The ability to work from home is becoming more and more common in the corporate world. It allows working professionals with the flexibility needed to balance both work and personal life. While working from home has many perks, it is also easier said than done. A home based work environment can leave one feeling out of touch and is often filled with distractions and temptations, which collectively have the ability to take you away from the task at hand.
Within the last year, I have discovered and implemented several tricks geared towards enhancing my productivity while at home. Here are 10 Steps that have contributed to my success that you can implement in your life as well.
1. Designate a Work Space: Determine a set “”office”” location within your home. Whether it be a formal office or a small desk space within another room, a dedicated working area will provide you with the feeling of being at work and will translate to a higher degree of productivity.
2. Outfit your Work Space: If you are going to successfully manage your work remotely, you will need to have all of the essentials that you would find in a true, on-site, office based environment. Get yourself a printer (ideally one with a scanner), a docking station (if you work off of a laptop), an extra monitor and a keyboard with mouse. Another crucial aspect of the home based office is comfortable chair. If you are going to be spending hours on end in one location – it best be enjoyable! Depending on the company that you work for, these office items may qualify for reimbursement, so be sure to consult your corporate policies. If you work for yourself, you may be able to claim these items on your income tax filing.
3. Set Office Hours: Dedicated office hours will not only hold you accountable and provide a convenient time for co-workers and customers to reach you, but it will also provide an approximate start and end to your work day; similar to what you would experience when going to the office. Without setting a work time, those who work from home might find themselves working a little bit, all of the time (including early mornings, nights and weekends), which will take away from your personal life. Of course with anything, there may be certain circumstances when additional hours are required, but mentally designating hours for a typical work week, is important.
4. Get Dressed: Now this one may sound unnecessary, especially since the general public considers all day pajama days as one of the biggest perks to working from home, BUT getting dressed prior to starting your work day, is key to enhancing productivity. By default you will feel more awake and ready to tackle the day simply by taking a taking a morning shower and by putting on fresh clothes. Not to mention, Skype meetings and online conference calls have put a big damper on the pajama thing!
5. Stay in Touch: In many cases, working from home can leave you feeling out of contact with co-workers, managers and even customers. Since you are not seeing these individuals face to face on a daily, or weekly basis, it becomes increasingly important to stay in touch by phone, email and Skype and to even schedule face to face time routinely. Staying in touch will not only make you feel more connected to your network of colleagues and your role itself, but it will also instill a higher degree of confidence in others, regarding your dedication to your work.
6. Realize that Email is NOT Enough: In the electronic age it is all to easy to hide behind email as the preferred method of contact. However, email should not replace other forms of contact, especially for those working from home. Unlike face to face time or even phone conversations, email is distant. and can lead to frequent miscommunication.
7. Take a Lunch Break: Taking a break, especially in the middle of the day, is incredibly necessary to unwind and then recharge. Just as you would take a lunch break while at a traditional office, take a break at home too. You will find you get far more done this way.
8. Downplay Temptation: While at home. you may be tempted to indulge in a daily dose of “The Price is Right” or to tackle the growing piles of laundry that continue to haunt you. BUT it is important for the sake of productivity to downplay these distractions during your designated office hours. Don’t get me wrong a little “me” time is necessary, as is time to get the house work done, but try to use your breaks for those things!
9. Be Accountable: While the ability to meet deadlines is an important characteristic of any worker, doing what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it, is even more important for those who work from home. Accountability will not only improve the quality of your work (by instilling a sense of pressure to perform), but will also enhance the relationships that you have with your colleagues, who will feel as though they can count of you, even from a remote location.
10. Be Consistent: Ever hear the saying “‘consistency is key”‘? Well this rings true in many ways when establishing a productive strategy for working from home. Be consistent in your work routine. Be consistent with the quality of your work. Be consistent with your frequency of contact, when it comes to co-workers, managers and customers. Doing so will make a world of difference!
Thank you for reading and as always, feel free to comment below with any questions or feedback or to contact me directly!