, the next most cited working from home perk is likely working from bed, or while lounging on the coach. But for most of us, it’s hard to focus when we’re too comfortable. If you try to work where you sleep, you’re likely to feel sleepy when you’re supposed to be working, and charged up with work energy when you need to be sleeping. Walking just a few steps to a designated work area will increase your productivity.
Set up your workstation where your internet connection is strongest. You’ll also want a spot that is quiet and as far away as possible from high-trafficked parts of the house. If you don’t have a separate room with a door, try to create a physical barrier through the arrangement of furniture or by hanging up a curtain.
- Get Out
Ironically one of the best ways to stay on task when working at home is to not work at home at all. Sometimes it’s healthy, and energizing, to be around other people, even when you are engaged in a solitary task. Try breaking things up by finding alternative workspaces: coffee shops, libraries, or a shared community workspace.
- Tech Tactics
If you’re one of the first employees in your organization to work remotely, or if you’re a contract or freelance worker, do some research to make sure you obtain all the equipment you’ll need to do your job efficiently. From proper lighting to ergonomic furniture to phone docking stations, reliable top-ranked office gear can help to optimize your work-from-home experience.
One of the most important tips for working from home is to stay on good terms with your IT colleagues, as the need for technical troubleshooting is inevitable.
- Check In
Even if your manager doesn’t require a weekly or daily progress report, consider suggesting this deliverable as a way to keep yourself on task. Use chat services to make sure your coworkers know you are keeping up with your expected workload. Maintaining an online presence even when you cannot have a physical one will ensure that you aren’t overlooked when it comes to promotions and high-profile projects.
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