Do you dream of working from home? Or at least having more home office days? Then you're not alone.Forbes magazine states that “An estimated three million American professionals never step foot in an office outside of their own home and another 54% say they are happier that way.”
Some of the common reasons that people choose as opt to work in a home office environment include:
- “If I could work from home, I wouldn’t have so many interruptions.”
- “If I could work from home, I could focus better on my work.”
- “If I could work from home, I could avoid a lengthy commute."
- “If I could work from home, I could save money and have less expense for lunches and gas for my car.”
In truth, the list could go on and on, and these are often valid desires to working from home versus in a shared office space. And whilst it’s true working from a home office can be a blessing by offering you a lot more flexibility in your daily work schedule, there are the naysayers. These people caution that working from home can really cut into both personal and collective productivity:
- “There are too many distraction when working from home. You’ll be doing laundry when you should be at your desk.”
- “It takes a lot of discipline to work from home, and it will be easy to sleep in and knock off early.”
- "You’ll miss the social aspects of an office.”
- “You can’t work as effectively with colleagues when you're at home alone. True collaboration and team work needs to happen face to face.”
However, while such statements appear to be perfectly valid counter arguments, and we are wise to consider them, the truth is, moving to a home office environment can combine all of the benefits stated above, and we can incorporate specific practices and technologies to avoid potential pitfalls.
The fact is, for professionals today, both work culture and technology have evolved to the point where traditional concepts of "the office" are being left behind. Where we work is less important than how we work. With the brightest and best talent, give them the right tools to succeed - then trust they will get the job done.
Of course, an organization should have a clearly defined work from policy for everyone to follow, but for each individual it's great to understand how you can set yourself up for success with a well-designed routine for your home office. So below are five pointers to get you fast-tracked to home-grown success!
1 . Create a separate work area in your home that will serve as your office.
This is crucial! Plopped down in a chair in the living room may sound like an ideal working-from-home environment (and it sure does sound comfortable!), but it can absolutely lead to poor habits and vast distractions from the work you are intended to do. Set aside a place (ideally with a closing door) that affords you the ability to separate yourself from distractions, and make sure that others are aware that this is a sacred space for your work. The aim is that when you physically step inside your home office, mentally you step into a world or of work; you're establishing a good routine
Related: Develop a Great Work From Home Policy
2. Give yourself some specific guidelines for when you are working and when you are not.
As well, it will be important to have specific goals that are measurable to make good use of this new environment. There is often less praise in an independent work environment versus shared office space, and you will need to both hold yourself accountable to goals and know when you have accomplished them to reward yourself. Being clear in your own mind on what you've achieved and where you need to improve will also help maintain effective dialogue with your manager.
3. Choose the right technologies to build an ideal remote work environment for your home office.
Some technologies provide presence (green light), or the ability to see if coworkers are online for quick access. This can inform your ability to reach coworkers quickly (We’ll call that sticking your head in the door). Other technologies allow you to have face-to-face interactions with your coworkers. We get a lot from seeing each other in conversation that is missing in emails, texts, and even phone calls. We benefit from seeing facial expressions (We’ll call that sitting down in each others’ offices and meeting). Related to video engagement, it is imperative that alongside the ability to easily plan and join scheduled meetings using videoconferencing technology at home, we should have the ability to make video calls to each other in an ad hoc manner just like we use the phone (We’ll call that an open door policy).
4. Always have a long-term project at hand at all times.
There will be times that direct engagement will be slow, and long-term projects allow us to remain productive and focused in our work without succumbing to local distractions. Barking dogs and Fedex deliveries and full dishwashers and clothes dryer buzzers will always create opportunities for distraction from our primary focus. Maintaining long-term projects (Maybe have several in the queue) that contribute to our work success gives us the opportunity to fill engagement gaps with productive and fulfilling work.
5. And finally...
It's important to be able to collaborate with coworkers when you are working in a remote capacity. The above technology tools will go a long way to remaining engaged and productive. In the early stages of home-based work, it can be difficult to make the leap and best understand how best to be productive. Stay engaged! Stay relevant and contributory. Make sure your teammates know that you are there to create an even greater impact in your new work environment.
You chose to move to a home work environment for reasons that pertain to your specific life needs. Now that you are here, it is time to show everyone why this made sense and how you are thriving in your new reality. Hop on a video call. Hop on several! Share your content. Invite others to contribute to what you are doing, and meet in teams to collaborate and create together!