The alarm goes off at 7:50am and you roll out of bed. You take your new thirty second commute to the desk nearby and turn on your computer. Are you dreaming? Not in the slightest, friends – you’re working from home! Yes, many companies are adopting the work-from-home paradigm and while it is proven to boost productivity and can even save companies money, there are still some challenges associated with working from home. Today we’re going to take a look at some of these challenges and provide you with the strategies you need to overcome them. Let’s get started.
The Loss of a Routine
All kidding aside, it is not advisable to simply roll out of bed and get to work. You might be home, but you should still have some semblance of a routine each morning. With the commute forever eliminated, you can use that hour for some exercise, and to make a nutritious breakfast. It’s a fact that exercising in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day, so why not start off with some of that good old vigor?
The Pajama Dress Code
We’ve all heard the jokes about people wearing a shirt and tie and pajama pants, and while the jokes are still really funny and totally have not gotten old yet, we should be putting more effort into looking the part. When you dress for work, you'll feel like you’re at work and thus you’ll be more inclined to stay focused and productive. Don’t fret, you’ve still got far more time than you ever had before to put together a decent look in the morning, what with the whole no driving thing and all.
The Communication Breakdown
Now that you’re working from home, you might have noticed things are a bit quieter than they used to be. That’s because you’re no longer occupying the same space as your coworkers! Luckily, there are many tools at our disposal to help us stay in touch, such as Zoom, Skype, Slack, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, email, SMS text messages, and ye olde telephone calls – perhaps even while harnessing the power of satellites! At any rate, it pays to keep in touch, even if it’s a simple good morning or an update on what you’ve been working on. The bottom line is don’t be invisible.
The Trouble with Time Management
You used to start at 9am, take lunch around 12 or 1pm, and close up shop by 6pm. Experience may vary, but the point is you had your day all cut out for you. Now you might feel like you’re drifting along in the nebulous flow of what I so lovingly call “work-from-home time.” The strategy? Create a schedule and stick to it. For example, maybe you check your emails at the beginning of your shift, then start working on the current project at 9:30am. If you take a break, make sure to set an alarm to let you know when it’s time to get back to work. Keep track of what you’re doing each day by logging it into your cell phone, or a document on your computer. Soon, you’ll be in the habit of keeping a routine and you won’t find yourself meandering through the day.
The Lurking Distractions
This can be very challenging for some people. If you’ve got children that are home from school, it could be virtually impossible to get everything done during the day. If you can’t afford a babysitter or prefer your children to stay at home when they’re not in school, try talking to your boss about it. Some companies are more flexible and will be understanding if you get the bulk of your work done later in the evening when the kids are asleep. Just make sure you’re accounting for deadlines and the like. If your children make an impromptu appearance in your Zoom meeting, just know that this is going to be the way of the world, and more times than not people are also understanding about that.
This particular topic deserves a bit more attention, as distractions can take many forms. If you are one that finds yourself easily distracted by almost anything, it might be best to set a series of reminders to keep you on track during the day. In fact, many of the tips covered in the previous entry about time management can be applied here. Another trick is to make a list of the goals you’d like to accomplish in both the short term and the long term, and do your best to stick to them. If you keep the list in a place where you can always see it, it will serve as a constant reminder of what your objectives are. Lastly, share your goals with your boss – that should help you keep yourself on track.
The Right Amount of Downtime
Working from home can sometimes cause burnout. It starts with you telling yourself that you don’t mind working longer hours because you’re at home, and then eventually you find yourself unable to stop yourself from working. Remember that while your boss will always appreciate your extra effort, it won’t do anyone any favors when you’re exhausted from burnout by mid-week. Make sure to stop at a decent time and let yourself unwind in preparation for the next day. Use that extra time wisely and only when it is absolutely necessary, and give yourself plenty of rest between shifts.
And there you have it! Working from home certainly has its advantages, but you must always be wary of the drawbacks. Like many things in life it’s a balancing act, and with these tips you’ll be living the dream in no time.
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