Let’s face it: Working from home is just plain awesome. No commute saves time and money, there are never any weather delays, there aren’t chatty colleagues or micromanaging bosses patrolling the hallways, and with countless tools and apps, it’s never been easier to stay connected while working remotely. And let’s not even get into how amazing it is to work in sweats.
In fact, a growing number of Americans now work from home on at least a part-time basis – and it’s no surprise. (See also: ‘Working from is just plain awesome.’) So this ‘trend’ shows no signs of slowing.
Working from Home Benefits
Nearly 80 percent of people say they would like to work from home, and studies have shown that most telecommuters and others who work at home are happier and more productive than their office-bound colleagues, according to the Telework Research Network.
Further, productivity can soar for employees who work from home. According to a recent study by the Staples Advantage Workplace Index, 49 percent of millennials say flexibility that establishes a healthy work-life balance would improve their happiness, and 59 percent say more flexibility would improve their productivity. And a Vodafone study reported that 83 percent of respondents reported an improvement in productivity due to flexible working.
How to be Productive at Home
The key to success when it comes to working from home, however, is making sure you establish and then maintain ways to be productive – even when life’s most tempting distractions come calling: domestic chores, kids, pets, and more.
But how do you keep from getting distracted with domestic duties? How do you handle a neighbor who stops by unannounced in the middle of the day? How do you get anything done if you have kids around? How do you say ‘no’ to people who try to take advantage of you being home – like a friend who needs last-minute help with childcare – because they can’t grasp that you actually work despite your domesticated desk?
Here are seven tips for working at home and having a productive work environment:
‘Go’ To Work.
Your home is likely designed as a refuge for maximum comfort and relaxation – which is great for evenings and weekends but less so when it’s time to get down to business. Your body – and rightfully so – associates pajamas and morning TV with vegetative – err, restorative – weekends. So in order to be productive, you’ll need to mentally change gears. Make yourself some coffee or tea, take a shower, and get dressed, even if it’s only athleisure. And if the silence proves deafening, a peer-reviewed study out of the University of Chicago claims that ‘ … a moderate level of ambient noise is conducive to creative cognition.’
Designate Your Space.
Make sure you've designated a space in your home that will serve as your ‘office,’ and ideally, it’s a space that doesn’t also double as an area where you also sleep or spend time with your family. It’s best to keep those areas separate so when it’s time to ‘clock out,’ you can – physically, mentally and emotionally. Here’s a list of 10 Essential Items to Make Your Home Office More Productive.
Communicate. Then Communicate Some More.
Since you can’t exactly drop by your colleagues' desks for quick chats, communication proves critical. Try to individually give your team members a ‘virtual nod’ during the day to check in to keep you connected and to help remind them to ask you about upcoming projects or initiatives. For a list of collaboration tool, check out this post.
Make a conscious effort to minimize distractions during your working hours, such as:
Music: Pick a station or album and then let it play through, resisting the urge to play DJ all day.
Pets: A quick belly scratch is fine, but a cat napping on your keyboard can – SHOCKER!– seriously interfere with your productivity. Keep pets crated or confined to a room – however they would be if you didn’t work from home.
Kids: If old enough, explain to your children about the importance of allowing you quiet, focused time. Otherwise, try to make arrangements for childcare during work hours.
Deliveries & visitors: Don't be shy about declining knocks at your door with a quick explanation of your schedule. A simple, ‘Can we chat another time? I’m on deadline today.' works wonders.
Try to anticipate your needs the way an administrator or manager might if you were onsite. Keep a supply of pens, printer ink, coffee, paper, and whatever else you may need – lighting and a good chair count, too – at-the-ready to avoid the distraction of a drive to the store – or worse, a trip down an Amazon rabbit hole.
Though your kitchen is close, you can't expect to cook yourself a six-course lunch every day or worse, eat random junk food. Surprisingly, it’s often all too easy to forget good nutrition habits when you work from home, so take time on the weekends or evenings to plan healthy meals and snacks. Trust us: Your body and productivity will thank you.
We know: It may seem counterproductive to take breaks in order to be more productive, but research has shown that the most productive workers focus for 52 minutes, and then disengage for 17 minutes, helping your mind reboot and refresh to get back in the saddle.
The key to successfully and productively working from home is to focus more on the ‘work’ part and less on the ‘home’ part of the equation. Just like the uplifting adage, ‘Dance like no one’s watching,’ make sure you ‘Work like no one’s watching’ and git ‘er done! The only thing standing in the way of you dominating working from home is yourself – and maybe (read: DEFINITELY) that temptingly comfy bathrobe from college.
Want a reminder at your desk? Here’s a FREE tip sheet you can download: Tips for a Healthy Home Office.