If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that working from home isn’t going anywhere. While many people were eager to get back to the office, the benefits of working from home seem too great to ignore for many companies (and employees).
If you’re working remotely, you can probably compile an extensive list of pros and cons of your work environment. In order to strike a balance between working at home and being productive, we’re here to offer you some tips for every area of your professional life.
We asked one of our executive coaches and Arootah consultant Kevin Reed to share some expert tips on working from home. So, if you’re ready to be more balanced and productive, read on!
A Few of the Benefits of Working from Home
The perks of working from home—or as it’s commonly referred to, WFH—extend far beyond the opportunity to stay in your sweatpants all day. Reed lists some of the biggest benefits as:
- Flexibility with home life: Working from home allows you to maintain much more flexibility, from your to-do list to running errands. It’s easy to start prepping a meal or clean up around the house when you’re already home.
- Convenience: You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who misses their commute to and from the office. You don’t have to worry about transportation, traffic, or weather preventing you from clocking in. Plus, the time previously spent commuting means you have more time for yourself or being with family.
- Cost-effective: With gas prices hovering higher than ever, it’s no wonder many people want to ditch driving to work. You can also save money by not going out for lunch or skipping the Starbucks drive-through on your way to work.
- Avoiding distractions from co-workers: It’s often easier to avoid a noisy office or chatty coworkers when you’re working at home. This could lead to greater productivity and focus.
A Few of the Downfalls of Working from Home
Of course, working from home isn’t a perfect solution for everyone. Reed notes some of the following downfalls of WFH:
- Lack of structure: When your home and work life happen right next to each other, it can be hard to tell when your workday begins and ends. WFH can blur the boundaries between home and the office.
- Distractions at home: Kids, pets, roommates, and chores around the house can easily distract you during the time you’re supposed to be working.
- Professionalism can suffer: No one can blame you for staying in your sweatpants for that 8 a.m. Zoom call, but some may seek more professionalism in their WFH attire. For some, this can lead to poorer performance and self-doubt on ability, says Reed.
- Less self-satisfaction: For those who equate their worth with the experience of work, working from home can sometimes result in reduced self-satisfaction, adds Reed.
WFH: Tips for Productivity
Working from home could be a great opportunity to master your productivity skills. Reed offers these helpful tips to enhance your daily output:
- Set a routine for when you start and stop the day. “Include time for breaks and lunch,” says Reed. “Remember, no one else will honor your boundaries if you don’t honor them first.”
- Turn off your email and any work-related communication when on breaks or when the day ends. “If you can’t answer the phone in the office or reply to an email because you aren’t physically there, use the same concept in your WFH environment,” advises Reed.
- Explain the routine and schedule to your family/household. “There needs to be a level of buy-in from everyone, so boundaries aren’t violated,” says Reed. “Set up what constitutes an ‘emergency’ and what does not.”
- Break up your day with movement or change of scenery. If you were at the physical office, you wouldn’t work from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave. Try to text a friend, chat with a neighbor, or walk the dog briefly to break up the monotony, adds Reed.
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WFH: Tips for your Home Office
Having a great home office setup is part of a successful work-from-home arrangement. Here’s how to set your office up for success:
- Make sure your space is quiet. Some natural light in a well-lit environment is great, notes Reed.
- Have a comfortable and supportive chair. You may want to consider getting a standing desk for an even more ergonomic setup.
- Set yourself up with solid internet and strong connections for your tech.
- Keep your virtual meeting background clean and professional. Blur or fake a background if this isn’t an option for you.
- Maintain a dedicated work area—an extra bedroom, basement, or office—this is your sanctuary. “Work happens when you are here and nothing else,” suggests Reed. “Experts explain that the bedroom should be used for sleep and sleep only; the same concept holds true for your work area. It’s not the Lego room, it’s not for TV, it’s for work.”
WFH: Tips for Teammate Interactions
If you consider yourself more of an extrovert, working from home may provide an added layer of disappointment: lack of in-person interaction. Although you may not be literally shoulder-to-shoulder with your colleagues, you can still maintain a thriving relationship using these tips:
- Try to set aside time in meetings or dedicated times to connect at a human level and not simply work obligations. “Just as small talk has a place in the office, the same can be accomplished at home, just through different mediums,” notes Reed.
- Remember to consider the feelings of others around burnout and struggles with boundaries. Acknowledge and talk about it if you see it or feel it.
- Consider remote team-building activities if you can’t meet with your team in-person for the occasional lunch or game night. Schedule these events consistently to keep rapport strong.
WFH: Tips for Self-Care
The mental health aspect of working remotely is so important. While it’s normal to feel stressed about work from time to time, if it starts becoming a major disruption in your life, talk to a health professional. Reed also recommends splitting up your day.
- Break up the day. “Lines can become so blurred with responsibilities at both home and work but try to maintain structure and be where your feet are,” says Reed. “When you are working, you’re at work. When not working, you’re home. Part of that requires you to take breaks. It’s okay. Go for a walk. Go outside. Change the physical location where you are when you can.”
Reed adds, “If you’re on a phone call, get a headset and go to a different room if it helps you reset, and if you are able. The day in an office isn’t usually filled with sitting and working for eight straight hours, so don’t feel compelled or guilty to do the same here.”
The Bottom Line
Having a strategic and healthy approach to working from home can help you experience all the benefits of a better work-life balance.
Although much of the workforce has been converted to a remote or hybrid model, it’s important to understand that WFH is still fairly new. You have plenty of time to try new things, set boundaries, and figure out what works for you. Keep an open dialogue with your employer about this as you’ll both benefit from a healthy work environment in the long run.
Some outside guidance can be helpful, too. If you’re looking for support to set boundaries and reprioritize your goals, you can always pick our experts’ brains by scheduling a session with an Arootah Career Coach.
Do you have any WFH hacks? Share them in the comments!