Working from home comes with its own unique challenges. Your home is usually set up to be the place where you escape your professional life to relax and enjoy your home life.
So what happens when you need to incorporate your professional life into your personal life?
You might feel especially nervous if you worked in an office and are used to having a certain setup and routine.
But don’t feel too daunted about figuring out how to work from home. There are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to make your home office just as productive as your work in an office building.
You don’t need an office building to set up your own designated workspace at home. What’s nice about a home office too is that you can enjoy more natural light, get more fresh air into the room, and avoid glare headaches from fluorescent lights.
You can also decorate and situate your private home office however you like if you have a remote job.
A home office for your remote job can also be anywhere in the house you want. If you don’t have a spare room to dedicate as a home office, you can pick a spot on the kitchen table or your favorite spot on the couch.
But the most ideal setup is a desk and chair dedicated completely to your work, even if this desk space is in a multifunctional room.
The next most important part of creating an at-home office space is to create a space where you can easily sit down and get right to work.
Arrange the items you need for work each day in your area of productivity. That way, when you “go to work” each day everything you need will be there ready and waiting for you.
You also want your remote workspace to be comfortable so you can easily spend lots of time working there.
Try setting up your space with back cushions, a heater, a favorite sweater or lap blanket, a water cooler, a spot for a coffee mug, and headphones for blocking out distracting noises.
When setting your workspace up it’s also important to try and keep out distractions. So if you have kids, you might need to set up a desk space somewhere in the house where the kids can’t bother you or away from where the kids play.
One thing that can help you stay motivated and focused while working from home is to still dress for work each morning.
Getting dressed for work, even when you’re working from home, can help you stick to a normal work schedule, especially if remote work is difficult for you.
Working remotely also gives you a unique opportunity to experiment and try out new things with your work wardrobe. You can also get creative by dressing down a little and switching to business casual or even a modified business casual.
Modified business casual clothing is comfortable, casual, but has an element or two in the ensemble that is more professional.
These smarter dress components help make you look like you dressed for success while still being comfortable and cozy in your remote work outfits.
To achieve a business casual look all you have to do is pick a smarter article of clothing to complete your look. This might be a blazer, a cardigan, a button-up shirt, a skirt, dress shoes, or fabric pants.
The key is to not only wear professional items in your ensemble. For example, you might wear a button-up shirt with a comfy cardigan or you might wear a business-appropriate top with your favorite sweatpants.
Modified business casual for working at home is a combination of business wear and comfy loungewear. Dressing professionally can be a really important routine in some people’s efforts to stay motivated and focused on work.
Other remote workers might find it easier to be just as productive in pajamas as a suit. Decide for yourself what you need to wear to be productive and get in the appropriate work mindset.
Whether you’re working full-time, part-time, as a freelancer, or for remote companies, having a home wardrobe as a remote worker can help you feel great and keep you ready in case of a surprise conference call.
Just because you're working from home, that doesn't mean you won't need to show up for virtual meetings and conference calls.
Not only will dressing up while doing remote work keep you ready in case of any sudden Zoom calls, but it will also help you get into the zone for your remote workday.
It can be tempting to wear pajamas at work from home jobs, but sometimes this lack of effort can have a negative impact on your work and overall mood. If you find this to be the case for you, then get together your own remote work wardrobe.
You might be tempted to work different hours now that you’re working from home. If you don’t have to show up in an office every day then you technically could sleep in and start work late.
In theory, this might seem like a great perk to working from home, but you have to remember that if you start work at noon, you won’t be done until 8:00 or 9:00 that night.
If you’re ok with working later into the evenings and don’t have anything else that might need your attention during that time, then go for it! But if you want to keep a semblance of normalcy, it’s a good idea to continue a regular work schedule and continue to wake up early for work.
You might even be able to start your workday earlier and finish sooner since you don’t have to spend time commuting to work. You might also find it easier to wake up early in the morning for work when you don’t have to leave your own home to get to “the office” and start your workday.
You might also be tempted to work different shifts, but if you’re going to eventually go back to the workplace, then it’s in your best interest to remain used to your regular work shift schedule.
Otherwise, you could enjoy creating your own work shift schedule and work 10 hour days Monday through Thursday and take a long weekend. You could also work 4 hours in the morning and 4 more hours in the evening before bed. One of the perks of being a remote worker is that you get to be your own boss and decide your own schedule.
No matter what hours you want to keep when working from home, remaining consistent with that schedule is imperative to stay organized and focused. Think of your at-home workspace as a real office where you must keep your scheduled hours.
Staying consistent with the hours you work is especially important if you get paid hourly and need to keep track of the hours you work. Sending a time report to your boss or client that includes 15-minute intervals, sporadically spread out in the day, is just going to be a mess for everyone and make you seem less professional.
A schedule will also help you be more productive. On your daily work schedule jot down what you plan to do during every hour of the day. This will help you see how productive you are and help keep you on track.
Working from home often needs to be more structured and outlined than working in an office building, especially if you need to report on your time or tasks. But you might also just find working at home easier on yourself if you plan out every hour or even half-hour of what exactly you’re going to do and work on.
