Working from home comes with pros and cons. Some of the benefits are the reduced time spent commuting and getting ready for work, the increased time workers have available to spend with family and friends, and even the independence and autonomy workers often enjoy in telecommuting positions.
On the other hand, in addition to disadvantages like isolation and potentially longer hours, remote workers generally don’t just walk into a cubicle stocked with office equipment. Telecommuters often have to set up and provide their own computers, printers, telephone equipment, high speed Internet and phone service, desk and chair, office space, and supplies. Sure, they are sometimes reimbursed for these costs, but the task of purchasing the setup is often up to the telecommuter.
Telecommuters also have to find ways to force themselves to focus, because no one is “watching them.” Therefore, self-management is one of the most essential skills a remote worker can have.
How do you stay on top of all of this without becoming complacent or burnt out? Using information from a publication by FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton Fell, coupled with tips from our own staff and other resources, we’ve created a list of some tips and tricks that will make your work-from-home life just a little bit easier.
1. Get dressed before work
While one of the major benefits of working from home is working in your PJs, many telecommuters think it’s best not to take advantage of that perk. This is not to say you have to put on a suit and tie, or even anything fancy at all. But if you take a few minutes to get “work-from-home casual” before work by throwing on a pair of jeans, you may feel more like you’re in the office because you at least sort of look the part.
2. Don’t live at the desk
Some telecommuters do everything at their desk during the work day. They eat lunch at the desk, take every call, snack, and even fix their makeup.
Taking a few minutes here and there to get up throughout the day is essential, as research has shown that sitting in sedentary positions for long periods of time can not only reduce productivity, but it can also be detrimental to your health.
Research published on PubMed described “recent studies from Canada, Australia, and the United States, which show prospective relationships of sedentary behaviors with premature mortality. Importantly, adults can meet public-health guidelines on physical activity, but if they sit for prolonged periods of time, their metabolic health is compromised.”
In other words, even if you exercise the way that you are supposed to, sedentary behaviors, like working on the computer, can still be harmful if you don’t get up move around here and there.
3. Bring your hardware into the 21st century and have spares ready
For a telecommuters, user-friendly technology can make all the difference in the world. Tools, like dual monitors, a wireless mouse and keyboard, and a wireless telephone headset can improve your work life more than you probably think.
It also helps to have a backup Internet source, like a mobile hotspot, in the event of an Internet outage, as well as backup headsets, and even a backup computer.
4. Make your office into your space
What does your office look like? Do you have papers stacked up to the ceiling, assignment notes and memos covering your walls and bulletin boards, and food and drink containers from who knows when hiding underneath all of the clutter?
An estimated 76 working hours per person, per year are lost due to our disorganization. And between the time we spend searching for misplaced items around our desks, around the office, and on our computers, the cost of this time adds up to around $177 billion (yes, billion) each year, according to a study by Brother International Corporation.
Aside from simply having a desk and office that are neat and organized, it also helps to have an office that you enjoy spending time in. Try and refrain from tucking your desk into the corner of a bedroom. If possible, have an allocated area that’s just for your office. This will help you stay clear of any roommates or family when you need to completely lock in and also, allow you to completely personalized your office space.
Maybe paint your walls and desk in a color that expresses your personality, and hang up emails where you received accolades and display other accomplishments (aside from simply your educational degrees). If your office decor is cold and sterile, it may end up feeling like a place you can’t wait to leave, instead of your own personal quiet space to work.