I’ve often been asked to share what has worked for me when it comes to working from home and balancing all that goes with that. So here we go!
Many folks now have decided they prefer to work from home. Then there are those doing so for the first time — or thinking about what it would be like. They’ve never done it, aren’t set up for it but want to make sure it is a productive experience.
What if you’ve never worked from home before, or not on a full-time basis? It can be an unsettling and frustrating experience to start. But, the good news is that all it takes is the right mindset and some organization to keep you on track and your workflow producing.
My Work at Home Journey
What is happening today, in my view, may be something that permanently changes how we all do business moving forward. And I’m surprised it took a virus to make it happen. So let me share with you why I believe this to be the case.
I have worked out of my home office for almost two decades now. However, I had my own office outside not in my home for several years in the beginning. This was primarily because the Internet and Web were so new that meeting with me in person and having a physical location helped instill trust.
Here’s how it went…
Going Virtual Makes Sense
Virtual work environments will become more commonplace and therefore accepted. As a result, businesses will discover they are more cost-effective as well (with the right employees). Being that type of employee will enhance your career opportunities.
Employees will discover the added benefit of a better quality of life (no commute time, traffic, expensive wardrobes) and seek out virtual opportunities. Win-win.
When you work at home, you will lose those social connections you enjoy when “going to work.” So think about how important those interactions are to you. Whether it be the folks you know at the coffee shop on the way to work or your coworkers. Schedule a couple of slots a week to reconnect with those you miss either in person for lunch, by phone, or by video (Apple’s Facetime, Zoom, Skype).
Working from Home = Discipline & Mindset
Your ability to succeed at working remotely will be proportionate to your level of discipline. It will also reflect on you as an employee (or contractor), your work ethic, and that you can be trusted to get the job done.
Most incorrectly surmise that working from home means you can stay in your PJs, get up in the morning when you feel like it, watch TV, and more or less work less. While some can make that approach work, most successful people do not.
It is true that working at home is certainly a more flexible environment, but you will still have work that needs to get done and responsibilities to meet. So yes, I may take a break, run an errand or walk my pup. But all in all, I put in a solid workday—plan on doing the same.
If you want to succeed at working from home, creating and sticking to a daily schedule can make your virtual work arrangement one that benefits you (and your employer).
Have a daily work-at-home schedule.
This is what has worked for me.
Take a break if you need one. Walk around the yard, go outside, sit on your porch or patio for 15 minutes, and just take in your surroundings. Breaks allow you to refresh and clear your head.
I love what I do, and I work at it all day. Being raised with a solid work ethic made working from home something that came easy for me. This is where your discipline will make or break your work-at-home experience.
Working at Home for Newbies
For those new to working at home, go into it assuming you will put in a full 8-hour day. You will want to create a regular schedule that works for you as I have. And then stick to it.
Your employer most likely will have guidelines and requirements, including check-ins and productivity goals that they’ll advise you of. Then, do not hesitate to ask for the tools, software, or resources you discover you need to meet those goals.
Similarly, your employer may be new at this virtual thing, too, and your constructive input will be critical to making this transition work for everyone. Both sides must be flexible until processes and procedures solidify as the dust settles.
Know that your employer will expect that you will be accomplishing just as much, if not more, than when you went into the office. Working from home does not mean less work.
Managing Business Work Email at Home
Usually, your work email is on your work PC you leave the office, and you won’t check it until you are back in the office again. Now that you are working from home, you’ll want to set up your work account to use it from your home device.
Have a discussion with others at home and set some guidelines about your workspace and interruptions. Of course, there will be frustrating moments while you work out the kinks — that’s to be expected. But, be flexible and patient until you figure out a system that works for everyone.
Increased Email Volume
You may likely be emailing more than you ever have before. If for no other reason than you are not in person with those, you usually would communicate within the office.
This means your email communication skills are really going to be even more critical to clarity in your communications. Including avoiding any unnecessary misunderstandings. Here are the basics to start.
Consider acquiring a copy of my Business Email and Technology Etiquette eBook. Become the epitome of professional business communications at a time when it will be essential to your job performance.
If you do not have a designated home office, create a little corner in your home that you dedicate just to spending your work time. Sitting on the couch with your laptop and TV on is not conducive to efficiency and productivity.
Consequently, you will want to eliminate any distractions that can lead to you not paying attention or making errors. This means letting those who may also be at home know that you are working and appreciate not being disturbed while in that space.
By keeping a schedule, setting goals, and designating your “space,” you set yourself up for success. Then be flexible as you determine what will work best for you and your employer.
Being you do not have to commute or have in-office distractions, you will probably discover that you are more productive than ever.
At your service,