With much of the office workforce currently being relegated to a working-from-home arrangement, many first-time remote workers are finding new challenges in their familiar environments. Changes and challenges, however, needn’t carry a negative connotation – there’s plenty to love about your new office. As someone who has nearly 20 years of home-office experience, I can assure you the perks are worth every little challenge the change presents.
- Find your schedule – Waking and working in the same space can present the question, “When do I start?” Depending on your internal clock, you may find you begin to adjust to getting work done in the early hours while it’s peaceful and quiet in the household. Others may find their productivity stays its highest when they ‘clock in’ at the usual time. Develop something that works for you, your new workspace and your household.
- Get into productivity mode – With the time you’ll be saving from the lack of a commute, do something that gets your gears moving, blood pumping and cylinders firing. For some, this may be an early shower, yoga or deep breathing. For others, it may be lots of coffee, morning radio and a hearty breakfast. Whatever it is that helps you personally zero-in – recognize and practice it. Make the time to put yourself into a productive working mindset.
- Create a work habitat – Finding a space to focus on work can be the most pronounced challenge of your new home office. Create functional space inside of your new office — don’t shy away from things like whiteboards, to-do lists or little desk ornaments. You will be working in this space for a large part of the day, so make it comfortable. Be sure to keep your camera’s viewfinder angle in mind when decorating your space. Keep it professional if you will be videoconferencing.
- Avoid social media – Unless you’re required to use social media for work, avoid the temptation of accessing the endless scroll while you’re “on the clock.” We all need to stay socializing during these tough times, but social media can really sap productivity during home-work hours.
- Control input flow – Sensory overload is a very serious detriment to productivity. You should assess your capacity for stimuli and how they affect your workflow. Ask yourself, do you actually work well with music? Does hearing lyrics break your focus? Do you prefer a well-lit environment or dim one? Do you get anxious when receiving popup notifications? Optimize sensory inputs to keep your cylinders firing and brain focused.
- Take a break – It can be easy to lose track of time when working from a properly isolated and productive workspace, so be sure to take breaks. Appreciate the closeness of loved ones, pets and the comforts of your own home. Get some sun in the yard or have lunch in your favorite space. Let go of “productivity mode” when you’re on break, so your mind has a chance to unwind too.
Studies have shown an increase in productivity when working from home, specifically when operating within a proper workspace. So, while it may be impossible to tell what the future holds, remote work could potentially become the new standard. I’ve found that working from home provides a much better work/life balance, a greater sense of purpose and the luxury of more free time. Regardless of its permanence, you may as well begin perfecting your home-office habitat and habits – so give these pointers a try to help you stay productive!