Seven Work from Home Tips to Ensure Success

Seven Work from Home Tips to Ensure Success

For much of my professional career I have had the opportunity to work from home on a regular basis. Whether you are one of the millions suddenly working from home, or just want to be more productive, here are seven essential work-from-home tips to help you stay productive while still maintaining good work-life balance.

1. Dedicated Work from Home Space

First, consider the environment you will be laboring in while working remote. Chances are you are going to spend a good chunk of time each day on the phone. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, adequate lighting and space for monitors, printers and anything else you may need.

Ideally, find a place where you can close the door and separate yourself from other distractions around the home. However, when that is not the case, consider plugging in to work with a good set of headphones.

Also, clear your workspace of as many distractions as possible. This might include positioning your computer monitor away from tantalizing televisions or a window where neighbors are constantly walking by. One of the worst offenders is your cell phone. Often to minimize that distraction I charge my phone in another room.

2. Prepare for Success

When working from home, routines become a big key to success. When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, make sure to get up! It sounds like simple advice but rolling out of bed five minutes before your first meeting is not the most effective way to start your day. Give yourself time to prepare before you begin your day.

Since you are saving time by not commuting, consider getting in some exercise, even if it is just a jog around the block, taking the time to prepare a real breakfast (the most important meal of the day!) and mentally get ready to tackle the day.

Especially if you have the luxury of setting your own hours, make sure you start work on time. We are all creatures of habit and once you settle into a routine getting started each day working from home will be a breeze.

3. Dress for Success while you work from home

There have been countless jokes about wearing pajamas while working remote. As much as we joke about the coworker on a video conference while not wearing pants, the clothes you wear really do influence your attitude and approach to work. Believe it or not, dressing up while working from home boosts your productivity.

While working on my Master’s degree at Utah Valley University, my cohort and I were encouraged to wear business casual clothes to class each day because multiple studies have shown what we wear really does impact how we present ourselves and how prepared we are mentally to perform well.

Here is just one simple example from a 2012 Northwestern University study by Adam Galinsky and Hajo Adam concluded that wearing a lab coat instead of a jacket really did improve mental performance.

4. Maintain Work-Life Balance

One of the biggest challenges for me while working remote is drawing that clear distinction between work hours and personal time. Like me, I am sure you want to demonstrate your value to the company. You want to be available, attentive and responsible. You want to show that, even though you are not in the office, you are still a valuable member of the team.

The downside to that approach is your workday can stretch far beyond normal work hours.

When I have worked in an office, I have found it is much easier to draw that line between work life and home life because there is that physical act of changing environments. Starting your day on time is important, but so is ending your day on time.

Now, certainly, there are exceptions like when there is a big presentation or deadline coming up, but everyone needs an opportunity to shut off ‘work mode’ to mentally recharge.

Once you have closed down your work computer for the day, avoid the temptation to check just one more email or wrap up one more task. Remember the immortal words of Scarlett O’Hare, who exclaimed, “Tomorrow is another day!”

5. Schedule Breaks and Move

When working from home, it is crucial to develop a routine where you can periodically step away from the keyboard, stretch and move your body.

When I am at work, there are natural opportunities to get a bit more exercise throughout the day. The break room is down the hall and to the right. The restrooms are down the hall. You walk up and down stairs to go to the lunchroom. You may saunter over to a coworker’s desk for a quick conversation. Then it is up a flight of stairs for a meeting.

When you are working from home, you miss many opportunities to move throughout the day. Often your kitchen and restroom are a few steps away. Conference calls are a few clicks away and there are no coworkers encouraging to you come to the break room for a quick round of table tennis.

I am very guilty of spending hours upon hours sitting at a desk attending meeting after meeting or plugging away at an assignment. I am sure you know the feeling. When you finally wrap up, your back is sore, legs do not seem to work and mentally you are exhausted. I have found getting a headset at home allows me to stand up and walk around during a call. I have sometimes had to resort to booking meetings on my calendar simply to take a walk around the block.

6. Get Set for Virtual Meetings

Working remote like means you will frequently be on conference calls. Make sure you test out your equipment ahead of time, familiarize yourself with the software you will be using and ensure there is adequate lighting in your room. It might not hurt to clean up a little behind you if you are participating in a video conference. Check out my post on 14 Tips for an Effective Virtual Meeting for additional thoughts.

7. Virtual Socializing with Colleagues

Staying connected with colleagues is a huge part of long-term career success. When working remotely, it is much harder to get that critical face time with managers and colleagues. Consider organizing informal video conference lunches – where the only topic off-limits is work. After work virtual happy hours are also a great opportunity to let off some steam after a long day while still connecting with your coworkers. One practice I have really enjoyed is scheduling informal 1:1 meetings with colleagues you may not interact with as frequently. Connecting with your co-workers on a personal level is an amazing team-building exercise and something that can really pay dividends for you and your career.

What about you? What are some of your thoughts and ideas on working remote? Send me a line. I would love to chat with you.

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