Originally published November 16, 2017 and revised March 20, 2020.
Today’s workplaces are changing. More companies are making the shift to “modern” office spaces—which means open, collaborative workspaces, flexible work environments, etc.—to better accommodate the needs of their business and their employees.
In fact, flexible work environments are in huge demand today, and many companies are giving their employees the option to set their own hours and work from home when they want to. Not only are millennials a driving force behind remote work, but increasingly busy home lives and social distancing are also playing a part.
For many employees, this is a welcome change! A flexible work environment indicates that your employer trusts you to be successful and is respectful of your time and unique needs. However, for some, it can be a bit daunting! How can you make sure to stay productive during a remote workday? What’s the best way to communicate with others while working from home?
Here are the top ways to set yourself up for success when you’re working from home.
Set up your home environment to match your office environment
It can be tempting to turn your work from home day into a work from bed day. After all, you don’t have to get up early, get dressed, or even leave your house. But be cautious of doing this—not drawing a clear line between your home and your home office can be detrimental to your productivity.
The best way to be successful while working from home is to set up your home workspace to match your office environment. This can mean many things depending on what work you do, but some suggestions include: a clutter-free desk, dual monitors, a laptop stand, your favorite keyboard/mouse combination, a headset for phone calls, and anything else that puts you in “work” mode.
Make sure you are also set up for success when it comes to technology. Often times, remote workers have to access their server through a VPN when they aren’t at the office. Be sure to have a clear understanding of how that functions, and keep your home office in a location where you won’t have connectivity issues.
Set clear goals for what you want to accomplish while at home
Keep yourself accountable and on track while working from home by setting clear goals for what you want to be done while working remotely. Often times, people like to use work from home days to have quiet, heads down time to make progress on deliverables. Whether that’s submitting a report or finishing a presentation deck, write down what you want to be completed by the time you’re done working.
You can even keep yourself on track by booking out calendar appointments with yourself that indicate what you’ll be working on during what parts of your day. Mapping out your workday in this way lets you treat work time like a meeting time, ensuring you stay on track.
Set a communication precedence
It’s important to communicate clearly with your team while working remotely. Try these suggestions to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your schedule:
► Let your team know you’ll be working from home in advance. This is as simple as sending out a calendar invite to your team on the days you’ll be working from home
► Have call forwarding set up on your work phone to go to your cell phone, and make sure your close contacts have a direct line to your cell
► Send your team an instant message or an email that outlines your availability for the day and what projects you’re working on
► Join all meetings by phone call or video, if you can, so communication isn’t disrupted just because you aren’t at the office. This will be especially helpful if you’re social distancing, as it creates human interaction without in-person contact
► Be readily available online and by phone! It’s always better to over-communicate than under-communicate while working remotely
Manage expectations and limit distractions
Working from home doesn’t always mean that you are working alone. Whether you have a family, partner, roommate, or pets, it’s important to clearly communicate what others can expect from you when you’re working from home.
► Limit distractions. Ideally, your home office is someplace that has a door. Stay away from areas like your kitchen or living room when working, which can be distracting, busy environments
► Have a closed-door policy in place. Let housemates know that if your office door is closed, it means you’re working or on a phone call, and can’t be disturbed
► Whether it’s taking care of family or pets, try to keep a consistent schedule for lunch or breaks, so that everyone in your household knows when you’re most available
Being able to work from home can be a great benefit to your schedule and your happiness! By setting goals, managing expectations, and limiting distractions, you’ll be well on your way to a productive, pleasant workplace.
Feel like spending your work from home day on some professional development? Check out our list of 8 Thought Leaders to Inspire Your Career.