Working from home is becoming more and more common. According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics and Robert Half International, 52% of full-time employees work remotely at least some of the time. Unfortunately, this trend has led to many misconceptions about working from home — namely, that it’s less effective than working in an office; or that it requires nothing but completing your normal job tasks on your laptop while lying around in your pajamas. These myths can make it problematic for people who want to work from home; or managers who want their employees to work as effectively from home as possible. However, here are ten tips that will help you not only succeed at working from home but also thrive:
Find a Designated Workspace and Stay Organized
A designated workspace is vital to your home-based business. Your workspace should be a place where you can focus and work without distraction. It should be clean, organized, and preferably quiet, so you’re not distracted by the sounds of household chaos.
Designating a whole room for your office is ideal. This allows for total concentration on tasks without being bothered by family members or other distractions. If you don’t have an entire room to spare, it may still be beneficial to set up a workspace within another part of your house, such as on the kitchen table or living room couch (if space allows).
The amount of time spent working from home depends greatly on how much work must be achieved each day/week/month, etc. Regardless of how much time is available, we suggest setting aside at least one day per week on which no distractions are allowed. This includes social media sites like Facebook or Twitter which drain energy from important tasks at hand, rather than helping to motivate towards completion of tasks.
Separate your Home and Work Lives
If you’re going to be working from home, it’s important that you have a separate space for both work and personal life. It’s easy to blur the line between these spaces. However, it is best to keep your work life at work and your personal life at home. This will make things much easier on you in the long run! For example:
- Don’t bring work home with you; leave it at the office or in a designated ‘work’ area of your house.
- And don’t talk about work when friends are visiting, or over dinner (unless they’re also working from home). You may want to say something like, “I’m sorry but my brain just isn’t ready to process any more information today!” This is especially true if most of your friends aren’t working from home − they won’t understand why you need time away from the office so much more than they do!
A calendar is a great tool for scheduling meetings and appointments; however, you can use it for more than this—you can also use it to manage your day-to-day tasks and activities in a very organized way.
- Chat with coworkers, clients, or other team members using an online chat program (or even a messaging app like WhatsApp). Keeping all your communications in one place makes life easier when trying to find something later on in the day (like an email exchange about your client’s request).
- Also, chatting with coworkers over video calls is another option if they are available during work hours (and not just after hours or while away from their desks). Video chat programs like Skype allow users to communicate face-to-face remotely on their computers.
Use the Right Tools
There are a number of tools and apps that can help you stay organized, communicate with coworkers and clients, remain productive, and stay focused on both your work and home projects. Here’s a brief list of some of our favorites:
This is our go-to app for organizations. You can easily create notes for yourself or others in any format you choose (text, photos, web pages—you name it). Evernote also has an easy tagging system so that you can find items later on when you need them. We keep all our client files in Evernote, allowing us to access them anywhere without having to lug around bulky folders or notebooks full of paper documents.
Google Drive (free)
Dropbox might seem like a better choice because it allows users to share files with others more easily than Google Drive does right now (this may change). However, we still prefer Google Drive because it integrates seamlessly with other Google products such as Gmail and Calendar. This makes sharing files much easier than Dropbox ever could hope to manage at this point in its life cycle − Dropbox does not yet have these features!
Have an Action Plan in Place
An action plan is a detailed list of tasks you need to complete in order to achieve your goals. Action plans allow you to stay focused and motivated: it’s, therefore, important to have an action plan in place before you start working from home.
Here are some examples of how action plans can be used:
- Assign your task’s priorities, such as A, B, or C.
- Create deadlines by when the task must be completed, or assign due dates based on when the project is due (e.g., the annual report due date is June 30).
- Break down large projects into smaller steps that are easier to manage (e.g., create one page of content per day instead of writing an entire book).
Establish Social Media Guidelines
It’s easy to become lost in the digital world, especially if you work from home. Social media is a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family; however, it can also drain away much of your time. It’s important to establish guidelines for yourself so that you don’t become too attached to your phone or laptop while working. If you want people in your personal life (family members) not to distract you on social media at work, make sure that they also have clear guidelines!
