How to Work Successfully from Home
About 10 percent of Americans regularly work from home, according to a Stanford University report. Working from home can lead to more productive, more satisfied employees, but many businesses are still concerned that work-from-home programs will lead to an increase in goofing off. Others are concerned that when workers are not physically together in the office, it becomes harder to collaborate and have those spontaneous conversations that are essential for brainstorming and innovation. According to the Stanford study at a large call center, home working led to a 13 percent performance increase.
Here are four steps to making work from home work for you.
1. The Sign-In
- Upon waking, get yourself ready: do some yoga, some breathing exercises, have coffee, breakfast — whatever your ideal morning routine is, get it done.
- Take a shower, and put on clothes you’d find acceptable to wear in public (not your pajamas).
- Dedicate a decent-sized drinking vessel for water, and refill it as many times as you can throughout the day. It will serve as your sidekick consumable (in the place of corn chips), and it will keep you hydrated and on a sort of bottle refilling/emptying rhythm.
- Remember that you’re a social being. Despite your solitary status (discounting your partner, the computer), remind yourself that you still exist in a world with other people, at least some of whom would like to hear from you. Whether you’re on a conference call or you’re speaking to other remote workers, it’s important to maintain your presence.
- Stay present and connected. Stay connected with your coworkers and clients through your mobile devices and business phone systems. ShoreTel Dock transforms your smartphone and tablet into a deskphone for the modern age. Add the ShoreTel Mobility Client, and you will have unified communications applications including location-aware presence and instant messaging on your mobile device and you can use your smartphone or tablet as your primary communications device.
- There’s a fine line between self-discipline and self-flagellation, and giving yourself some breathing room (by literally doing breathing exercises), and leaving the room (by literally leaving your home for brief walks). If you don’t have a treadmill at your desk, you have a good excuse to get away every once in a while, especially if you feel like you’re hitting a wall.
2. Take Command of Your Workstation
- Establish clear communication boundaries between you and your family or friends, find a sitter for your kids, and always keep your cat off the keyboard. It may be hard at first for your family and pets to understand this, but you are at work, and they should consider you relatively invisible unless there’s a real emergency, and until you’ve ended your workday.
- Clear your desk of all clutter and stimuli. A well-ordered, clean workstation is not to be underestimated.
- Ensure good lighting conditions, a sturdy, semi-comfortable chair (if you forgot how to sit in a chair, click here), and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse to ease the strain on those tapping fingers. Try downloading f.lux, an app that softens the harsh glow of your computer screen.
- Replace your TV with a plant. TVs, video game systems, and other objects of recreation only serve as distractions. Just know that you’ll get to them later, but for now they need to be hidden from view.
3. Manage and Track Your Time
- Craft a Task List, with a few duties in the NEED column and a few in the WANT column. Your needs are vital, and your wants are aspirational.
- Don’t look at the clock every five minutes; instead, when you’re feeling distracted ask yourself if you truly need a break, or if you’re just bored. If it’s the former, go take a walk, a jog, or do some push-ups. If it’s boredom, put on some instrumental (no lyrics) music and feel yourself climbing back into the flow of work by way of subliminal distraction (according to a study by Mayo Clinic, it takes about 15 to 30 minutes of music listening to regain concentration).
- If you’re in the position to work on your own time, shape your work hours around your life. You can be your own time boss, but make sure you’re not cheating your own schedule.
- Go out for lunch at a specific time each day. Lunch doubles as a refueling mechanism and a break from your work, so do yourself a favor and rid your mind of work thoughts during this brief period of rest.
4. The Sign-Off
- Recount your daily accomplishments (and shortcomings), how efficient you think you were with your time, and then try to figure out ways in which you can improve. If you’re in a managing role, ask your employees to log what they’ve done during the day at home, and encourage them to take some time to strategize, together if possible, on ways they can work most effectively. Take a look at some apps available for time-tracking.
If you find your home an unimaginable workspace, find a good cafe and pretend it’s your office.