Remote workplaces are quickly becoming a disruptive trend across professional industries. With the tools becoming more effective to enable workers to collaborate remotely more and more organizations are viewing ‘work from home’ as not only an acceptable alternative but some organizations are basing their staffing model around it. That being said, there is a significant shift to going from working full time in an office to full time working remotely out of your home. Here are a few tips to quickly adjust and adapt to be a more effective remote worker.
Get into a Routine
Some may read this and think the whole point of working from home is to get away from the monotonous nine-to-five routine. That’s not where I’m going with this. One of the ways to achieve greatness is to maintain consistency in your delivery. One way to help maintain consistency in your delivery is to get into a good routine. When you are commuting to an office daily, you have a morning routine – get up, coffee, shower, dress, drive. When you work from home you can forego a lot of that daily routine (hopefully not the shower part!) but what can happen is that you start your day not mentally prepared to start your day. When I first started working from home full time I found I was struggling trying to get ‘in the game’ early in the day and a colleague offered some very sound advice. He ‘simulated’ a morning commute – before he would start his day, he would take his dog for a walk around the block – this became his morning ‘commute’ where after he came back, his mind was in work mode. And similarly at the end of the day, he would do the same and simulate his commute home by going for another walk and then somewhat tricking his mind into taking him out of work mode. Give it a try – you might be surprised with the results.
Separate Work Space from Home Space
This should go without saying however it’s important that to maintain that mental separation between work and home you need to have a separate workspace that does not also double as a typical ‘home’ space. Working from your couch and coffee table would be a clear example of how not to separate work space from home space. Having a dedicated office where you spend the majority of your work time is a great way to keep that dividing line between work and home. Occasionally to get a break or a change of scenery (not unlike at a regular office) you may want to pick a different spot in your home to work from. Personally if it’s a sunny day I’ll work on my patio table under the umbrella to get some vitamin D. This should always be the exception and not the norm. Not counting the productivity loss of working from a less-than-professional space, your mind will not be totally in the game if you’re in a spot that your body commonly associates with relaxation time.
When I first started working from home one of the first things my boss said to me was that one of the biggest challenges is trying to physically remove yourself from your desk and forcing yourself to take breaks. When we work in an office with other physical people, we are commonly interrupted for a variety of reasons – social chat, side conversations on projects, etc. This forces us to take micro-breaks from what we are doing. While this may seem like a big annoyance that we get rid of when we work remotely it’s important to remember to keep taking these small breaks to give your mind and body a quick jolt for a few minutes and refresh. Working remotely it’s easy to spend hours on end firmly planted in your chair with no breaks. This is not a healthy approach and you need to be mindful of ensuring that you are taking small breaks constantly.
Working from home is a trend that is here to stay and is picking up steam every day. The impact for those of us who are traditionally used to working in an office is greater than for those who have worked from home their whole careers and these three tips will help you quickly adjust and become a powerful and productive remotely-based worker.