Here are some tips for keeping social media use under control while still being able to enjoy it:
- Set aside specific times of day at which all devices must go off (for example no phones allowed after dinner).
- Limit screen time before bedtime—no checking emails between 9 p.m.–11 p.m. No browsing through Twitter feeds after 11 p.m., etc.
Make sure your Internet Connection is Secure
A common misconception is that you can’t be safe when working from home − this is simply not true. To ensure your safety and privacy, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your traffic, and make sure that you have a strong password. When using public WiFi networks, consider using two-factor authentication for added security. Ensure that your home is secured with deadbolts on all doors, motion sensor lights or cameras on the outside of the house, and an alarm system inside the house—especially if you’re working late into the night. Also, secure yourself fully when working in unfamiliar locations.
Finally, consider choosing a secure cloud storage service like Box or Dropbox as an alternative to Google Drive or OneDrive. This could help if you are concerned about hackers stealing sensitive information from the servers of your service providers (which they’ve been known to do).
Self-care is vital to anyone, whether or not they work at home. If you are working from home, though, it’s easy to put self-care on the back burner because of the convenience of being able to work from the bed or from your couch. Such convenience can be helpful in terms of creating a flexible schedule. However, it also means that you must make extra efforts to ensure that you get up and move around— even if there are no clients waiting for responses, or calls coming in.
You might think that when working remotely there would be less need for self-care because there aren’t any coworkers nearby. No one is there to help with getting out of bed and taking a shower when you need one. However, having no coworkers can sometimes mean more pressure on your personal life than would be applied when having them!
When thinking about self-care as an essential part of any job or career path (not just when people work from home), here are some common choices people must follow:
- Eat healthy meals (or snacks) throughout the day; don’t skip breakfast!
- Spend time outdoors every day for at least half an hour (even if it’s just going down to a nearby park).
- Exercise regularly—in fact, scheduling regular exercise times in one’s day can increase productivity over time. Exercise helps us feel better mentally and physically after each workout session ends! This is especially true when having fun like playing tennis with friends on weekends. Exercise is a good alternative to watching TV all day long, and eating junk food off our laps while lying down.
Maintain Consistent Schedules and Presence
It’s important to be consistent with your working hours, availability, and attendance. If you have a set time that you can be available each day, this will help ensure that people are able to reach you when they need to.
If possible, arrange for the same days off each week or month so that people know which days they can count on seeing you before noon or after five. Whatever works best for you will work best for other coworkers as well!
The last thing anyone wants is for their boss or coworker not to respond until the following day because she was “in meetings all day” or “didn’t see the email until later”. Lame excuses are sometimes offered, rather than admitting why it took so long to respond. It’s not good enough to simply say ‘sorry’ (which isn’t an excuse). Being sorry is better than nothing, but annoying nonetheless: when we send out emails asking questions about deadlines like “how long do we have left?” we expect answers right away − why else would one bother to ask at all?
Provide Structure and Feedback for Employees
- Provide a clear outline of what is expected.
- Provide regular feedback to employees.
- Set deadlines for tasks and projects.
- Provide a clear outline of the process of how to approach problems, whether they be technical or social in nature.
Working from home can be difficult, but with a few simple guidelines, you can make it work for you as well as for your boss or employees.
- Working from home can help you save money on transportation, which means more money in your pocket.
- You don’t have to commute to get to work! That’s a huge benefit for those who live far from their offices, or just want to stay out of traffic.
- Not having an office can make you feel that you’re not part of the team. However, it also gives you more freedom and flexibility that most people don’t have at work—and this can make your job more productive and enjoyable!
- If your boss doesn’t trust that you’ll get the job done at home, consider investing in a second computer. You can separate your personal life from professional activities like emails or phone calls with customers/clients/colleagues during business hours (or whatever times are agreed upon by everyone). If nothing works well between both parties involved, perhaps working remotely isn’t right for either party after all.
We hope that these tips will help you get started on the right foot and feel more confident about working from home. Remember to keep your workspace organized; separate your work from your personal life, and use the appropriate tools for each task. The most important thing is to be consistent in order to make this new lifestyle sustainable!