Tips for Staying Productive While Working From Home
It’s 5:15 a.m. and my alarm begins its obnoxious yell—TIME TO GET UP! After hitting snooze (miraculously only once), I begrudgingly roll out of bed. After changing into clothes that are comfortable, but I’d still go out to lunch in, I pour myself a cup of freshly brewed coffee—when I remember to set up auto-brew the night before—walk down the hall into the office and turn on my computer. Fifteen minutes after waking up and I’m at the office. Not a bad commute.
While I am fully remote, JPA recently implemented a policy allowing all staff to work from home a couple of days each month, with the exact number depending on seniority. Workplaces with policies like this lead the wave of this changing tide of how we work. These employers are starting to recognize that for many careers, you don’t have to be physically present to be mentally present. In fact, studies have shown people are more productive when working from home.
Remote employees do work longer hours (with no rush hour to beat, I find myself getting sucked into the “just one more email” habit) but are, on average, happier. Research found the flexibility to work from home resulted in 22% happier employees. Happier employees do better work.
However, remote work still comes with its challenges. I no longer get the “water cooler” conversations with colleagues and my dogs don’t seem to appreciate my jokes as much as my coworkers might. And those longer hours can still bleed into the work-life balance for which I strive.
With the holidays approaching, many of us will be trading in a day at the office with a day at the home office…or Grandma’s guest room desk (surrounded by no fewer than like 25 pictures of you as a kid, of course). To help make the most of this set up, I’ve compiled a few tips for a successful WFH experience, whether this is your full-time gig or only for a few days:
- As much as you’re able, set up a dedicated workspace, with as many monitors as you need (I have 3!) and trust me on this one… a GOOD chair.
- Tell loved ones of your dedicated hours for work, so they don’t try to distract you (Aunt Karen can show you the shaky home video she took of her neighbor’s friend’s nephew’s T ball game after work)
- Find an opportunity to get out of the house to reset your day—much like the mental reset a daily commute affords—whether it’s picking up a latte (I’m team Americano) at your favorite neighborhood coffee shop, taking a quick trip to fill up on gas or scheduling a dedicated walk with your dogs
- We’re many years beyond the fuzzy, low quality video conferencing, so take advantage of technology and utilize video calls to reap the benefits of body language, especially when meeting new team members or clients for the first time
- Along the same lines, stay connected to your colleagues by picking up the phone and using messaging programs like Skype for Business to stay in touch
- While you don’t need to put on a suit to walk down the hall to your desk, dress in clothes you could respectably leave the house in. Sweatpants can be too casual, which can translate to a less focused mental state when you really need to be in “work mode.”
- Prioritize your mental and physical wellness. Working from home can be isolating (especially in the winter months), so make a conscious effort to take care of yourself – eat healthy, establish a fitness routine (bonus points: find a gym that offers regular classes where you can meet people) and schedule time with friends and family
As you figure out what works for you, hopefully you will find you enjoy and look forward to the days you work from home. Let us know how it goes!