Whether due to minor and temporary inconveniences or larger scale shutdowns, many people are finding themselves needing to work from home either for the first time or for extended periods of time. This adjustment can be difficult for some as they try to adapt to this new working environment. I consider myself a bit of an expert at working from home. If you find yourself asking “How do I work from home?” and needing Tips for Working From Home, keep reading!
There are many studies that show working from home actually results in greater productivity, which I completely agree with! Whenever I am at a corporate office, I wonder how anyone ever gets anything done, because it feels like everyone is always walking around or talking or losing time. So if productivity is a concern for you, don’t worry! You will likely get more done than you ever did in the office (as long as you are not ignoring work altogether).
I have been primarily working from home for over six years. Before that, I was in an office setting. I personally LOVE working from home and could never imagine not being able to do so ever again. I also am in a position where I work with a lot of new hires and coach them, including things like adjusting to working from home. So I consider myself somewhat of an expert in this! Some love it, and some find it difficult. But it does take an adjustment regardless of how long you are working from home. Read though my tips for what has made the biggest impact for me (and my co-workers) in adjusting to working from home.
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Consider How You Work Best
This is probably one of the most important things you can do when working from home. Everyone works differently and not everything is going to work for every person. Think about what you need to be productive and focused. For example, I need light and noise. Without light and noise, I get very tired and lose my ability to focus and be productive. So I always work in areas that have lots of windows and lamp options, and I like to work near a TV. I put on a show that interests me enough that I do not get annoyed by it, but something I know well enough that it will not suck me in. Then I let it run and run.
Find A Space To Set Up (That Works For YOU)
This is also something I learned that makes a big difference. If you are not working from home often, or if it is a short term deal, it might not have a big impact on you. But if you work from home frequently or for a long period of time, this is incredibly important.
The area that you work in will become associated in your mind with WORK and not home. Not comfort. Not family. And that space will start to feel like work and not an area to disconnect. If you are in that area, you will automatically start thinking about those emails flooding in, or a task you forgot to complete. And then by the time you reach this point, and realize that this association has settled into the space, it will take a while to undo it. So make sure that before you really get going with working from home, you find yourself a space that works well for how you work (above) but also is in an area that you can walk away from at the end of the day to disconnect and relax. And find ways to decorate your desk space. I cannot say enough how important this is!
Do you have an extra office space or bedroom to set up in? A corner of the basement? Or even the kitchen table? Somewhere that is not in the direct same space as where you relax and decompress. Short on space? Consider making physical barriers like hanging a sheet or curtain from the ceiling between your desk and bed, or facing a wall so you are not looking at the “relaxing” space. And then hide the work space when you are not working so you do not have the visual reminders.
Capitalize on Ability to Multi-Task
One of the things I love the most about working from home is the flexibility to get other things done while you are working. If I have a teleconference where I do not need to be looking at my screen, and I am not doing most of the talking, I find ways to get other tasks around the house done. I will do a load of dishes or laundry, I will clean something, I even re-stained my wood banisters at one point in time! Take some tasks that don’t require too much thought (so you can still focus on the call!) and get some things around the house done while you are working. Like getting dinner started early with one of our popular recipes! You will feel so productive! This is one of my personal favorite Tips for Working From Home.
Dedicate Time to Step Away – And Get Creative
It is very easy to get sucked into working for a long period of time when working from home. I don’t know how many times me and my coworkers would realize it was 2:00 in the afternoon and we had not eaten yet. Make it a point to do something that reminds yourself to step away from your work space! Set up a phone alarm, or a calendar block. Even if it is just a few minutes taken to do something in your house, or to get out of your house, it will make a big difference to your mental capacity to focus and not feeling burnt out.
Feel like you can’t step away? I know full well what it is like to have a calendar that is completely packed and so much to do that you will never get it done. Sure, you could argue making time for it, but there are also other ways around it that will not make you feel guilty or spike your anxiety for not working. One of my favorite tricks is to take your phone with you and get outside. I go on walks in the neighborhood, and have open space behind my house that I like to walk through. I take a call with me so I am still accomplishing something I need to get done, but have the ability to get some fresh air, step away, and get a little exercise! All of this re-energizes me and gets my blood pumping, giving me more energy and the ability to focus more when I am back.
If You Value Socialization – Find New Outlets
If you are an introvert (like me), working from home is not difficult from a social perspective. But for those that thrive on social interaction, or those that are simply used to it, it can be very difficult to adapt. I hear this a lot from people that make the transition from an office to working from home. Even if you have a lot of teleconferences and are technically talking a good part of the day, you still do not have the social interactions taking place around you. Some people really struggle with this! Just the other day, a very extroverted person at my company asks me how I deal with working from home all the time because she missed being around everyone. While you can’t replace physically having people there all of the time, there are some ways to somewhat trick yourself.
Find some ways to still “get your fix” like using video for your calls (whether group calls or one on one), or pull up some podcasts or online videos where people are talking about non-work related topics. Things that would fit in your space of socialization. The exposure to the conversation, even if you are working, will feel more like the social environment that you are missing. Or if you are in a situation where you are not on a lockdown and required to stay home, get out and go sit somewhere different in a social environment. Go to a coffee shop, a park, or somewhere that people gather in a casual setting.
Regardless of how long you are working from home, try out these tips to better adjust. It may need some trial and error to find exactly what works for you, but these are the pillars that I always teach new hires for working from home that have worked for their own piece of mind and productivity.
Is there anything you think I missed? Do you have a trick to what works best for you when working from home? Share your Tips for Working From Home in the comments to help others!