We all work from home for different reasons. Some of us do it because we have families we need to take care of, or significant others we can’t stand to be apart from for months at a time. Others are simply on the move too much to effectively work in an office. If you are like me, you find yourself more distracted in an office environment than you do anywhere else; sometimes to the point that you hardly get any work done. You have to be careful though, because working from home isn’t always a cakewalk. There are mistakes to be made, some inevitable, but hopefully we can give you some tips to help you avoid some of the common problems you will run into.
• Don’t cram yourself in a corner. You need space to work and breath.
• Don’t treat it like a vacation. If you get lax and behind it will become constant game of catch up. Not to mention you might lose your rights to work remotely.
• Don’t sleep in. As tempting as it may be to stay up till 1 am watching 30 Rock on Netflix, you should still operate at your company’s normal business hours even when home.
• Don’t sit in your pajamas all day. Yes I know they can’t see them. Yes I know you can angle the webcam so they can only see your face. It is just not professional. If you dress like you are going to work, you will be more motivated to work. Sitting in pajamas will make you more inclined to lie on the couch and veg all day.
• Don’t be late on you assignments. Ever. The first thing people will jump to is that since you are working remotely that you can’t do your job properly. This may have nothing to do with why it is late, but it will be the first thing brought up when you turn in an assignment late, and your ability to work effectively from home will be questioned. If you think an assignment might be a little late, email your superior beforehand and ask for some extra time to perfect it for them.
• Don’t have the TV on while you work. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t watching it. Just have voices in the background can dramatically reduce your productivity and can even impact your stress levels and short/long term memory. This isn’t true for music however, as long as it is music you are choosing to listen to. Options like Jazz or Classical without words are always a good choice.
• Do have a separate office space. This will give you more freedom and lower your stress when working. It will allow you to eliminate distractions and focus on your work.
• Do personalize your office space. This will make you more relaxed and make you feel less tense about your work.
• Do get a large workstation or desk. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a million times more. You need space! Clutter cause immediate rises in stress, not to mention the inability to find anything. Small work areas lead to disorganization. A TV tray from the 70’s is not an acceptable home office setup.
• Do buy a nice chair. If you are planning to sit a lot, get a good chair that is healthy for your back. Comfort will show in your attitude, and a good attitude leads to good work. As an alternative you could buy a standing desk, but in that case, get some good shoes.
• Do exercise. Go for a walk, do some yoga, or just stretch a little. All of these are healthy options that will keep you happy and in a good mood. Exercise is a number one way to get rid of pent up stress and anxiety.
• Do take breaks. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to take your breaks. Stopping to grab a cup of coffee or tea is completely acceptable, and it is good to get away from the computer from time to time.
• Do get a big monitor. If you can requisition one from your company or shell out for it yourself, having a large screen will be worth it if you are working at home 24/7. Stress on your eyes can cause headaches, migraines, and vision problems later in life.
• Do stay connected. Have your phone on, email up, instant chat running, tablet charged, and have Skype signed in. Working from home scares managers because it makes you seem unavailable. Prove you are you always just a click, text, message, or call away. This will make you seem more reliable and trustworthy.
• Do have weekly or monthly sync ups with your coworkers to make sure you are all working on the same page. This helps keep you connected and feel like part of the team.
• Do set goals. Have things you want to finish before lunch, by the end of the day, the week, and the month. This will help you grow as an employee and as a person.
• Do have a routine. Routines help keep you on task and in charge of your day. Slipping out of routine leads to sleeping in till noon and eating ice cream in your Thundercats pajamas while watching MacGyver reruns.