Planning on working from home? Welcome to the emerging trend of remote workers who work from their home office, and are managing it successfully.
Working from home is not as easy and hunky dory as we might think. From the outside, it might look like one easy ride, but when one gets down to it and experience the number distractions and wastages on time and efforts, you will want to make a quick getaway to your office, the minute you get the chance.
Did I spook you? Hopefully not. Working from home is not so bad either, if properly managed. With the numerous distractions that working from home brings that could hamper productivity, working from home or WFH becomes an art, if handled in the right manner, becomes a masterpiece.
The benefits of working from home spread across individuals, businesses, society, country and the world at large. If not completely, businesses big and small, should allow their employees to work from home, at least two to three days a week – you will have some happy, productive employees working for you.
Some of the innumerable benefits of working from home, in a nutshell, would be:
We can go flexi and adopt a flexible schedule of working. Every person has his/her own productive hours of giving their best work. More use of productive hours v/s unproductive ones
We avoid the traffic and rush that we experience while commuting. This saves quality time which can be put into doing more productive work
We are more energised and enthusiastic to do good work, since one doesn’t get tired or irritated. Increases performance levels
Increased performance levels help individuals, functions and business to do better and achieve more profits
On the personal front, gets to spend more time with family and kids. Achieve greater work-life balance
Increase in productivity due to mental fitness since we get more time for self-healing, meditation, exercise, reading and so on
Easy on the pocket - Less money spent on conveyance, food, travel, shopping
Working from home or working remotely can be hugely rewarding. But it can happen this way only if we are able to keep our productivity up, maintain a water-tight schedule, chart out a healthy ‘work-life’ balance format, and nurture our home and business relationships fruitfully.
If there are benefits to working from home, there are hindrances too. Work from home is not as easy as we think it would be. Some of the challenges one could face are:
Easily lured in by procrastination. We could keep putting off work for another day, till it becomes urgent and important
Numerous distractions like kids needing attention, household work, wanting to watch a movie/serial, and so on that can present themselves and hamper work and productivity
Not easy to manage team remotely – Network issues, distance issues, integrity issues
Space encroachment – with your family all around, one might find it difficult to have that peaceful place to get productive work done
You become your own worst enemy – No peer or boss pressure. no one's watching so no accountability or obligation to get stuff done
Household work distractions – especially for women. Working from home means 24x7 availability to distractions. There’s cleaning to be done, sink is full of dirty utensils, food to be cooked, washing and so on.
How to make Work from Home or Remote Working Productive:
Working from home is great, but it can be problematic if it’s not well managed. Let’s dig into the tips and best practices for working from home.
Identified ‘own work area’ Make a work designated space for yourself in the house. Best case scenario is having your own separate room but in many cases, due to space constraints, that could be a challenge. At least have part of a room with a proper work infrastructure in place – table, chair, laptop, wi fi, stationery, phone, diary and the like. Ensure and make it known around home that no one messes this place and it is out of bounds. Invest in a good desk, chair, and computer so you’ll be comfortable working, but not so comfortable that you’ll be tempted to slack-off.
Identified work timings, create a work routine Set aside long periods of time for work, preferably your peak working hours, since working from home gives you that flexibility. Ensure there are no internal or external interruptions or disturbances in any form or kind. Remember, working from home gives you the flexibility of choosing your work hours, but if you’re constantly interrupted it’s going to be a lot harder to get things done. Block your work timings, in a way that you slot some time in between to do other chores, run errands do your exercises or have a break. Set a schedule, and stick to it, as much as possible. Having clear guidelines will help ensure you do justice to both work and personal duties. Keep a track of your schedule, time to time, so that you know you are not going off-track.
Go for a long walk/exercise Ensure you get sufficient sunlight. Leave the house each day and go for walks/strolls. Being at home the whole day can drive anyone crazy. Energize yourself with sunlight and fresh air. Also get your daily dose of exercise. This will keep your brain and body alert and energetic. It will also take care or your health. Sitting in front of the computer the whole day can do a lot of damage to overall health and well-being. Make an exercise pattern to follow each day. Change it from time to time, so that you add something new to your daily dose of exercise.
Create a To Do List and stick to it A ‘To Do’ list will give you a path for the day. If you have it all in the mind, it is very easy to go off-track, especially when you are working from home. What you write down, you do. Create a to-do list for the tasks you need to accomplish each day. You will not only get most of the things in the list done, you can also track your progress. When you finish a task, tick it off the list. This gives you the motivation to keep finishing task after task.
Minimise distractions, especially during identified work timings Distractions at work could come in various forms. For example, if you are doing some work which requires you to research a topic on the internet. You start browsing for a certain subject, but as you browse many interesting topics come up that has no relevance to your job at hand. You spend time going through various articles, videos, images and slowly you have consumed nearly four times more time browsing through unwanted material. The only way to work around this is, minimize distractions by setting limits online. Don’t fall prey to face book, stories, email forwards, non-work related articles on the net. Allow yourself some time during breaks to check all these before you start your work and on breaks only. When it’s work time, focus only on work and work related aspects.
Say ‘No’ to procrastination. Just do it. As the title says - No Procrastination. It is the biggest enabler of failure. Look at your to-do list, get down and do everything on it. Complete it daily, else whatever is left goes to the next day, which might be more packed. Having too much to do could give you a panic attack, which could trigger procrastination. This will lead to a cycle of constantly pushing things off to another day that is very hard to get out of. Don’t allow procrastination to be a part of your life.
Apart from all these, few more things that could help you set up a successful, work from home infrastructure are as follows:
If you are managing a team, be seen and heard by the team, each day every day.
Schedule team meetings, show up to meetings and be heard
Ensure work deadlines are met, and quality of work doesn’t suffer
Be active and present through video calls and conference calls, for both team members and clients
Have physical team and client meets, every once in a while to build up the rapport and energy
Take off days to re-energize. Motivate your team to do the same
Sharpen the Axe - Look for training and learning opportunities which will help you sharpen your existing skills and learn new skills
Take very good care of yourself. You can do much more for yourself, your family, your team, your company and the society if you are healthy in mind, body and soul
Working from home is all about discipline. Following the above tips, could help you with the right wave length and awareness to create this kind of working routine. What matters most is, to keep a good work-life balance, establish boundaries, and take care of yourself.
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