Working From Home: 5 Tips from Experienced Telecommuting Veterans to Help You Make the Transition
So, now you suddenly find yourself working from home. This can be a good experience, but it can also be a bit stressful if you’ve never done it before. I have been working from home for about 7 years, and my company, ArcherPoint, has been virtual since its inception, so I thought this might be a good time to poll my colleagues and identify tips for working from home.
The survey of was straightforward: “What advice would you give to someone just starting to work from home?”
This survey is by no means scientific, but it shares experience and knowledge of more than 150 combined years of telecommuting. Hopefully, these 5 tips will provide you with information that can help ease the transition to working from home:
Tip #1: Have a Dedicated Office Space
Having an office space (whether it’s your bedroom, basement, office, or other) that can be left set up after the work day is done is important. You will need to be able to separate your work life from your personal life, and a designated office space will help. This space should be free of distractions to allow you to concentrate on working. An additional recommendation is to find a space that will fit an office chair. One of my colleagues said it best: “When I am in the space, I am at work; when I walk out, I am at ‘home’.”
Tip #2: Make Time to Socialize
One of the things I first missed when I started working from home was chatting with people by the coffee pot in the breakroom. When you’re working from home, you lose that ability, and you risk feeling lonely or isolated. So, make the time—within reason—to reach out to a fellow co-worker to maintain a connection.” One colleague suggested making time for one non-work-related call per day, while another suggested reaching out to a client to check in.
Tip #3: Disconnect...Walk Away...Clear Your Head
We all have had those days where work can become overwhelming. I have found that, by walking away for a bit (or taking an actual 15-20 minute walk, as one colleague suggested), you can clear your thoughts, get some fresh air (if you take a walk), and get back onto the tasks that you need to accomplish. Another benefit pointed out is that it helps you keep a work-life balance: “…it is too easy to work all of the time because you are at home.”
Tip #4: Maintain a Regular Schedule
I have found that when I know when I will be at work and when I will not helps everyone. My coworkers know what they can expect. My clients know when I should be available. My family knows when I can help them out as well. I shower every day, eat breakfast, and then “go” to work. Set a start and end time. Take a lunch break. Have a plan for the day and put tasks on your calendar—just like you would do if you went into the office. This routine keeps you sane and prevents you from feeling out of control.
Tip #5: Be Prepared for Distractions
No matter how hard you try, you will have distractions from yourself and from your family. Try to manage them to the best of your ability. Let those in your household know when you are working so you can limit distractions (consider coming up with a signal or sign to indicate you are on a call or tied up, and close your office door if you have one), but also work to ensure you have the discipline to reduce your self-distractions as well. As one colleague said, “For those new to working from home that also have others in their home environment, they will need to establish work boundaries and stick to them. Their work hours are their work hours, and just because they are working from home doesn’t mean its vacation time. Not only do the workers need to adjust to the new work environment; so do others in the household.” Another helpful hint: Use music or white noise or headphones.
A Few Additional Bits of Advice
Apart from the 5 main tips, here are some additional bits of advice that are worth mentioning:
“If it helps you to be more productive, get dressed. For me, pajamas don’t lend themselves to a productive mindset. But do what works for you.”
“Don’t try to do too many household chores during work time. Throw in some laundry, throw some dishes in the dishwasher, but don’t feel obligated to do more than that just because you are home.”
“Get a good headset for phone calls.” … “Make sure you have a solid internet provider, a healthy modem, and great Bluetooth mic/speaker for calls.”
“LOTS OF LIGHT. I moved my desk to face the window and added a lamp to my desk. Also makes a difference in mood.”
“Above all, keep your sense of humor…stuff happens! Be OK with working from home. In this day and age, it is very common, so be up front with people you are working with, especially if there is an obvious reason to, like the door bell, a pet, child, spouse (or all at once) that all the sudden “joins” the conference call. It happens. Life happens…”
“Relax. This too shall pass.”
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I would like to thank my colleagues at ArcherPoint for the excellent advice. Soon, you too will be saying something like, “Working for home is great. Take advantage of it. Make yourself a pot of coffee. Pet your dog. Go walk outside for a few minutes to clear your head.”
If your company has just made the decision to include a remote workforce, we can help. Check out what we’ve learned in our webinar, How to Successfully Deploy a Remote Workforce.