Remote work certainly has its perks, but for many of us it also has its challenges. In this blog series, we’ll focus on the home office, discussing ways to adapt, and conquer—both as an employer and an employee. This is post four of the series. You can follow the rest of the series and read our past posts here.
If you’re working from home and find yourself daydreaming of the moment you can trade in your sweatpants for work clothes, brave the rush-hour commute, and swipe into the office just before 9:00 a.m.—you haven’t gone crazy.
While the thought of working from home may have once seemed like the ultimate luxury, challenges may arise that can make you long for the feeling of physically being at work.
The good news is there are ways to tackle these challenges, so you can truly enjoy the many perks of a home office. Here are some common road bumps and ways to conquer them:
Technology makes working from home, amongst a lot of other things, achievable. Though it can sometimes be unreliable—leaving you frustrated and possibly grunting at inanimate objects like your computer.
Gone are the days where IT can arrive at your desk and make all your problems disappear in what seems like a few easy clicks—or so you thought. While IT most likely can’t come to your door, they can virtually still come to the rescue by remoting in to your device, or walking you through tasks over the phone.
The trick is to be prepared for things to happen, so you aren’t caught off guard when they do. Have one or two people (if possible) in your IT department be your go-to contacts for technical issues. It’s a good idea to establish a relationship with them and to let them know in advance that you will be reaching out if you find yourself needing their help. We recommend saving their contact information in a couple places other than your email or computer—such as your phone, and/or a notebook you keep at home. This will especially come in handy if you are having trouble accessing your inbox or desktop.
Another way to be prepared is to try starting your day 10-15 minutes early—this way if a problem does arise, you can get behind it and establish a plan before the workday kicks in. This is not something you need to do, but it can ease the stress of coming across an issue when you are operating on a deadline. Remember, your IT department most likely does not work around the clock. The earlier you spot a problem, the more time you give them to troubleshoot so you can get back up and running as soon as possible.
Unless you live alone, working from home, likely means sharing your workspace with other people. This can be, well, complicated. If you often find yourself giving your new colleagues the side-eye from across the room, it might be helpful to sit down with them and establish some boundaries. Communication is key to enjoying your shared home office.
We recommend discussing your work schedule with your “at-home” co-workers ahead of time—letting them know if you have any meetings, or when you may need some silence in order to concentrate. This will help you avoid things like the blender being turned on during an important call, and other distractions, such as loud music, movies, or social media videos. It’s important to think ahead, and work together to establish a plan, so you are being respectful and mindful of each other’s space.
Keep in mind that if your job requires hours that aren’t typical, it may be complicated for others in your household to distinguish if you are working or not. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have an area that is your dedicated workspace. This will not only help you concentrate, but will let others know that if you are in that space—you are in fact—working.
When you work from home, you tend to be very stationary. This can cause a stiff neck or back pain that may have you wishing you had an excuse to get up and move around. Fortunately, you don’t need a kitchen filled with co-workers, or a conference room located on another floor, to solve this issue.
It’s important to remember to stretch periodically throughout the day, especially since it’s easy to lose track of time when you aren’t in the office. We recommend setting reminders in your phone to get up and move around. If possible, try to schedule a walk outdoors during your lunch break. This will not only warm up your muscles, but it will help clear your mind.
If classes interest you, yoga is also quite popular for easing muscle pain and finding that “Zen” you may be yearning for. You can switch things up by tuning in to a virtual class after work—the goal is to make sure you are finding time to keep yourself moving, so that physical strain can’t creep up on you.
Do you feel like you’re always working? It may be because your office is at home and your home is at the office. It is important to separate these two things, so you can find a happy balance between being productive at work and enjoying yourself when you’re not.
It could be as simple as setting timeframes for when you are deemed “at work” and goals to accomplish outside of the office. Start by establishing a schedule for yourself, and stick to it as best you can. To help you do this, find a place in your home that is recognized as your workspace, and, if possible, only work from there. This will train your mind for when to be in “work mode” and when to not be.
After you’re done working, remember to shut down. You can do this by turning off your computer, and any other things needed for work, and putting them away. This will ensure you aren’t tempted to keep working after hours.
In order to get yourself into the “at home” mindset, we recommend having a list of activities you want to accomplish after work, such as cooking a fun meal, doing a puzzle, or listening to your favorite podcast. These will keep your mind away from the office, and allow you to properly wind down before the next workday.