Sharing the wealth: when working from home isn’t new
In 2013, shortly after my husband and I got married, we moved from Tennessee to Louisiana so he could pursue a new job opportunity. I vividly remember calling my boss to resign, and she said “You’ll have your phone and the internet, right? Would you want to work remotely?” It was one of the easiest “yes” answers I’ve ever given, and it has been successful for me and for my agency.
Now that so many other people are working from home, I’m seeing social media manifestos about how difficult it can be. The transition can be tough, but I hope these best practices I’ve learned can help shorten that for you!
- Be consistent.
First, designate a workspace. Even if you don’t have a room to close off or an actual desk, try to work in the same place every day – even a spot at your kitchen table. If it’s a space you need later for a different purpose, consider packing everything up in a work box or bag. That way, when it’s out, you’re mentally “at work.” When it’s packed, you’re mentally home.
Second, get dressed. There’s no need to wear a full suit, but don’t stay in your pajamas. That small act of “getting ready to go” helps flip a switch for me.
- Embrace efficiencies where they’re available.
It may be tempting to try to do laundry or other household chores because you’re there. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you’re not giving your best to your job or to your household. To avoid that temptation, keep in mind that working from home provides other efficiencies. For example, you don’t need to commute to the office, and meetings are more likely happening over the phone, eliminating that travel time, too. You may also not go out for lunch, so you can use that time to toss a meal in the crockpot if you want to. There is time for work and the house, just not all at once.
- Maintain some separation.
One major challenge of working at home is being able to turn it off at the end of the day. So establish some boundaries. I close up my desk at the end of the day, and I try not to open it when I’m not working. My clients and co-workers know they can text me if they have an urgent need, but separation is crucial when you live where you work. It may help you to:
- Set your working hours (even if they’re a little different because your kids are home, for example).
- Pack up your computer at the end of the day.
- Establish a to-do list every day so – even if your schedule goes crazy – you’ll know you got something done.
- Set a calendar reminder to check your emails at a certain time (and only once or twice) after hours so you aren’t constantly on your phone or computer for every little thing.
- Stay in touch.
You may have seen the meme going around to “check on your extroverted friends because we’re not OK.” It’s the truest statement. I’m handling the isolation worse than my husband and kids because I thrive on social interaction. And it seems strange, but working remotely has not been a huge problem for me.
My co-workers do a great job of staying in touch via Google Hangouts Chat. I’m included on office-wide emails even if they don’t actually pertain to me (like “supply run at noon, send me what you need!”). When others may walk to a desk to check out something on a co-worker’s screen, I’ll just do a Google screenshare. I never feel out of the loop, and it’s even MORE crucial now that everyone is separate. So use your tech to your advantage.
The longer you do it, the more natural working from home seems. But for everyone’s sake, please don’t go on a Netflix binge during working hours. It sure does slow down the internet for the rest of us ;).