Thanks to advances in mobile computing and communication, a growing number of workers are enjoying the perks of doing their jobs from somewhere other than their employer’s location. The stay-at-home orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have launched an instant surge in the size of the remote workforce. Suddenly, and without preparation, people are working from home. Whether the situation is temporary or lasting, here are some tips for making it work.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
When you go to work, you have your own workspace. You don’t have to pick up your things and move them because someone needs your office area. When working from home, you need to designate your work area so you can keep everything organized. The dining room table, breakfast bar, sofa and bed are not offices.
Ideally, convert one room—or a section of one—as your home office. It’s also preferable to have a door to close, so you have privacy and the ability to focus as needed.
Communicate Office Rules
People working in an office together have an unspoken etiquette. They knock on a closed door, respect each other’s workspace and keep the noise level down. When you’re at home, it’s another story. Everyone in your household needs to understand that you are not to be interrupted during work hours. Interruptions should be clearly defined, such as walking into the work area and making noise that can be heard in the office. Remote workers often complain that their mere presence at home makes them a target of people who don’t appreciate that they are actually making a living.
Follow a Routine
What do you normally do when you go to work? Boot up your computer, grab a cup of coffee, share some quick conversation with co-workers and get down to work? Maybe you start by sorting and answering emails and attend a regularly scheduled meeting. When working remotely, you need a similar routine. Tackle each day as a workday, which it is. Ignore the location of your job. Focus on the tasks that your employer is expecting you to handle.
Schedule Your Week
Try to plan out your work in advance. Create a schedule that includes all meetings and conference calls, project assignments and deadlines. Allocate each item to a specific day (and time, if you can). Then, just focus on the tasks for today rather than fret about all the work you have to do this week. If you have apportioned it realistically, this type of weekly and daily schedule will keep you on track.
Dress for Success
As tempting as it may be to lounge around in your weekend clothes or pajamas, it’s not conducive to productivity. The way you dress has a definite impact on your mindset. Wearing clothes that are far too casual for the office puts you in the non-work mindset. Get up everyday and dress like you’re going to the office.
Work on Your Video Presence
Working from home, whether by choice or necessity, is going to require you to participate in video calls at some point. If you spend your time on the call fussing over your appearance, you’re not focused on the meeting itself. Practice your video presence by recording yourself. Look at the background. It should be professional and minimal, so that your viewers are listening to what you’re saying and not looking over your shoulder at an empty soda can or family photos.
During any workday, you need a break to let your mind and energy recharge. An advantage to working from home is that you can use these short breaks (15 to 20 minutes) to take care of household chores, like throwing in a load of laundry, walking the dog or vacuuming the floor. Just watch the clock to avoid extending your breaks because you got caught up in your non-work tasks.
Remove the Social Media Temptation
People are naturally social. When they are removed from a populated workplace, the silence can be unsettling. So, they go online to chat with friends and co-workers. The next thing you know, an hour (or more) has passed without having accomplished anything productive. Limit social time to your breaks. Sign out of your social media accounts. And let family and friends know that you will respond to them when you’re not working.
Prior to the stay-at-home orders that arose from the pandemic, about 5 million people in America—3.6% of the workforce—worked from home, at least part-time. That figure represents a 173% jump since 2005, a growth rate that’s 10 times faster than the remainder of the workforce. It’s reasonable to expect that a significant number of employees who have experienced working from home during the pandemic will want to continue this way, if possible. Employers may have also recognized the value of allowing a remote workforce, to some degree. So, if you’re going to work from home, keep these tips handy and make the most of it!
Has your shift to working from home made you rethink where you live? Epcon Communities builds spacious, well-appointed new homes in great locations around the country. Choose a floor plan with a flex room or add a second-floor bonus room. With the landscape maintenance often included, you’ll have more free time, whether you spend that on work or play. Think about the possibilities and reach out to us to bring life and work into balance.