A lot has changed since we started an answering service in 1966. The main thing, of course, being the technology that keeps us running. This year, we’ve made it our goal to close down our traditional office for good and have all of our staff working from home. Some people think of working from home as living the dream! They love the idea of working in their pajamas, avoiding a long commute, or having the ability to care for their family members in the same space that contribute an income. Others, however, are quite hesitant. And for good reason! Working from home comes with its own degree of challenges. But, don’t worry. If you looking to make the transition from a traditional office life and you’d like to know how to work from home successfully, we’ve got you covered with all of the right working from home tips.
The Pros of Working from Home
Well, we already mentioned the pajamas thing, right? What more do you NEED?
All jokes aside, a lack of dress code isn’t the only positive to working from home. Working from home can benefit the employee as well as the business owner.
A Few Pros:
- No commute. Your employees save time and money when they work from home and it often boosts overall morale.
- More productivity. Some studies have shown that remote workers are more productive. Though it is still up for debate, you may find that your employees are willing to work harder so that they can continue working in this environment.
- Fewer sick days. If there’s less concern for infecting others, people are generally still willing and able to get work done from home.
- Less overheard. You won’t be paying the additional cost of rent for office space, office supplies or office snacks. Since IBM started its remote work program, they’ve saved $100 million ANNUALLY on snacks alone!
- More options in hiring. When it comes to find good employees and how to hire them, you’ll have the pick of the litter. Why? Because you’re no longer limited to your geographical area.
- Less incidences of burnout. When employees are working on their own terms, they’re less likely to feel overwhelmed by their work experience.
- Plenty more! Check out Entrepreneur’s article on why you should let your employees work from home.
The Cons of Working from Home
The thing about working where you live is that, well, you also have to live there. And home has its own set of work that needs to be done. Someone’s got to eventually wash those pajamas you’re wearing every day, don’t they? Oftentimes a big struggle for those who work from home is finding a work life balance. When does work end and lunch begin? Should I do these dishes I just made while making lunch right now, or should I return back to work? This is enough to cause decision fatigue, no doubt.
Working from home isn’t always ideal. A Few Cons:
- It takes a lot of self discipline. When your employees don’t have a hard start to the beginning of their work day, it may be more difficult for them to get started. Once they’re started, it may be even harder for them to stay focused.
- No outside pressure. Ever walk up to one of your employees desks and they quickly change their tab from Facebook to a work-related interface? Some people have a hard time staying on task without the outside pressure of another worker.
- Loneliness. This may seem like a personal problem, but remote workers are more isolated than those who have a typical work environment. Because loneliness is dangerous to mental and physical health, you don’t want your employees suffering in this way.
- An imbalance of work/life. An employee with free reign of their time spent could easily go in the wrong direction, whether it’s overwork or over play. Either could be unhealthy for your business or the individual.
- Less ad-hoc learning. A team of like-minded individuals sharing a space for work is a great environment for brainstorming, idea sharing and learning. When someone is away from the office, they’ll have to seek out continued education on their own terms.
Working from Home Tips: Making the Adjustment
It can be difficult to adjust to working from home if you’ve been working in a traditional office environment for a long time. The cons mentioned above can take a toll on your overall productivity and your mood. The following working from home tips from thebalance.com can definitely help you learn how to work from home successfully.
Have a Designated Work Area
You should have a designated work space (or two) just like you did when you were working at your traditional office. Though you aren’t limited to a cubicle, you’ll find that when you have a space in which you always work, you’ll find more ease in getting into the swing of things. And do your best to keep it clean–a cluttered work space can end up costing you thousands of dollars worth of productivity.
Stick to Routines
Routines are crucial to productivity. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. When you have a routine, you are less likely to suffer decision fatigue from deciding when to do what. It’s important to have plans and routines around your work time when you work from home so that you will have specific expectations that will be met.
Unfortunately, when people learn that you work from home, they don’t always take it as seriously as you do. Sometimes people hear “work from home” and they think you’re paid to do nothing! You’ll have to have firm boundaries in place so that your friends who are stay-at-home moms, retired, or funemployed won’t assume that you have all the time in the world to play all day and those who’ve overbooked their schedules won’t assume you have all the time in the world for doing favors.
Things will come up. Lets be honest, things already came up back in the office. Susan’s birthday would roll around and you and your coworkers would be in a cake coma all afternoon. Or Bob would insist on stopping by your desk after every time he went to refill his coffee mug.
At home, the distractions can look a little different, depending on the reasons for making the switch. Maybe it’s a crying infant, a dog that needs to be walked, or the latest episode of your favorite trash TV being released. Whatever it is, know that distractions happen. Don’t beat yourself up over it and plan to spend some extra time on tasks in the event that something comes up.
Enjoy your Independence
It’s easy to get bogged down and feel like working from home successfully is out of your reach. It takes a lot of motivation and discipline to continue to keep your output high day after day, week after week. But working from home is still a privilege! Don’t forget that there are many people that would love to be in the same position.
Maintain a Presence at the Main Office
Assuming there is one, of course. What we mean by this is to keep in contact with the rest of the staff, better than you usually would. Report in with your colleagues, staff and boss (whichever is applicable) often so that they’ll know you’re alive and productive.
Working from Home Tips: Productivity
Lifehack! Listen to the same songs on repeat to get in ‘the zone’ for working from home. It might seem a little loony, but it turns out that the practice has the potential to boost concentration and focus.
