No need to travel to work everyday; not having to worry about what to wear to the office; no possibility of getting distracted by a talkative colleague. Yep, that’s working from home for ya.
The benefits of working from home are very tempting. ‘Working from home’ is a concept that is quickly becoming more acceptable with employers. More and more multinational companies are giving their employees flexibility by allowing them to work from home. This doesn’t only increases the productivity of the employees, it also boosts their morale. Working in the confines of one’s own personal space with flexibility to dress or undress according to one’s wish and the mood to choose any corner of the personal space as office zone sounds so exciting. Working from home is fun.
Though working from home is a good way of maintaining ‘work-life’ balance, it comes with its own set of drawbacks. A few are mentioned below:
You tend to delay things until you are very near to your deadline. Boredom engulfs many people who do not see colleagues working next to them. This leads to building up unnecessary stress and panic for the last moment which in turn reduces efficiency.
Let’s face it: you are more easily distracted at home. There’s your spouse who wants “just 5 minutes” help and ends up wasting hours of your time. Your kid might want you to play with him/her and won’t understand that daddy/mommy at home does not equal unlimited free time. And then you pause your work so many times that it squeezes out motivation to finish that work. Gradually the work piles up and appears too vast for you to finish.
Breaks become too long:
You plan to take a 30-minute break but boredom grips you and you can easily ‘doze of’. When you come back to your senses and get focused again, two hours have passed. What?
Blurs the difference between personal and professional life:
Since you do not have fixed hours of working and you take multiple breaks in between, you are not able to finish your work on time. So, you stretch your day. So, practically you are there with your laptop always. Also, your colleagues and clients may ask you for some document at any time. You are never out of your office in the real sense.
Though work from home seems fun but without the right amount of motivation, it becomes unproductive. In offices, when we see everyone working, we feel like working. But at home, it appears as a room in isolation and as time passes, we feel disconnected.
‘Working from home’ calls for a certain amount of self-discipline and a flexible approach. With the right approach and a right attitude, one can be super productive when working from home. The following tips may guide you to be super productive when working from home:
1. Fixed working hours
The first thing that separates an office from a home are the working hours. Offices have fixed working hours and every employee makes their schedule within those hours. When working from home you should try to commit to certain hours and finish your work within those hours. If you like working in the early mornings, start early and finish your day earlier. Finish your major tasks in your most productive hours.
2. Dress up formally
Even when working from home, you have to mentally prepare yourself for an office environment. The best way to feel like you were in an office is to dress up formally. Serious focus often comes when you’re wearing your office outfit.. And let’s be honest, you wouldn’t crawl into bed with your suit on, would you?
It makes sense to have a designated corner of your house as office area. Pick an area which is far off from the television room. Place a table and a comfortable chair at a well lighted and adequately ventilated area. Your family members shall know that this is your office area and you operate from there. If possible, choose an area which has a door so that you can close it to avoid disturbances while you are having video conferencing or just a telephonic call with your client.
Every house can be divided into different ‘zones’. Most people respect these zones and their functions, but in everyday life the difference between them can become quite blurry. But that’s ok, if you wouldn’t have an office at your house.
However, when working from home, it’s best to mark a clear space of the house as office area. It doesn’t have to be a room, it can even be just a desk in the hallway (away from the television), that you know is ‘your’ working area. What will happen is that your family members will start to understand that this is your working area and they will respect your time there.
4. Let family and friends know:
4-5 interruptions during the working hours are enough to blow away the productivity of the day. So, try keeping distractions and interruptions at minimum even if that means switching off your mobile phone for several hours. When working at home, you have to keep yourself motivated. Inform your friends and relatives about your working hours and request them not to call you during those hours unless extremely urgent. This will help you in keeping yourself focused.
5. Plan ahead:
While working from home, you have to keep a track of your schedule and of your progress. You can do this by fixing a daily, weekly and monthly goal. Your goals will keep you focused. While you are planning, keep your goals realistic and achievable. Unachievable targets will leave you feeling de-motivated. If you are planning to work 8 hours in a day, make plans only for 6-7 hours. Keep the remaining time as buffer for emergencies. It will be a treat if you finish work within time.
6. Take a break:
Every day while working, schedule a time for break. Breaks are a great way of refreshing one’s mind and soul. Take a long break for lunch and 1-2 short breaks for tea. Look away from the computer screen, close your eyes for a couple of minutes or just stretch your body. You will feel better and relaxed. Ideally every hour you should get up from your chair and walk for 1-2 minutes. It is a great way of distressing your body and mind.
One of the biggest drawbacks of working from home is the feeling of being isolated. People feel that they are cut-off from the day-to-day happenings that people usually enjoy at offices. Communication is the only tool that can bridge this void. Communicate often with your colleagues and bosses and other business associates. Communicate clearly and crisply with your clients so that there is no communication barrier and your message passes correctly to the other party.
8. White board:
Sometimes whiteboards near your workstation helps in departmentalizing different types of tasks. Start the day with a doable ‘to do’ list. During the day, aim to cover maximum things from that list. At the end of the day, note down what is yet to be covered and erase the board. Next day, start with a fresh board. Do not get into the habit of sticking notes as it may lead to clutter over a period of time. As far as possible, keep the work station clean and clutter free. It enhances productivity.
9. Be comfortable:
Be comfortable. Wherever you sit or work, feel comfortable and not tied down. Only when you feel comfortable, you will be productive. Do not get into the mindset ‘I hate to work’. If the couch makes a great seat for you, sit there and work. If music peps you, listen to light music while working. Relax, but work.
10. Develop your network:
You are at a loss when it comes to office networking. You are not able to meet and make new associations. But you can easily overcome this barrier with little effort from your end. Wherever possible, call up people instead of shooting a mail. Once in a while, go out and meet your colleagues who work from office.
11. Value addition:
Keep on adding value to your work profile. Indulge in training programs pertaining to your industry and remain updated. Know your industry in and out.
12. Don’t get self-pity if you have a hard day
And most importantly, there will be tough days when you just do not want to sit in front of a laptop. There will be holidays when you had partied late night and didn’t want to start your day next morning. At such times, do not pity yourself and give yourself a break. This is like a threshold. Once you succumb to pressure, every time you feel like not doing work or extending break to few more minutes. Come what may, start your day on time. Take a shower, have a breakfast, and sit for some work at least. You could then take a nap during the day nut never at the start of your day.
With these tips, make working from home enjoyable and productive.
What tips do you have to share on working from home? Feel free to let me know in the comments.
by Miguel Lesy