Be it for the coronavirus outbreak, that forced many to start working from home, or for the changing work market, with many jobs that are remote from the very beginning (e.g. copywriters, search engine evaluators, translators, some customer care or developer jobs…) the result is that more and more people are now working from home. Which for some may be a dream come true (working from home has undoubted advantages, first of all not having to commute) but for others, it may result in a nightmare.
Working from home may mean loneliness, isolation from colleagues and the absence of borders between private and work life. If you were used to having a dedicated workplace this is even more true: the abrupt change can be difficult to cope with. Whether you are enjoying this new way of working, or finding it difficult, we have gathered a couple of tips (and a fantastic course) to make your working-from-home day easier and more productive!
Set morning and evening routines
When you commute to your workplace, everything you do (leaving your home, travelling, stepping into the office, the morning coffee with colleagues) helps you to leave behind the home-space and step into the work frame of mind, which requires concentration and dedication. On the flip side, when you actually leave the office, that is a signal for your brain that your work day is finished and that you can relax and think of something else.
When you work from home these routines are missing, and you risk never mentally entering the “work-time” mood, being continuously subject to all kinds of distractions (from the laundry to the meals, from physical discomfort to endless scrolling of social networks). So even if you work from home, you should set and maintain morning and evening routines, that help your brain to trigger work mode or to relax after a hard work day.
Do have working (and non-working) hours
One of the key advantages of working from home is the possibility of being free from the fixed 9 to 5 setting. Do you want to work from 11 pm to 6 am? You are free to do that (of course provided that your colleagues and boss are aware) but is it a good idea? In fact, the more you manage to maintain quite regular working hours the more your health, mental sanity and productivity will benefit. In other words, even if you don’t have a clock-in time, try acting as if you do, at least in part, because that will give structure to your day and will help you work better.
It may be home but is nonetheless your office: choose a workplace and defend it
The office is the office. When you’re in your office, no one should disturb you. Alas, this is easier said than done. Often when you work from home, family members, children or housemates may feel entitled to step into your workplace addressing you with everything, from the meaning of life to the need of buying some milk. Instead, you should choose a place inside the home and defend it against any invader, treating it as if it was your desk in your real workplace, specifying (even to yourself) that when you’re there you’re completely dedicated to work.
Go outside, have a break
The risk when you work from home is burying yourself into your house. Big error. To be productive you need some breaks, you need to take your eyes off the screen and possibly have some fresh air. If you have a garden or a park nearby it would be perfect but otherwise also a little walk along the street would be ok. You’ll work better when you go back.
Keep on top of your tech
If your devices start acting up, if the internet is too slow, if you don’t have a printer or a scanner, if you use your private or maybe old phone for your work, things may become annoying and in the worst cases you could be unable to work efficiently. So ask your office for everything you need to work effectively or if you are a freelancer, take care of these aspects yourself because they will undoubtedly make everything easier. Working with a malfunctioning PC is like trying to cook using a blunt knife.
Avoid isolation at all costs
When considering the pros and the cons of working from home, quite surprisingly being alone may be both, depending on the kind of person you are. Of course it can spare you a lot of noise, disturbances, and unwanted sudden requests…but it can also make you feel detached from people, from the small talk between colleagues and in the worst case, also from some opportunities for growth. So even if by nature you’re not a people person you should try to remain connected with your colleagues, participate in meetings, if available take courses and training opportunities, spend some minutes just chatting with other people involved in the same business as you.
Take care of yourself
Last but not least, you should take care of yourself, preserving your well being, your appearance, your self-esteem. When you work from home you may feel sloppy, invisible, demotivated.
You shouldn’t allow this to happen. You should take care of your look, get dressed as if going to the office, treat yourself with nice healthy meals, do some physical exercise, in other words do anything that is necessary to lift your spirit and wellbeing, because no one works effectively if not feeling well. In other words: take care of yourself. That will also mean taking care of your work.