Find a song on repeat to be insufferable? There’s another auditory option that’s been known to increase focus: brown noise. Brown noise contains all of the frequencies audible to humans, boosting the lower frequency range. This type of noise hushes any and all distractions.
These aren’t just working from home tips. They’re work from anywhere tips! If your line of work doesn’t require a lot of specialized technology, oftentimes you can bring a laptop and work from just about anywhere with an internet connection. You may have a designated work space, as advised above, but still find your mind and body wandering to other parts of your home. On days like this, its really best to do what you can to find another environment that will be better for your overall productivity.
Working from Home Tips: Health
Invest in a Good Chair
Working from home often requires a lot of time spent in front of the computer. If you’re doing that much sitting, it’s important to purchase a high-quality ergonomic chair. This will place your body in the ideal position for sitting, correct your posture, and lower your likelihood for issues with too much sitting.
Or, Ditch the Chair Entirely
An even better option: don’t sit at all! Standing desks aren’t outside of the norm anymore, and you can find more affordable options to suit your needs. Or, if all else fails, you technically could make your kitchen counter your designated work space. I cant say we’d recommend mixing computers and cooking, though.
If you have your workout in your datebook, it isn’t as easy to procrastinate until the day is over. So we recommend scheduling your workouts just as you would a meeting with another person
Create an Ideal Environment
You should know by now that a cluttered work space can result in lost productivity and, ultimately, cash. But there’s something special about your work space when it’s away from a traditional office. When you work from home, you have more options than tacking Post-Its next to your computer and a framed family photo. You have free range of your space! What would bring additional joy to your work space that isn’t an option at a traditional office. Well, you can remove your headphones and enjoy your music without being tethered to the computer. You could add candles, and make your area cozy, comfortable and hygge.
Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a Danish term that can be summed up as the quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. And you can even have hygge in a work environment, according to The Little Book of Hygge.
Stock your Kitchen with Healthy Snack and Meals
When you start college, people warn you about the freshman fifteen: the additional weight you’re likely to gain when you’re out of your parent’s house, on your own, and eating whatever you can seem to microwave. Yet, when you start working from home, no one warns you about the likelihood of putting on a few pounds. That is, if you’re not careful.
Why do people gain weight when they work from home? It’s simple. Convenience foods and convenience to the refrigerator with lower movement throughout the day. It’s a bad combination. If you’re hoping to stay healthy while working from home, it’s important for your convenience foods to be healthy choices. So, keep the corn chips out of your pantry and the frozen pizzas out of the freezer. Stock your home with healthy choices.
What to Wear?
I know, you’re probably pretty set on the pajama thing. It sounds wonderful! And dressing in a suit and tie just to log in on the couch seems a little silly.
But the thing is, what you’re wearing changes your mindset. It’s proven through science, believe it or not. When subjects adorned a white coat that they were told was a doctor’s coat, they had increased cognitive ability than when told it was an artist’s smock. It’s called embodied cognition.
There’s a couple of things you can do with thins psychological knowledge to have a better work-life experience when working from home.
Some people start their day by changing from their pajamas into workout clothes right away. Those clothes will put you in a more active mood. They also aren’t quite as comfortable as lounge wear, so some use that as an incentive to work out, put those clothes to use, then change into something else.
Another thing you can do is more obvious: wear more professional clothes in order to stay in a professional mindset. No matter how silly it seems, you can’t knock what works.
Another reason many people gain weight when they work from home is because they have less incidental exercise. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, it’s the type of body movement you do when you’re not at the gym, but you’re still using your body more than when you’re sitting down. If you’d like to incorporate more incidental exercise into your life while working from home, try the following.
- Use the bathroom further from your desk if you have more than one. Even better if you use one on a different floor.
- Consider heading to local establishments to run your errands rather than ordering online.
- Choose to park your car farther away from the entrance when you go on these errands.
Eat Away From Your Desk
Allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying a meal. Don’t eat it out of a plastic container you just microwaved while you’re still looking through your email. In Mireille Guiliano’s book, French Women Don’t get Fat, she writes that when you take the joy and pleasure out of eating rich and delicious food by being distracted, you feel less satiated following the meal and more likely to eat more calories over all.
Keep Regular Hours
Just because you can work from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. doesn’t mean you should work from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., you know what I’m saying? Keeping regular hours helps you to maintain a routine and to give you a better work-life balance.
Working from Home: Avoiding Burnout
Meet up with someone for lunch, phone a friend, or be a part of a group hobby. Isolation is an ugly spiral that you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of. Yet it’s so much easier for someone who works from home to fall into it. Reach out and do it often.
Keep Work Time Separate
If you end up getting distracted during the day and have to do your work tasks in the evening, you’re going to end up feeling pretty crummy. Keep office hours and do your best to stay on track.
Know When to Say No
Just as you may have to make your work hours clear to those in your personal life, you may need to make your work hours clear to those in your professional life. Decide when you’ll place boundaries. No emails or phone checking seems fair to your family and your workplace. That is, unless you’re on call.
Apply this to your small business
Working from home successfully is difficult for even the most competent and talented workers, but you may find that this type of work environment works best for your small business.
Now, try this…
Times are changing and more and more companies are offering flew hours and allowing their employees to work from home. Give it a try! Remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can offer your employees a more flexible work schedule and see what works best for your small business.