Working from home – What could go wrong?
No commute, no uncomfortable work clothes, no annoying cube mate – the idea of working from home sounds great. But how is it really? Working from home is no longer a “nice to have”, but is becoming a mandatory requirement from job seekers. How are you setting yourself up for success? Here are some key points to think about before you make the change to work from home.
Working from home may lead you to think that all distractions will be eliminated. Wrong! There are possibly even more distractions tempting you at home. That load of laundry you meant to switch last night; the dishes piled up in the sink; the dog that won’t stop dropping the tennis ball in your lap. The list goes on and on. Home distractions are arguably more tempting to participate in because those are things you know you’re going to do anyway.
How to Avoid Distractions When Working from Home
If you’re going to work from home, your self-discipline needs to be on point. Here are some tips on how to avoid distractions at home:
- Get in the routine of doing all household chores the night before. Take away any temptation that might be testing you the next day.
- Build in a lunch-time routine. Take an hour away from the computer and make it as productive as possible. If you’re going to take that lunch break to get caught up around the house, set a timer. That hour is going to fly by a lot quicker than you think.
Working from home can be lonely. It’s just a fact. You’re going from a social environment to the confines of your own home. When you work in an office, you build relationships, whether it’s intentional or not. You learn about what colleagues did on the weekend, or what sports team they’re cheering for that night. Once you start working from home, that all goes away.
How to Avoid Loneliness When Working from Home
Here are some tips on how to avoid loneliness when you work from home:
- Involve yourself in extra-curricular activities. Join the gym, book club, go to the dog park, take up a pottery class.
- Do something that gets you out of the house every single day. It can be easy (especially during the Minnesota winters) to hold up in your house and hibernate. But understand that, if you’re working from home five days per week, you need to take an active role in building in some social time.
It’s a common perception that, when you work from home, you’ll have the ultimate work/life balance. This isn’t always the case. Working from home can create an “on-call” feeling. It’s harder to walk away from your work and create that separation. This can be particularly trying especially when work is busy. You might think you’ll feel better by putting in the extra hours, but you are actually at risk of burnout.
For more blogs related to burnout, check out How to Avoid the Job Search Burnout .
How to Improve Work/Life Balance When Working from Home
- Have set work hours and follow them.
- Know when to walk away at the end of the day. You will attack the next day fresh and with energy.
- Have your home office in a separate room of your house. When you are in that room, you are at work. When you are outside that room, you are at home. Having the space physically defined will help you mentally define your work and home time.
When working from home, it’s easy to miss out on key pieces of communication. You might miss out on the natural collaboration that happens in the lunch room, or the unplanned meeting by your peers. The responsibility falls to you to stay up-to-date.
How to Improve Communication When Working from Home
- Follow up daily with your peers and managers to make sure you’re up-to-date and on the same page.
- Ask to use a video conferencing service to help keep that physical presence in the office.
- Send recaps at the end of the day or week.
- Keep a standing 1:1 meeting with your manager.
Sometimes over communicating is best, especially while you’re still figuring out how to work from home. Your peers will appreciate your initiative to stay in touch and it will limit any area of miscommunication down the road.
If you’re currently considering a job that allows you to work from home, make sure to think through these key points. Navigating through these points will allow you to enjoy the many perks that a remote role provides.