Is it possible to transition from in-office set hours to productively work from home? Simple Answer - ABSOLUTELY! Honest Answer - Yes, but it's not always easy.
So... HOW DO YOU DO IT?! I have been asked this question by numerous colleagues recently. After spending a career working with rigid in-office hours, Noctiluca Lighting was founded with a business structure that promotes a flexible remote working environment. The transition to work-at-home while also balancing two young children and a home life honestly took some trial and error. My biggest problem? I was trying to find BALANCE (even distribution of weight). When in reality I needed to find EQUILIBRIUM (condition of being equal or equivalent in value or worth). Now that I have found equilibrium (separate blog coming!), all systems have been GO and smooth sailing!
When I started working from home, I read that to be productive and successful I needed DISCIPLINE and FOCUS. Those words seemed so daunting, and if you're like me - you may not be quite sure exactly HOW to achieve those... So here is my collected Tips & Tricks to help successfully, and productively, work from home (WFH) - that I wish I had known... 1. CALENDAR -
Set it, live by it, always have it open and visible.
Set work blocks (minimum 2 hours each) IN your calendar - with reminders, on repeated schedule.
Make sure you coordinate these times with your employer, they will want you to be available and productive to fit the needs of the company/clients.
Less than 2 hour windows tend to be less focused or productive.
Schedule and actually take your breaks! It's all too easy to run downstairs to the Kitchen for lunch and then quickly return, but you need the physical and mental break just like if you were in an office (and legally breaks can be required!)
Schedule in variety. Believe me, the days WILL start to blend together! Whether it's ordering lunch every Friday, or a workout class on Wednesdays - find something that helps trigger memory of the day of the week ("Oh today is Tuesday, because I have my weekly Networking Coffee Date").
Schedule getting fresh air and sunshine outside (open windows next to your desk don't count). It's good for the body, mind and soul!
2. MINDSET -
"GO" TO WORK
Yup. Simple as that. Just because your location changes - your "work mindset" should not.
The power of positive thinking - set your mindset up for success with -
Keep to a Work Day/Week routine, as if you had a meeting with an in-office boss first thing everyday.
When its time for work to start (per your calendar!) then you better be ready to go!
DRESS THE PART
Get dressed to go to work. (maybe not full blown suit and tie, you're allowed to be comfortable, but definitely no PJs or leggings! Plus... you gotta check yourself in those slacks every now and then... if the waist band stretches, don't wear it everyday!)
Be prepared to have a video call.
Dress for success! If you are dressed to be lazy that influences mindset, and then it's hard to be productive.
Have a dedicated space/room that you use as your office. This space should only be used for work.
Keep it clean, as if you were going to have clients come visit (see Limit Distractions below).
Just because your designated office is just 20 feet from your bed doesn't mean you shouldn't commute!
Leave the house and "commute". Take the kids to school, walk around the block, go grab a coffee, walk the dog. Whatever your "leaving" looks like - do it every workday and when you return to your home, return to your office to work (at the time in your calendar!).
If you were previously commuting, then your work from home commute should be less time than your previous drive. Think of all the TIME you now have back in each day and week! Make positive use of that leftover time.
3. LIMIT DISTRACTIONS
If you wouldn't have it in the office and it distracts you (TV, dog, kids) - then remove it from your work environment.
Silence distracts me, so I have a set playlist that I play on repeat on headphones to help focus.
Clear the Clutter!
A clean desk is nice to arrive to each morning when you start work, just like a nicely made bed is nice at night. Clutter can be distracting!
Turn off phone notifications
Just because the boss can't see you checking Instagram, don't do it until your calendar says you have a scheduled break!
Working from home and only talking to the dog or fish can get very lonely, VERY quickly. If isolation isn't your thing - make sure you add to your calendar to have regular in-person meetings (Microsoft Teams or Zoom Video calls) to SEE someone else while you're talking to them (phone calls with no video don't count!).
Find a friend who also works from home (who isn't a co-worker) - and set up working "dates"! The company of a physical human while you work can be comforting!
Invest in a chair, desk and computer screens (I prefer 3!) that work for you and the type of work you are doing. If you need a sit-stand desk - get it.
Utilize chat features with colleagues. The efficiency of a quick chat message instead of an email or phone call can keep you on track and focused.
Upgrade your WiFi if needed. Sitting waiting for a drawing to open because of slow internet connections is prime time for distractions to set in, and will quickly lead to inefficiencies!
6. GET HELP
This is mostly just for anyone who has care responsibilities, especially with kids.
Can you work from home and watch the kids? In the same day - YES! Just not at the same time!
If you tell me you can watch the kids AND work at the same time, then you're lying to both of us because one of the two isn't getting done (very well at least).
Schedule your day, and get help so that you can have your calendar "working hours" where your family knows that you are not to be disturbed, so that you can focus.
I work well during my son's nap. My daughter has quiet time at this time, where she can read or color quietly. If she chooses to do it at her desk that is next to mine, GREAT! I love her company! But she is old enough to focus on her own and knows to not to disrupt.
Everyone has their own distractions, vices and environments. Whatever your day looks like or tricks you've found that work FOR YOU to have a productive, successful day - stick to them!