When you hear the phrase ‘working from home’, what comes to your mind at first? Don’t you start imagining someone lying on a couch in their pajamas, scrolling through their laptop while binging upon some snacks and drinks? But that’s not the reality. There’s no denying the fact that working from home gives more flexibility but to pull it off successfully, you need to be equally dedicated as you would have if it was a real office.
|“The option to work from home when needed, or to try a different lifestyle without having to change jobs, is a win for everyone”.As quoted byScott Berkun, (former remote team leader at WordPress, author of the “The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work” book)|
Lately, the outbreak of Coronavirus forced everyone to work from their homes as that seemed the only feasible option. For those who are beginners or if it’s their first time, working from home can be challenging and tricky. However, more and more people and businesses are inclining towards the trend of working remotely, seeing the current situation we are in.
FYI, in 2020, before Coronavirus made an entry, 7 million people were already working remotely in the U.S. (3.4 percent of the population).
|Quick Facts-82% of those working from home reported lower stress levels as they don’t have to often communicate with their co-workers.Reportedly, the top reason for preferring work from home is to avoid commuting and save money.Working remotely is eco-friendly as there will be fewer commuters on the road.25% of people were fine with a reduction in salary if they were allowed to work from home.|
“Is Working from Home the Future of Work?”
I have been working remotely for more than three years now and it has been a roller-coaster ride till now but the experience has helped me in my growth, in an altogether different way. While working from home, I and my colleagues all have faced different challenges owing to our different lifestyles and job responsibilities. Nevertheless, if you are working from home or are about to start your journey, I have shared a good number of tips for working remotely and how you can make it more productive.
Tips for Working Remotely For Better Efficiency and Morale
I have compiled all the tips from my personal experience as well as what the experts have to say, here you go:
- Stay Organized and Determined
Staying organized is the best way to get maximum work done within the working hours. You need to maintain a balance between your work life and personal life; working too much or too little will not work. Setting a schedule and most importantly sticking to it is the key. Knowing when to start working and when to call it a day is most important.
Create to-do lists for the day and for the week and keep checking upon it. Make sure to get the things done in the stipulated time and not go overboard with anything. Never mix anything professional, with your personal life, working from home doesn’t mean you are available all the time.
- Set Up a Realistic Routine
A routine may vary from person to person; you just need to know what will go best for you. I know you have already decided what your office hours are going to be but that’s not just it. Setting up a morning routine is a must to kick start your day and make the most out of it. If you can stick to your morning routine, half of the battle is won.
Make sure you set some realistic goals that are achievable or set them low in the beginning. Simply, going for a walk, sipping coffee, having breakfast, and getting ready for the day can surely make working from home better.
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- Create a Dedicated Work Space
This is one of the most important “working from home” tips; you need to have a specific place designated for your office work. Now, you may not have a separate room left in your home that you can call your workspace. Find yourself a corner in your room where you can set your desk with a computer/ laptop along with other essentials.
Make sure to keep the supplies or files that you often use within your reach so that you don’t end up searching them every other minute. Try not to create your workstation near your bed or TV to get easily distracted. Sitting at the same place every day will give you a true work environment.
- Plan for the Day
Setting up a routine and planning for the day are altogether different things. Every day is different in its way and you need to plan it accordingly. For instance, some days you may not work as scheduled and have other things to complete, or you have to wind up your work early to go for a party.
All such things need to be decided beforehand so that you don’t miss anything important. This way working from home can ensure maximum productivity as you can focus on the important things and get leisure time as well. If you have conference calls or an online meeting to attend, planning for it in advance will not get you stressed.
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- Take a Break
If you work for a company, know their break times, and take them. Even if you work on your own, know when you are going to take breaks in between and for how long. Also, ensure that if you have set 40 minutes for a break, you don’t end up taking 50 or 30.
One hour for lunch and two 15 minutes breaks must be enough to give you time away from the computer and phone screen. Don’t either reduce your break time or extend them unless there is urgency. Make sure to return to your desk after the stipulated break time and continue from where you left. Breaks lower down the stress levels and make you ready to work properly for the remaining hours.
- Set Ground Rules with People Around
You live in a home with your family and it may be easy for you to get distracted. If you want to succeed at working from home, setting ground rules is important. Tell your family about your working hours and if you have kids they must be clear about the rules i.e. what they can and cannot do while you are working.
Just because you are home doesn’t mean your work is less important or your family can intervene whenever they want. Working at home can make others take advantage of you, and this leads to a complete distraction from your work. Don’t let this happen to you and tell them you are not available during certain hours.
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- Get Out of the Home
Be sure to spend some time outdoors even if it is for just 5 minutes every day. Your body needs fresh air and as you are working from home, you may not get many reasons to go out, but make sure you have one. Take a walk, buy some groceries or if you have an important phone call, you can attend it while walking in the garden.
Getting out of closed doors at least once a day is important for better mental health as well as to keep your body moving. Apart from this, you can go outside for dinner once in a while to enjoy family time and get fresh air alongside.
- Be Social
When you work in a company, you meet a lot of people on your way to the office and while coming back. You even get to talk to your colleagues regularly but working from home doesn’t offer such opportunities. You only get to talk to your family members or seldom to your colleagues when you have something to discuss.
Don’t end your social life just because you work remotely. Make sure you get time for your friends, go on outings, meet them once a week or go shopping with them. Working from home doesn’t give you many occasions to interact with people but you need to find them on your own.
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- A Work Phone Number
Keeping a separate work phone number is something that will add to your professionalism. You can set up a phone number that you will only use for your work-related matters such as to talk to clients, colleagues, seniors, etc. This will also help in maintaining a balance in your personal and work life.
You can even keep your personal mobile switched off or on silent when you are working to stay away from distractions. You can even use a free VoIP service for this purpose such as Google Voice, Skype, etc. This way you can ensure no personal calls will distract you in the middle of an official conversation.
- Communication is the Key
Those who work from their homes mostly complain about a lack of communication. You need to make sure that you are always available to communicate for your colleagues, managers, and seniors during the working hours. Keep a constant check on emails, messages, Skype calls that you receive from your company.
When you work alone in your house, communication takes the back seat but that should not happen if you want to shine in the eyes of your boss. You need to be quick enough to respond to your office staff and be vocal about your activities and achievements while working remotely. If you are a team leader, make sure to keep a constant check on your team and help them overcome the challenges. Even if you don’t work for a company, keep in touch with other remote team members.
These were my work from home tips and best practices that you can apply; no matter if you are an employee or manager, they are going to help you.