Working from home. Everyone is doing it these days when they can.
Whether the arrangements are full-time or part-time, an increasing amount of jobs allow the employee to work from the comfort of their own home.
For some businesses, it makes perfect sense. Let the employee stay at home and you don’t need to worry about covering the cost of the office supplies for those employees: desks, chairs, computers, and the coveted snack bar. Many even claim that working from home boosts productivity. One study published by HBR saw a company offer telecommuting options to their call center employees. Aside from saving money by allowing them to work from home, the employees even had a 13.5% increase in productivity.
But working from home also provides challenges and distractions. So how can you make sure to benefit from your time spent working at home?
Here are 6 ways to make working from home as productive as possible.
Start by Setting Boundaries
You may share your home with: a roommate, a spouse, children, parents, in-laws, or pets. They all need to know that you are at work. Make it clear to whomever you share the living space with that you have boundaries that need to be respected. These boundaries can be in the form of physical space (if the office door is closed, I’m on the clock!) or time blocks (9-1 and 2-6 are off limits!) – or a combination of both.
Create a Workspace You Feel Comfortable in
If your at home office space isn’t quiet and comfortable, you won’t want to spend much time there. You’ll never get anything accomplished if your computer is next to a washing machine. Find a quiet space that will make you feel excited and energized. This is your opportunity to have that corner office space you’ve always dreamed of, so make it your own. On the other hand, don’t grab your laptop and fall into a la-z-boy. The comforts of your home can be your enemy and sap your productivity.
Block off the Distractions
Hide the remote? Easy. Set the cell phone to silent? No problem. But when you are working from home, how can avoid the temptation to pop on Facebook every 5 minutes? How can you stay focused? Like everything else in life, there’s an app for that. StayFocusd is an extension for your browser that allows you to limit the amount of time you spend on certain websites (social media, news sites, etc) or completely block you from visiting until a predetermined time. Set it to keep you from visiting any of the websites besides the ones you need to get your work done until your workday ends, or only allow yourself 5 minutes of social media time.
Keep Yourself on Track
If you have a regular routine that you keep at work, don’t change that routine just because you are working from home. Do you religiously check and reply to all your emails at 9 am, and 4pm? Does your lunch break run from 12-1? Do you have recurring team meetings that you prepare for between 3:15 and 3:30? When it comes to time management, people often think that working at home means it goes right out the window. They can start their day early, take a long break, and come back at 5 to finish up. That will put you into a bad habit of procrastination and can have a big impact on how you work with the rest of your 9-5 coworkers back in the office.
Keep up Communications
Don’t block yourself off from your coworkers who are in the office. Be available on Skype, Slack, or whatever your company uses to communicate.
Schedule Some Breaks
Workaholics need breaks too. Sitting in your home office for 8 hours at a time is stressful and will sap your energy. Take occasional breaks to clear your mind and step away from the desk. Apply the Pomodoro technique, or similar time blocking measures to remind yourself to get moving. Take those breaks and clean the house, go for a walk outside, play with your dog – whatever it might be. Just avoid the habit of flipping on the TV, which can quickly turn into watching an entire James Bond marathon that ends at 11PM. Those are tough to step away from. I know.