With recent advances in technology, more Americans are working at home than ever before. A recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that more than one million employees work out of their homes in a given workday.
Are you one of the many with the option to work from home?
If so, you may want to make a few adjustments. While the benefits of working from home — avoiding a commute or saving on childcare costs, to name a few — are immediately apparent, it can be a challenge to work from home and still get the job done.
Here’s how to manage the transition:
Treat working from home like a normal workday
If you’re working from home, it’s critical to create a mental transition so that you feel like your working time is truly spent “at work.”
- Commit to a morning routine. Wake up early, have breakfast and go through a daily set of rituals. Time you spend getting “ready” will leave you in a more productive mindset than rolling out of bed and into the office chair.
- Dress for work. Not only will dressing up put you in a productive mindset, it’ll also ensure that you look sharp for any impromptu video calls.
- Make a to-do list. Grouping similar tasks together is a great way to stay productive, and keeping yourself accountable can help you stay in work-mode.
- Set a schedule. 9 to 5 might not be for you, but setting a schedule will help you avoid working 9 to infinity.
Create a motivating work environment
Offices and workplaces are designed with productivity in mind, so it makes sense that you’ll be more productive if you pay attention to the ways your environment helps you succeed.
- Dedicate an area to work. Get a comfortable chair, decorate with plants and photographs, arrange for proper lighting and keep your space clean and well organized. Every time you step into this area, you’ll feel ready to work.
- Stock office supplies. Make sure you have notepads, pens, staples and other office supplies handy so you don’t waste time searching for them when you need them.
- Set up access to work documents. Get familiar with file-sharing systems and services to ensure you’ll have access to everything, and back up your work.
- Try a little background noise. Silence isn’t always productive. Some people swear by having the History Channel on at low volume. Others use the radio, nature noise-making apps or instrumental music. Experiment and see what’s best for you.
Life is full of distractions, and without the physical presence of coworkers or supervisors, distractions have a tendency to become temptations.
- Share your work schedule. The people in your life won’t always understand that you’re “at work” when you’re working from home. Set boundaries and let everyone know that your designated area is for work.
- Avoid social media. Eliminate the temptation by simply staying off social media channels and turning off notifications on your phone.
- Treat your phone like a phone. Consider switching your phone to silent or airplane mode, and keeping it out of arm’s reach.
Stay connected and accessible
Your team is counting on you to be available, and your supervisor will want to make sure your work-from-home situation isn’t detrimental to anyone else’s work.
- Be responsive to messages. Regardless of where you work, balancing emails and messages with other work can be a challenge. Replying promptly lets everyone know that you’re present.
- Protect valuable company data. Be mindful of what you might have up on your computer screen when friends visit, or the papers you may be recycling at day’s end. Protecting your company’s data is important to not only your job but the trust they have in you by allowing you to work from home.
- Monitor communication. If your company uses messaging software like Google Hangouts or Slack, make an effort to chime in on group messages. Get in the habit of setting your “status” message so that people know when you’re available and when you’re not.
- Keep an eye on your calendar. Make sure your calendar program of choice is updated and sending out alerts, and keep a clock visible from where you’re working.
- Check in. Go the extra mile to connect with peers throughout the day. Even the briefest hello can help you feel more like a team member.
Take breaks and transition out of work
Just as work-life balance is important to maintain in the workplace, it can be doubly important for work-at-home professionals.
- Take breaks from your workspace. Stepping away for a few minutes or having your lunch in a different room offers a mental break that can help you refocus on upcoming tasks.
- Leave the house at the end of your workday. Staying inside all day (or all week) is unhealthy for anyone. Even if just for a half hour, stepping out can help you help you transition from a work mindset to a home mindset.
- Make time to connect with your peers. Visiting the workplace at least once a month to connect face-to-face can help remind you that you’re still part of a team. If this isn’t possible, try attending networking events to interact with professionals in your area.
If working from home appeals to you, there are plenty of opportunities available, and Aerotek recruiters can help get you on the right track. Reach out today.
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