We live in a new normal that currently is ever-evolving. In response to COVID-19, the majority of companies have implemented remote work structures – and rightfully so. Having worked remotely for the past 6 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about creating an effective at-home work environment. While working from home has its advantages, it is not without challenges – especially in our current environment.
While we don’t have control over many things these days, here are six ways that you can make sure working from home works better for you!
1. Dress the Part.
Yes, part of the benefit of working from home is that suit and tie is not required; plus, you save money on those dry cleaning bills. In fact, business casual can mean your favorite pair of sweats. But, there is something to be said for dressing for success. Dress comfortably but not so comfortably that it encourages laziness. Get up and get yourself ready as if you were going to be seen. It’ll help create a routine for your day that may be missing for some working from home. I love those plaid flannel pajamas too, but trust me, you’ll tend to be more focused and on task when you’re showered and dressed for your day.
2. Consider the Space.
You know what best helps you be productive and what can serve as a distraction. First, think about where your office is placed in the home. Is this a high traffic area or one that will allow you privacy? Next, anticipate your needs… Is there a good chair with proper support? If not, invest in one. Do you require better lighting? Buy a lamp. Want a view? Move the desk by a window. Also, consider the supplies; have pens and paper nearby, keep applicable files and paperwork within reach, and have access to power chords that’ll keep you going. The decisions about how to make the space work best for you are best made by you.
3. Stay Focused.
Be sure your home office is protected to help you stay as focused as possible. Try not to allow too many of the other activities that happen at home to invade your space. Let that load of laundry that needs folding stay in the other room until you have time for it. Those boxes that need to go into the attic can wait in the garage for a bit longer. Household chores will always be there, and if you attend to them now just to get them checked off the list, you’ll possibly never get important work-related duties done. To help, at the end of each day, write a list of tasks in order of what needs to be accomplished the next day. It will help you hit the ground running and let you crank out things quicker so you can eventually fold that load of whites.
4. Take a Break.
When working in a traditional office setting, the breaks are often built in. Whether a co-worker stops by to talk about the game last night or you venture into the break room for a quick snack and chat, interaction with colleagues helps you pace your day. However, when working from home, your coworker may be your cat, who is not the best conversationalist (at least, mine isn’t). Don’t be afraid to give a five to ten minute break every now and then. There’s a reason these are required by law. Play a quick game on your phone, do quick and simple exercises or read a few pages of your new book… You’ll see an improvement in your productivity when you work in some time to refresh and refocus. Set a timer so you don’t get too lost in the activity.
5. Use Technology.
Relationships are key in life, and this includes your colleagues. While convenient, working from home can also feel isolating. We live in a world heavy on emails and texting, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and actually call someone. Use Facetime or Skype to see a friendly face to have a meeting. So much can be lost or misinterpreted in the written word. A phone conversation or a video chat can quickly clear up matters, have a project move in the right direction and improve relationships!
6. Draw Lines.
Working from home can be great, but it can also be all consuming. Due to the flexibility, you don’t have to keep standard “office hours,” which also means you can work longer and into the night. You don’t leave things at the office because things are in the other room. For yourself and for sake of your relationships, set boundaries and expectations. Be clear of your work hours with your loved ones and your coworkers and stick to them.
Current circumstances can make focusing and concentration hard; don’t let your work space make it more difficult. Set yourself up for success!