Working from home (WFH) is the newest acronym to invade our professional lexicon. Some of you may already be working from home pros, while others may be brand new to working remotely. Pandemic or not, working from home is becoming a way of life for many. Companies are seeing the value in allowing employees to skip time-consuming and costly commutes in favor of increased productivity and overall happiness.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says less than 30% of American employees can actually work from their homes given what they do. Many service workers have to be physically present to do their jobs (e.g., grocery store and restaurant workers). If you are in the 30% needing to adapt to working from home, read on for our top 10 tips for working from home. The MC Team has been a fully remote and global team since 2008 – take it from us, once you learn how to work from home effectively, you’ll never want to go back!
10 Tips for How to Work from Home
Ensure You Have the Technology You Need
There are a number of tips on how to work from home effectively, but you won’t get very far without the technology and internet bandwidth you need. Our first and most important working from home tip is to ensure you work with your organization to get the hardware, software, and internet service needed to work from home.
Will your company supply a laptop and ensure you are able to connect to a VPN? Do you have adequate bandwidth from your internet provider to support your at-home work while your child plays Fortnite with his friends?
Trust us, dropped calls and spotty internet service are no fun. Not only is this very frustrating for you and your co-workers, but can greatly impact your productivity.
Set Expectations with Management
Working from home means it is harder for management and co-workers to motivate you to get your work done. It is your responsibility to ensure the work gets done. Make no mistake. Your boss and co-workers should find that you are just accessible at home as at the office.
Have a conversation with your boss about expectations. Discuss your schedule, how you plan to communicate, and what they expect from you while you are working from home. An up-front conversation is worth it to safeguard against any issues down the road.
Have a similar conversation with co-workers that rely on you. Ensure they know that you are just as available and talk through ways to ensure you don’t lose contact and face time. Your connections at work will be more important now than ever since you don’t have the ability to have those impromptu coffee-break conversations.
We can’t stress this one enough. Do you have certain hours in the day where you are more productive? Do you need a quiet, distraction-free area to work productively? Do you have a hard time sitting still for too long?
If you find you are most productive between certain hours of the day, ensure this is when you schedule time to get work done. Perhaps you can schedule conference calls at other times. Create a space for yourself that is quiet and away from pets and kids if needed. Schedule breaks into your day when you know you need a quick refresh and go for a quick walk for some fresh air and movement.
As much as we love a good pair of pajamas, you just won’t feel as productive in them. Go ahead and shower and put on clothes you wouldn’t mind wearing during a video meeting. Your mind will be set on work when you feel dressed for your day. PJs might be fun for a day, but the novelty will wear off when you realize that your outfit helps determine your productivity.
Keep Connections with Co-Workers
One of the long-time concerns of work from home arrangements is the lack of time teams are able to spend together. A secondary concern is that employees could become lonely and this can impact productivity.
We all need people in our lives. It will be up to you to build connection while working from home. Schedule face-to-face calls over Zoom and use video to connect when you can. You may want to consider scheduling a virtual happy hour so you can emulate the social interactions you had with co-workers before you started working remotely.
Set a Schedule and Stick with It (and share this schedule with others in your home)
One of the big reasons you are so productive in the office is because of your routine. You pull up to work, grab a coffee, say hello to co-workers and the boss and get down to business. You will need a routine now more than ever to ensure stellar remote work productivity.
Create a morning routine and a schedule for the day and share it with those around you at home. Make sure to schedule when you start and end work and when you take breaks.
Have a Dedicated Space for Work
Just as you have a dedicated space for work at the office, you need a dedicated space for working from home. This is one of our best tips for working from home effectively. Some of you may be just fine at the kitchen counter. However, if you are a mom and have kids at home, a room with a door may be your saving grace. Create a dedicated space for work at home to put yourself in the best position to succeed.
Communicate More than Less
Working from home means others will not see your (beautiful) face. This can be challenging. Tone and meaning can easily be lost and misinterpreted over email. And when you are not seen, it is easier to forget you exist. This is simply a fact of life and work.
Communication is king, and more is almost always better than less. Ensure you are updating co-workers timely on work status and ensure your manager is updated on progress and any key issues. Ensure you schedule regular touch base calls as needed to keep people up to date and informed. Communicate more than less – your coworkers will thank you for it.
Take a Break
Some people take too many breaks working from home, but others don’t take enough of them. Not taking breaks can detrimentally impact your productivity. Your brain can only work so long at peak performance without a break (and coffee, of course). Ensure you get up, stretch and get some fresh air. It’s critical that you eat your lunch and stay hydrated at all times, but even more so when working from home.
Prioritize Your Work
In addition to having a schedule you stick to, create a to-do list each evening before you end your day. This way you are sure to know where to start the next morning. Organize, organize, organize.
Working from Home – There is Likely More of this in the Future
Employers are investing in ways to ensure they are prepared so their employees can work from home. Many now see the benefits of having the ability to support a remote workforce. Given the circumstances we are currently experiencing, we see a future that will include working from home for even more of us. We hope you have gleaned a few ideas and tips for how to work from home more productively.
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