Many companies have started to allow their employees to work from home. As technology’s capabilities only continue to increase, most people can pretty much do everything they’d normally do in the office right in the comfort of their own homes. Whether you work from home all the time, balance between time in the office and time at home, or you occasionally take a work-from-home day after a vacation, you’ll want to stay just as productive in your own space as you would in your typical office setting.
Create an office space
Just because you’re working at home doesn’t mean you should just curl up in bed with your laptop and work from there. It’s important that you take the time to set up your workspace, especially if you work from home frequently or all the time. Set up a desk with a comfortable chair, computer, and all the office supplies you’ll need, like pens, paperclips, and a stapler. Decorate the area with photos or art that makes you happy, along with a large calendar or planner to help you stay organized.
You’ll want your home office to mimic an actual office. That means you should behave as you would during a work day surrounded by coworkers. Refrain from using your office space for sleeping, watching TV, exercising, or really anything else you wouldn’t do at work. If your phone or social media accounts often tempt you, keep your phone out of reach and ban yourself from using social media websites on your work computer.
Get in the right frame of mind
If you’re someone who works best when you’re comfortable, by all means wear casual clothes during the work day. But if you feel extra productive in clothes you’d wear into the office, wear them when you’re in your home workspace as well. This will get you in the right mindset for a productive day.
You should also make yourself unavailable when you step into your office. Just because you’re in your house doesn’t mean you have the time to take care of your kids all day or that a friend can drop by for a coffee and chat whenever they’d like. Arrange for childcare and pet care prior to working from home, and make it clear that you’re on a schedule. If a friend or family member wants to come over, let them know that you’re still working, so that everyone remains respectful of your time.
Communicate with the rest of the company
Make sure to keep yourself available and communicate with your co-workers so that your team can still run smoothly. Keep Skype or FaceTime on your computer in case you need to join in a meeting via video chat. If your company uses an instant messaging system, communicate with your boss and co-workers about the projects you’re working on throughout the day and ask them questions if you need help solving a problem.
Schedule your breaks
Don’t let yourself drift into taking your breaks haphazardly, as this could quickly turn your day into one giant break. Take your breaks like you would during a day in an office away from your house. Because you’re home, you can use your breaks to catch up on the laundry, get your workout in, or call a friend or family member to catch up. However, make sure you’re still eating regularly throughout the day if you’re not going to use a break for lunch. It’s a good idea to meal prep the night before so you can just grab a premade lunch or snack from the fridge when you’re ready.
Keep a To-Do List
At the beginning of your day, write down a list of tasks you’d like to accomplish during your work day, and actually stick to the list. It’s easy to be unproductive when no one is watching you work, and this can become a harmful pattern that negatively impacts the quality of your work. On the other hand, working from home doesn’t mean you should go far beyond your to-do list or regular working hours. You still need to live your life outside of work. When you’re finished for the day, close the door behind you and resist any urge you might feel to go back into your home office and finish up just one more thing.
Chances are, you’re going to have to work from home at some point. It’s important to simulate your working environment as best you can in your own house and to maintain a work-life balance in this alternative workspace.