The days are gone that those who work from home are seen as slackers. Telecommuting is now seen as a norm. It is a norm that is growing immensely. Between 2005 and 2012, telecommuting in the US increased by 80%. A study done by Stanford University found that employees who work from home have 13% higher productivity than those who work in the office. There are obvious benefits that working at home provides, like flexibility and comfort. But there are also obvious challenges telecommuters are going to face. We have compiled some tips to help increase your efficiency while you work from home.
We know it can be tempting to roll out of bed in your pajamas and open up your computer, and while comfy, this doesn’t get your mind in the right space for work. Even though you’re working from home it’s important to set up a work routine just as if you were to be heading into the office. Wake up early, get your coffee, get dressed. Getting dressed is key. What if your boss calls for an impromptu video conference? You don’t want to be caught in your sweats! Being in “real” clothes gets you in the frame of mind that it’s ready for your day to start and helps productivity. You don’t have to wear business professional clothes at home, but no pajamas. A good rule of thumb is, if you would have to change clothes to run errands or leave your home, it’s probably not appropriate.
We know working from home can tempt you with TONS of distractions. There may be a midday TV show you love, or a movie you want to catch, or someone knocks at the door, or your bed and/or couch are extra comfy one day (when are they not?). For all of these reasons, and more, it’s important to claim a space that is specifically for work. When you’re in the space it is work time and during the work day it is time to dedicate your time to work. Make sure friends, relatives, and anyone you may live with knows this as well. It may be hard for them to understand that even though you are at home, you are working and that time needs to be respected.
- Set a Regular Schedule
This goes hand-in-hand with setting your routine, but it is important to set a schedule for yourself each day. Having a schedule for each day may seem excessive, but this has been proven to keep people on top of their work. While your work day, of course, needs to be primarily work, remember to take time for yourself. Schedule regular breaks into your day, and even go as far as to set an alarm to make sure you take them. Researchers at a social media company found that their most productive employees worked intently for around 52 minutes then took a 17 minute break. Also make sure to take a break for lunch. Since your personal life and work life are mixing in the same place, it’s important to stop your work when the work day is over. It can be tempting to work longer to finish the project you’re on, but there are arguments that saying stopping the day in the middle of a project boosts productivity for the next day because you know exactly where you’re going. Either way, make sure you leave your home office just as you would any other office at the end of the day.
Many people who work from home have a work computer. If you are one of these people make sure all of your other devices (your personal computer, tablets, etc.) are put away. You do not need them during the work day. The same can be said for a personal cell phone. We know it’s hard to separate yourself from your cell phone, and many people use their personal cell’s as their work phones too. If this is the case for you, make sure you limit and texts, and calls to work related matters except during breaks.
Do you work from home? What is your best tip for others who are trying to be more efficient while telecommuting?