Millions of Americans have begun working from home (WFH) and are adjusting to their lives as remote employees. Those of us who are new to telecommuting may be facing some challenges in the initial period of adjustment between office life and home-office life, so this week we’ve put together a few tips to ease the transition and help you find some balance in your work from home life. It’s possible to stay motivated, focused and productive, even when surrounded by all the comforts (and distractions) of home.
You know that this is a workday and not a lazy weekend morning but your loungewear may be telling your subconscious differently so get out of those jammies and dress for the job that you have! Though many consider earning your paycheck in your sleepwear to be the dream, studies have shown that the clothes you wear “systematically impact” your psychological processes. The evidence says that if you prepare yourself for a day at the office, including grooming and getting into appropriate attire, you’ll more easily make the transition from chill to work mode and increase your motivation and productivity. Dressing for work has also been found to boost confidence and mood. That’s not to say that you’re going to need those heels or wingtips to rock that important video conference, but at least put on some pants!
Create Your Workspace
The cushy couch, big TV and sleepy purring cat in your lap all make your home the coziest place for you to be, however, all of that comfort quickly turns to distraction when tasked with trying to get some work done. The best advice is to designate a space for your work hours. It doesn’t have to be a fancy home office with all the latest tech and a mini-fridge/snack arsenal within arm’s reach. Finding a place to work in your house might mean you’ll finally get around to cleaning out that spare bedroom upstairs, or maybe even just decluttering the dining room table. Wherever you find your space, just remember that priority one is to remove yourself from all the distractions you’re surrounded with. You’re not worried about throwing in a load of laundry or banging out the sink full of dishes when you’re at the office so don’t submit to those domestic temptations while you’re in your home office. Here are a few tips on how to craft your perfect home workspace, even if you’ve got some challenges to overcome.
We’ve also created a helpful Work at Home Kit that will help you and your team stay organized in your new workspace.
Create Expectations at Home
You’re sitting at the table, your laptop open, hammering through emails and expense reports, 100% in the zone. You are the picture of productivity. You are a locked-in, laser-focused, one-person-army-of-getting-the-job-done. A tap at your shoulder brings you back to earth, followed by the sweet voice of a loved one asking if you’ve had the chance to schedule the oil change that your car is long overdue for. At first, this new normal of working from home can be tough for your family or roommates to get used to as well. You’re there, so why couldn’t you just answer a few quick questions? Maybe find that lost remote control? We all know that there are plenty of distractions and “side-quests” during your normal workday when you’re back at the office, so what’s the difference? Working from home is all about setting boundaries so that you don’t feel the pressure to juggle home life and work-life simultaneously. It’s impossible to focus your attention in two directions at once, both areas will suffer for it if you try. The best approach is to have a conversation with your cohabiters as soon as possible and help them to understand that during your set work hours, you’re home but you’re not home. Hang out with them on lunch and breaks, answer the questions, find that remote, put out the fires then. Oh, and don’t forget about that oil change. It’s important.
Help your team bridge the gap between the office and the home office and boost their productivity with this Telecommute Kit!
Don’t Skip Your Breaks
It can be tempting to skip a break or take a shorter lunch when you’re in the middle to of a productive day but don’t do that. Get up, move around and look away from the laptop when you’re scheduled to. I’ve caught myself sitting down, half-eaten sandwich in hand, and mindlessly opening Outlook to check what I may have missed in the three minutes I’ve been away. It’s not a healthy way to go about your day and there is a myriad of problems that skipping your time away can cause. Carve the time out to simply walk away. Eat something, maybe go for a walk if you can or use the hour to handle some of the chores you want to get a jump start on, but resist the urge to “just finish up this one thing” when you’re on your own time. We all want to stay productive and do a good job but we all also need time away to recharge our batteries. Use the time that you have built into your home workday to do just that.
Overcoming the initial obstacles of change can be a challenge in and of itself, but telecommuting can be a great fit once you settle in. Claim your territory, set your boundaries and be good to yourself and you’ll find your groove and get back to peak productivity in no time. Plus, you’ll find that the rush hour commute is much less stressful.