One of the biggest tricks to staying productive when working from home is to set up a morning routine. The key to this trick is to make a morning routine that gets you in the right mindset to sit down and go to work. You want this routine to be like a preworkout routine but for doing your office work.
To figure out what would make a good morning routine for you, think about what you do to get ready to go to work at the office building. Then figure out how to incorporate these practices into your work life at home.
Maybe you stop at Starbucks for coffee each morning on your drive to work. Try setting up a coffee station at home, maybe even with some fun new coffee things, and have fun learning to make your own coffee blends. Or get in your car in the morning and go through a drive-thru for coffee even though you’re just going back home to work.
Maybe you need to pull on some workout clothes and go for a run before you’re ready to sit down and start your workday. Or turn on a morning playlist while you get ready for the day and get together some breakfast.
Working from home can be very isolating. To help you feel a little less alone stay connected with your coworkers and fellow remote workers wherever possible. Collaborate with people from work and stay connected using work from home apps. There are so many tools out there you can use to make this easier so you don’t miss the ease of communication from the office too much.
Another way you can cure boredom and loneliness when working from home is to find a remote work buddy. This could be someone you know who also works remotely or a coworker you’re closed to.
Put your remote work friend on Facetime, Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts and set them on your desk while you work, so you can create a type of virtual office space.
Even if you aren’t working together, it can still be nice to do your own work together. This can be a great way to support one another and even help each other whenever one of you needs to talk through a problem.
If you have a coworker or team that you do normally work closely with, then creating a team chat can be really helpful. Stay connected with your coworkers like you normally would be with video conferencing.
Homelife can be very distracting. Take a moment to sit down and make a list of all the potential distractions at home. It might be the TV, kids, pets, your phone, or loud roommates. Distractions aren’t just the other people who live with you, they’re also your personal temptations.
Once you have this list, make a game plan with everyone else in the house for how you’re going to combat these distractions.
Let other household members know your hours and when you are and aren’t available. Explain to them that you shouldn’t be disturbed during these hours. It’s a good idea to even post your office hours on your home office door.
Put your cell phone on the do-not-disturb setting for your work hours. That way you won’t be distracted by notifications on your phone. There are also apps you can install on your phone that are designed to keep you off your phone.
Work with your partner to set up a plan for taking care of the kids. You’ll want to coordinate the kid’s school and care schedules with your work schedules as best you can.
For example, if you and your spouse are both working, but your kids are also at home, then take turns working different shifts. You might work from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm and then do the kids for the rest of the day while your spouse works from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm. You could even take turns with each shift during the week.
One of the best ways to eliminate distractions is to get yourself some great headphones and listen to podcasts, music, white noise, TEDtalks, or background-friendly television while you work.
Most employers have policies on taking breaks and lunch breaks during the workday. A policy that is really common in many places of work is an hour for lunch and two additional 15-minute breaks. If you aren’t working as a freelancer and have an employer, make sure you ask them about their policies for breaks.
Schedule these breaks into your day when you do your morning planning. Set reminders on your phone so that you don’t miss these important opportunities to stand up and walk away from your screen. When it’s time to take a break, set a timer so you know when to get back to work.
Take advantage of these breaks. They’re important for keeping up workplace morale and preventing tension and screen headaches. Stand up, walk around, go for a walk outside, get a snack, and check in with the rest of the household.
It’s also a good idea to not look at a screen while you’re taking your breaks. It can be tempting to mindlessly scroll through your phone during a break, but your phone screen will just continue to strain your eyes and result in nasty headaches once the long screen-filled workday is over.
Just like you want a morning routine to put you in the work mindset, you also want an end of the workday routine for getting back out of that work mindset. Having a daily ritual to get out of that work mentality is especially important when you’re working at home.
When you don’t work from home, you have the whole journey home to wind down and let go of the workday. But when you do work from home, there’s no literal journey away from work to help you be present in your home and put work away for the day.
Leaving work you might gather some items from your desk to take home, you might wipe down your desk area, or you might stop somewhere on your way home. When you end the workday at home, try wiping down your desk, logging off your computer for at least an hour, and maybe taking a walk outside to reset before going back inside and being home instead of “at work.”
If you have kids then you know they can be a lot of work. They need and want your attention, but when you have work to do, it can be hard to provide that attention and care. Coordinate with your partner or a close relative to help take care of the kids during your workday, just like you would if you had to physically leave home to go to work.
But if your kids are old enough, you could also set up a coworking space and have them work alongside you during your business hours. Have your kids do their schoolwork at the same time you’re doing office work. You can even set up desk spaces together so it feels like you’re all in a makeshift home classroom/office together. This can help your kids focus on schoolwork and keep them from disrupting your own work.
The key to working with kids is making a schedule that works for both you and the kids. You can also adjust your work schedule to better match your kid's schedule. This might involve dividing your workday into 2 parts since kids don’t usually have a single 8-hour chunk of time in their day.
So for example, your kids might have school until 2:00 pm, so you can work until 2:00 pm, and then finish your workday hours at 8:00 when you put the kids to bed. Or maybe you can finish the last chunk of your work hours in the evenings while the kids relax and watch TV.
Even if your office is at home, it’s important to keep up your office morale. Find ways to keep yourself feeling excited and positive about your career. Here are just a few things you can try to keep yourself motivated and happy working from home.
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