Working from home isn’t a new idea, but Covid 19 obviously switched many people from in-person offices to working from home. Work will likely move partially back toward office space as in-person work becomes a possibility — but research points to a hybrid model, with the majority of time spent remotely, as the most promising direction of the future.
Research shows that the most popular reasons people prefer to work remotely are better work-life balance (91%), increased productivity and better focus (79%), less stress (78%), and avoiding a commute (78%).
However, some of the “pros” of working remotely can also be seen as “cons” with regard to other aspects of work and life. For instance, the pro of avoiding a commute may be negated by the con of establishing a healthy separation between home and work. And our work relationships can suffer when we lack face-to-face contact —there are benefits derived from being around other people. The isolation of remote work can also lead to less knowledge-sharing and decreased team cohesion.
So how might you get the benefits of working from home while avoiding some of the negative consequences? Here are a few ideas:
Create and keep a schedule
For many beginning remote workers, the first thing to go out the window is a work routine. Don’t let that happen to you! A work routine helps you set boundaries, not only with your coworkers, boss, and clients — but with yourself. Establish set working hours that align with job expectations, such as 40 hours, Monday through Friday. Stick to the schedule and don’t engage in personal tasks or nonwork activities during your workday.
Create a manageable to-do list
At the end of each day, compose a to-do-list for the next day. This will set the tone for a great morning that will follow you throughout your day. List everything from big projects – broken down into manageable smaller tasks – to little things like creating a Zoom webinar invitation list. Include how long you think each task will realistically take. It may sound cliché, but check the items off when you’re finished for a greater sense of accomplishment.
Create a true work space in your home
Working from home doesn’t take an expansive desk or even a dedicated office — just a customized space that fits your needs and is intended exclusively for work. A work-only space helps maintain your work-life and home-life boundaries.
Take REAL breaks
Set an alarm for routine breaks throughout the day. Get up, stretch … perhaps get some fresh air. Walking away from your work has been shown to increase productivity — as long as you don’t go overboard. Take a true lunch break. It may seem to save time eating at your desk when you are busy, but actually closing your computer and avoiding electronics for a while can bring a much-needed midday refresher that leaves you more productive throughout the rest of your day.
Act as if you’re going to the office
Yes, you can get away with wearing your PJs all day … but how professional do you feel? Waking up and setting about your routine as if you are going into the office can positively impact your productivity. Setting an alarm, making that cup of coffee … putting on presentable clothes you — all tell your brain it’s time to work and be successful.
Take a break with a coworker (virtually!)
While working from home, we miss some of our coworkers — their funny stories and personalities. Take time each week to check in and connect with a coworker and catch up via a virtual lunch break or post-work Zoom beverage.
Your greatest asset is your perspective — it can make or break any situation. Sometimes just commiserating with someone who is experiencing exactly the same thing in real time can help you laugh away the tension and empower you for the rest of your week.
The beauty of working from home rather than in an office is that, to a greater degree, your time is yours. You decide how best to spend it to build your brand, enhance your career. You choose what to focus on in order to grow and prosper. By successfully meeting the challenges of working from home head on, it can be easier to focus on what you actually can control, and better manage the uncontrollable aspects of life.