My previous employer did not support working from home at all. Moving to SAP was then a huge change! Suddenly I had the flexibility to choose when I worked from home or which office I worked from. But how do you ensure that when you home and your workplace are one and the same, that you keep the lines from blurring?
I reached out to colleagues to find out their advice on how to nail working from home so that I could share these key themes with other people that may also be new to ‘telecommuting’.
Working from home should not mean that you are logged on 24/7. Set boundaries and breaks. It’s important for both your health and productivity to schedule breaks and take opportunities to focus away from a screen, and to eat proper meals. Having a set routine helps to keep work and home separate. Log off at the end of the day and walk away. You will be much more productive if you set yourself scheduled blocks of time.
Set Aside Space
It can be tempting to work from the sofa and spread work out in multiple places, but setting aside a designated work station focuses the mind and ensures less work-related clutter. Having a set place of work makes walking away at the end of the day a physical act which helps the mental act of logging off.
By getting up in the morning and keeping to a similar routine as you would in an office (ie getting dressed) you are mentally preparing for the day ahead. No one will judge you in a home office for wearing your pyjamas to work, but if you feel prepared for the day ahead, you will be more mentally present in your working day.
Another great way to prepare mentally for the day ahead is to incorporate exercise or movement in to your routine. Exercising before work is a great way of doing this – even if it’s just a walk around the block to simulate ‘going to work’.
Shut Out Distractions
In a similar way to scheduling work and setting a routine is shutting out the distractions of the home. Tidying up, putting washing in the machine and other household chores may seem like quick tasks that can be done ad hoc throughout the day as your ‘breaks’ but by using household chores as a rest from work does not allow for an efficient work-life balance.
Speak to People
Do not allow yourself to become shut away from the world just because you do not share your working space with anyone else. Human beings are social creatures and it’s easy to feel isolated in a home working environment. Go out during a break and get coffee, arrange a lunch with a colleague who’s nearby, speak to people on the phone or in an online meeting room or find other ways to reach out.
It’s easy to work longer hours from home than you would in an office and let work seep in to weekends. Discipline, routine and boundaries are important to ensure this does not happen. It’s important to have down time to mentally and physically repair. No one will thank you for getting burned out by working all hours, so look after yourself and you’ll be your most productive self when you are logged on.
I hope you find some of these useful.