The opportunity to work from home carries many benefits. However, it also comes with its share of disadvantages. Many dream of working from the comfort of their own home, but they often don’t consider the challenges that come with this dream. Without the proper diligence, determination, and workspace, you may find that your eight-hour workday only produced half the work you would have accomplished at the office. It can be easy to get distracted anywhere, but when you work from home, those distractions can gobble up half of your workday.
While there are a number of benefits to working at home, there are just as many challenges. You will, undoubtedly, be met with a large number of distractions, especially if other family members are present in the home during your working hours. Some other challenges those working from home face include:
Isolation: If you work from home, you may soon discover you miss the interaction with co-workers.
Health: Working in the same place you live can often create a feeling of always being at work. In turn, you may find yourself overcompensating or working more than you usually would. This stress can eventually take a toll on your overall health.
Productivity: It can be easy to let distractions at home cut into your workday, resulting in lower productivity. If you are in a supervisor position, you may find that team members tend to slack off and relax their productivity when you are not around to supervise.
Promotion: Since you are not around at the office, people may forget about you and overlook you for promotions or projects.
Some people are ready to face these challenges and meet them head-on. Others may discover that working from home isn’t all it’s chalked up to be. If you decide working from home is for you, it is essential that you create the proper work environment and mindset for the job.
A comfortable and productive work area is essential to successfully working from home and getting things done. When setting up your home office, follow these three steps:
Dedicate an area to work. Create a space that is comfortable to be in and has the feel of an actual workplace office. By dedicating this area to work only, you will help eliminate some of the distractions and temptations that come with working from home. It will also help lessen that always-at-work feeling.
Invest in an ergonomic office chair. A comfortable office chair is the most important thing to have in your home office. If your chair is uncomfortable, you will find countless reasons to get up and go elsewhere in the house, thus contributing to a lack of productivity.
Make sure the door shuts. If others are in the home with you during working hours, it is essential you have a way to block out their noise and close the door on them. You may even want to invest in a lock if the door isn’t already equipped with one.
Your home office should be organized. An organized office leads to higher productivity. Make sure your desk is large enough and leaves you plenty of room to work. Additionally, you should ensure that everything you need to work is located in an easy-to-reach area. This will help eliminate the need to get up and down from your desk throughout the day. It will also help reduce stress and frustration so you can focus on work.
Once everything is in place, and you have a proper desk and chair, organize your projects and tasks in a clearly defined structure. One way to accomplish this is to make a to-do list at the start of your day. Try to follow the list as closely as possible. Set deadlines for each task and dedicate yourself to accomplishing a certain amount of productivity each day.
At the end of each workday, tidy up your desk and clear it off. This way, you will have a nice clean desk to greet you the next day. It can also help create a sense of finality to the workday, so you don’t have that ever-present project looming over you even after you have quit working for the day. Cleaning off your desk is especially important if you don’t have a dedicated work area where you can shut the door at the end of the day and leave work.
We already covered creating a to-do list for your work tasks and projects, but there are some other tips to follow concerning time management of your work day if you want to stay on top of your workload and remain productive.
Create a routine. Humans are creatures of habit; thus, it is essential that you create a routine schedule for your workday. Start and stop at the same time each day and take breaks at scheduled intervals. This routine will help develop a sense of normalcy to your workday and result in higher productivity.
Keep a time sheet. Make sure to write down your start and stop times for each task or project, including breaks. Keeping proper track of the time spent on each task will help you evaluate when you are at your most productive and allow your managers to see how your time is spent.
Schedule in-between tasks. If you must leave your work area to throw a load of laundry in the washer or take the dog out, make sure to allow a time-slot for that task on your to-do list you create at the start of the day. Being able to do those small at-home tasks throughout the workday is one of the benefits to working at home, but they can quickly add up and decrease your productivity if you don’t schedule them into your day.
Finally, if you have decided to reap the benefits and tackle the challenges of working from home, make sure to balance your work and home life accordingly. It can become very easy to shut yourself off from your colleagues, get caught up in at-home tasks, or even over-compensate for not being in the office by putting more hours into the day. Before you know it, your work life and home life have become one, and you start feeling like you are at work all day long, every day. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open with your colleagues so that you are all on the same page. Additionally, keep track of your goals and accomplishments each day and have a clear shut-off time to stop working. Enjoy your new work-from-home lifestyle, but be careful your work life doesn’t become your home life.
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