This article was originally published June 10, 2019 and has been updated.
Working from home is a delicate balance of comfort and efficiency. At times, you might want to simply get out of bed and get to work on your couch while in your pajamas. Other times, you may feel distracted by the chores piling up around you, preventing you from focusing on the work at hand. When it comes to working remotely, there are many pros and cons.
5 Ways To Be Successful When Working From Home
Here are five ways to be successful when your house is your office:
1. Minimize distractions.
It can be really challenging to work from home. You see the dishes piled up in your kitchen sink, begging to be washed. Your eyes notice the overflowing basket of laundry that needs to be tended to. There are new noises and distractions and a routine you’re not usually there for.
Do your best to minimize your distractions. Turn off the television, shut the windows, and plop yourself in a quiet room to avoid interruptions. Your chores will be there when you can tend to them after you’ve completed your work obligations. Those texts awaiting your replies will be there to answer after work hours. Close out the social media tabs open on your computer, and get to work.
If you’re also working from home and managing your kids at the same time, set up a schedule as soon as possible with your parenting partner. Everyday might look a little different as you navigate challenging workplace demands, meetings, and taking care of kids. Openly communicate about what time you need to focus every day and how you are going to manage the routine.
2. Dress for the day.
Even if you’re working from home, you should get ready and dress for the day ahead. Just because no one can see you (unless you’re video chatting), doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed with messy hair and pjs on.
Think about it: aren’t you more productive when you feel good? Aren’t you extra efficient when you’re ready for the day? Shower, manage your hair, and dress for work. Personal care and hygiene is bound to set the tone for your day, because you mean business, even when working from home.
3. Create a dedicated work space.
Not everyone has a spare room in their home that they can transform into a personal office. If you do, great! Utilize that space as your work space. If you don’t, do not fret. Set your work space up on your kitchen table or dining room.
If you need to pull the blinds to avoid outdoor distractions, do it. Get your computer ready and charged, grab your pens and notebook, and get yourself situated at a table.
Try to avoid setting up camp on the couch. Although it’s comfortable, laying on the couch is probably not the best form and ergonomic practice when working from home. Plus, how efficient do you think you’ll be while on the couch? Probably not nearly as successful compared to a table, and better yet, a home office.
Create a work space at home that works for your comfort and efficiency.
4. Set your hours.
You’re probably used to having work hours and a schedule set in place when you’re in the office. Make sure you dedicate yourself to working the hours you need to while working from home.
As aforementioned, it can be really easy to multitask around the house, like cooking a meal while on a conference call or folding laundry and checking email. Make sure that while you’re on the clock, you’re actually in work mode.
Right now, things are more challenging than usual for all of us. Know that it’s okay if your kids have to join you for a call. Be gentle and understanding with others as well.
Clock in and out just as you would on the job at the office. Treat your house as your office while working from home and earn your hours accordingly. Yes, time theft is a thing, even when you’re working from home.
Make sure you dedicate yourself to working the hours you need to while working from home as it’s an inevitable part of developing self-discipline as a remote worker or freelancer. Twine has a good article on secrets to self-discipline.
5. Be professional and courteous.
Whether you’re in the office, driving in your car, or working from home, remember to always maintain professionalism on the job. No one wants to hear you eating potato chips on a conference call. The number one thing to remember when you’re on a call is to mute your line when you’re not speaking. It’s basic etiquette but easy to forget if you’re not used to it.
5 Tips To Feel Connected When Working From Home
With the recent outbreak and many more people working from home, it can be easy to lose that outside connection. Especially for those who are not used to working from home, it is a big transition. But, there are ways you can stay connected with your colleagues, clients, and networks in general. And it is important to stay connected with them, both for the purpose of your work and for your own mental health and sanity.
It is very easy to feel isolated and lonely while you are working from home, especially if you live alone. There are easy ways for you to stay connected, or at least still feel connected — and all can be done from home.
1. Virtual Coffee Chats
Do you usually grab a coffee with a colleague daily to catch-up on things? This does not have to stop just because you are home now.
Block time in your calendar for a half-hour “coffee chat” with your colleague, boss, client, or whomever. Use this time to catch-up on work but to also simply just chat like you would in the office.
This can be done via video conference (where you can actually see the other person drinking coffee!) or even just via a phone call. Use this as your time to laugh together with someone you’d normally laugh with or to catch-up on something that is just easier to hop on the phone about rather than via email.
2. Take A Lunch Break
You take a lunch break in the office, right? Be sure to take one when you are home, too. You still need a break from work even if you are at home. And you need to eat, too!
Close your laptop for a bit, enjoy your lunch, read a book for a little or watch television until you hop back online and are ready to get back to work.
Treat this lunch break as you would in the office, except you can finally eat the food you have at home that you always “forget” to bring to the office with you! If you have a “work wife” or colleague you usually get lunch with, video chat them and have lunch together. Just because you are not working side by side anymore does not mean that your usual way of life needs to completely change.
3. Work With A Friend
Skype or FaceTime with a friend and have that on in the background. You both can be hard at work but will still feel the presence of someone else, which can be comforting.
While we’re all being told to practice social distancing, it may or may not be smart to have others into your space or go into theirs. We should all be limiting our contact with each other for the time being except for absolute essentials.
4. Use Messenger More
Does your company use Slack, Google Chat, Skype, or any sort of messaging service? If so, use this more than you might normally do.
It is an easy way to ping your colleagues and chat casually either about work or just about life. Speak to them like you normally would if you were in the office. Ask about how the other one is feeling and if they have any tips or tricks about working from home.
Yes, you may be typing your conversations now rather than saying them out loud, but you are still communicating with someone you normally communicate with.
5. Be On Your Phone More
At work, it isn’t a good look to be constantly texting on your phone. But, when working remotely, no one can see you. Reach out to your friends more if you are feeling lonely. Of course, make sure you get all of your work done, too. But if you are good at multi-tasking, use this time at home to catch-up with people or to connect with your network.
For instance, if there is a client you have been trying to get in touch with or another young professional who you have been wanting to connect with, this may be a good time to do so.
Working from home might be something that you enjoy or absolutely despise. It presents it’s own challenges and is an environment that some of us thrive in and some of us flounder in. While we are all dealing with this unique situation, remember to be kind to each other and practice a bit of patience and understanding. We’re all in this together.
Have other tips to share? Drop them in the comments!