How to Be Productive Working From Home

Part one of a three part series on The Mobile Workforce.

Who wouldn’t want to work from the comfort of their own home? You get to skip the daily wardrobe battles and bad hair days. Commutes transform from being locked up in a car for hours a day to walking from your bedroom to the kitchen to start your pot of coffee. And since it’s your home, you can pick the type of coffee you want to drink, the food you want to eat, and avoid the extra expense (and calories) of eating out every day. And experts agree – working from home typically results in greater productivity, lower costs, and happier employees.

But working from home, like so many benefits in life, comes with it’s challenges as well. One of the key ones, is finding a way to stay motivated and productive.  With a little planning and thought you can turn your home into a productive work environment where you can stay motivated, focused, and efficient. If you have the opportunity, working from home can be lead to more productivity while allowing balance in your life with family, exercise, and work.

Work Environment

It’s important to put your home office in a place that will be distraction-free. A common distraction in the home is television. Most US households have more than one television so while it might be hard to find a room without a TV, it’s important not to let it distract you. Between commercials and talk-shows, TV is designed to draw your attention, so do your best to remove the temptation. The good news is, if you like music while you work, you don’t have to worry about co-workers not liking your tastes!

Ergonomics

Ergonomics at home is just as important as it is at the workplace. While it might be tempting to recline in your lazy boy sofa or bed with your laptop in your lap, health experts say that proper ergonomics has a significant impact on your productivity and well being.  Finding the right desk, chair, and lighting will ensure you can stay focused without creating health problems for yourself down the road. Most companies that support working from home will also provide you with some basics to get you started – so don’t be shy about asking. Here are some resources to help guide you in the process. Once you have an ergonomic environment setup, you’ll want to stay vigilant about getting up periodically and moving around to make sure you hit your stand goal. Products like Fitbit, Apple Watch, and various mobile apps can help greatly with this.

Family Boundaries

One of the hardest aspects of managing working from home is ensuring family members who are at home during the workday understand that you are actually “at work”. This is usually something that you need to explicitly define so everyone in the household  understands that you should not be disturbed while you are working. Similarly, it’s important to avoid the temptation to get involved in activity in the home since this will both confuse the members of the household on the boundaries and distract you in the process. The flip side of this is that you when you take breaks during your work day, you can say hello to family members, have meals with them and enjoy more time with them than you would otherwise get.

Stay Connected

Critics of working from home often argue that employees who work from home are disconnected from the rest of the office, leading to poor communication, and poor employee interactivity. While there are arguments on both sides of this issue, it’s clear that you can take an active role to minimize these effects. One excellent way to do this is to encourage other employees to keep an open line to your office at all times. Thankfully this is very easy to do in today’s workplace with apps like Slack,FaceTime, Skype, and Google Hangout. Staying connected and encouraging interactivity will keep you keep the dialogue and build confidence with your co-workers. Technology can certainly help bridge the physical divide between the office and your home, but in the end, it’s also important to find time during the week to meet face to face with other employees, if possible. If all the employees work from home, then try to arrange a day of the week where you work together from coffee shops or one of the home offices so you can spend time working alongside your co-workers. If this is not possible then video calls are especially important to keep everyone connected. Don’t just rely on email, you will be amazed at how much can get accomplished with just a short phone call.

My Experience

I am a work-from-home mother-of-two, so this topic is especially close to home (pun fully intended) for me. Here are a few tips you won’t get from the experts that have helped me along my way:

  • Don’t feel like you have to constantly clean the house – spend time wisely. This is my biggest obstacle!
  • Make an effort to attend networking events where you know there will be people who are enthusiastic about you and your business. Attend Meetup events of similar interests. I try to attend two a week.
  • Eat chocolate.
  • Exercise. I try to exercise at the gym at least three times a week. Working from home means I can go during off hours at the gym and avoid the lines!

 

Further Reading

Want to learn more about working from home? Here are some great articles for you to read:

Huffington Post

Computer World

Remote Co.

Global Workplace Analytics

 

Share your working from home tips by tweeting @StarterNoise using #workfromhometip. We’ll retweet you!