The Art of Working From Home
Here are a few pro tips on surviving and thriving in the new home office reality.
It is estimated that approximately 45 percent of the workforce will be working from home in some capacity by the end of 2021. For someone who has worked remotely for the better part of the past 30 years, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you can increase your productivity by working from home. The bad news is you’ll need to be twice as focused to get there. Here are some helpful tips and strategies to ensure that your productivity increases and you're maximizing your potential from the home office.
Keep your routine
When you were working from a corporate office, you woke up at the same time every day; you got dressed, had your coffee, and arrived at your office by a certain time. Your workday started by checking voicemails, emails, having scheduled calls and meetings, going to lunch, taking breaks and leaving at the same time every day. All of the sudden, you find yourself working from home and the routine is the first thing to go. Don’t let that happen.
Start by dressing for the office. As hall of fame defensive back Deon Sanders famously said, “If you look good, you feel good, If you feel good, you play good, If you play good, they pay good.” Getting up at the same time every day and getting dressed as if you are going into the office puts you in a professional state of mind.
Make sure you arrive at your home office at the same time every day. This may sound funny because your home office may be a few feet or 20 yards away; however, by doing this, you stay in a routine and begin your day when everyone else in your company does.
In addition, try to leave the home office at the same time every day to maintain your routine.
Another part of maintaining a routine is to make sure you check your voicemails and emails as if you were in the office. This is not only expected, but it’s also a great way to keep pace with your daily tasks and goals. As a managing partner of a corporation, it’s frustrating at the end of the day when the employee on the other line has no idea what’s been taking place because they haven’t checked emails or voicemails all day.
Also, make sure to establish your office hours with everyone else in the house. I cannot stress enough how important this is, and it can be difficult to juggle. Families need to understand that when the door is closed, we are at work. If your door is open, then you’re at home. It’s challenging to be productive when you’re being interrupted every 10 minutes with personal matters.
Talk to people and take breaks
Working from home is an excellent opportunity to maximize your time and productivity because you don’t have the same distractions you have at a corporate office. However, if you try to replace a face-to-face job with email or text communication only, you may become disconnected from the overall business plan and frequently run into misunderstandings. It is essential to stay connected and have a clear understanding of what is going on with department or division activity. My goal is to make ten phone calls before 10 a.m every day. Ending the day with at least five calls to team members ensures that we’ve completed everything that we needed to complete.
Taking breaks and having lunch at the home office can be tough because it’s easy to become so involved with what we're doing that time flies by. However, if we don’t take breaks and stop to have lunch, the walls will start closing in. Keep in mind that the home office is not the lunchroom, and whenever possible, go to lunch outside of the house if you have somewhere close and can afford it. It’s important to sit down and eat in a different space.
Separate your home and work spaces
The last time I checked, the corporate office doesn't have a living room or master bedroom. These are huge distractions because these rooms are also the areas in which we relax when we are not working. If possible, make it a habit to stay away from these rooms during work hours. Try to maintain a similar environment to what existed when working at a corporate office.
Often, we are limited by the amount of space we have, but that shouldn't dictate our level of production or organization. With many meetings being handled via video conference, it’s important to maintain a neat, organized, and well-lit workstation. Bright lighting in the home office allows one to feel like they are in a corporate office setting. Whether a desk or table is used doesn’t matter as long as it’s set up to maximize productivity.
Leave your office and turn off the light
When your workday ends, it’s critical that the home office location is shut down, enabling the separation of the business from the personal. Often at the end of the workday, I actually leave my house and go to the gym for an hour. For me, physically leaving the environment that I’ve been in all day resets me and prepares me for transitioning to personal time.
Following these suggestions will give you a good start on the road to success as a home office employee. Over the years, I’ve learned that failing to keep yourself disciplined will lead to a lack of productivity and have negative employment consequences. Stay focused and enjoy the benefits that can come from working at home.
Related: Is Working from Home Here to Stay?