Over the past decade, technological advances have shattered the ball and chain restricting where and how we work. The traditional workstation that included a computer, monitor, plug in mouse, and filing cabinets is close to extinction. Laptops are extremely common if not the only way people work and the majority of our information is stored in the cloud making paper records obsolete. We now have the ability to work from home, on vacation, or at the beach if you can maneuver your screen against the sun’s glare. Social tools keep us connected to our teams and working outside the office is the new perk many companies jump to provide employees.
Working remotely has it perks including skipping the dreadful commute, home cooked meals, and decreased distractions from coworkers. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Waking up without anyone to physically report to can lead to four or five snoozes - sometimes more than our body needs. When you finally pull yourself out of bed, guilt envelops you. To placate, you flip open your computer to get started only to find the rush of morning emails has overtaken your inbox. Before you know it, the clock reads 11:30 am and you’re still in your pj’s, haven’t eaten breakfast or even brushed your teeth for the day.
Of course, a day here and there that starts like this isn’t necessarily a problem. However, to be successful working from home, whether it’s every day or once a week, there are certainly best practices that make it easier. Check out these four quick tips to thrive while working from home.
1. Get ready for the day even if it’s just for your dog.
Pajamas are great! However, if you find yourself in your pajamas still at 3:00 pm there’s often disappointment looming about your day. Take the time to shower, have breakfast, brush your teeth and get dress for the day. Doing so can make you feel more confident... Plus, if a friend texts you to grab lunch, you’ll be ready to go!
2. Sit down to plan out your day.
Pick a start and a definitive end time each day. One of the great things about working from home is the flexibility in your schedule. If you are morning person, start your day early. If you are more of a night owl, don’t set an alarm and plan to work late into the evening. Once you set a schedule, stick with it.
Make a list of your most important tasks before you complete less urgent business to structure your working hours for maximum efficiency. If you’re most focused in the morning, plan to check off your more demanding tasks first thing and resist the urge to check your email.
3. Take breaks and get away from your workstation for lunch.
Pay attention to the signals your body gives you. When your focus starts to wane or your back aches, it’s a great time to get up, stretch, unload the dishwasher or start your laundry. Schedule time for lunch. If fitness is important to you, a midday workout could be just the thing you need to reinvigorate you for a productive afternoon.
4. Find the right work setting and stay connected.
Some days working from bed (not recommended for your back) sounds just right. Other days coffee shops and libraries simulate the energy of an office to help you stay productive. Find a few places in and outside of your home that you enjoy working from and determine what tasks are best done in each of those spots.
Plug into social channels like Slack to keep conversations with coworkers going while you are not physically at the office. If you are working on intellectually intensive work, communicate to your team that you will not be responding to emails to dial into the task at hand.
Studies have shown employees are often more productive when working from home. With this research and our advanced technology it looks like working from home is here to stay. Take advantage of the perk and set yourself up for success. Stay connected, enjoy the flexibility and schedule the breaks you need to succeed while working out of the office. Remember, learning to power up and shutdown on time enforces your work/life boundaries and most importantly don’t forget to dress for the day!