Working from home, or WFH as we call it, has become a trend of late, and especially now during the pandemic. New remote workers, as well as those who were working remotely before the crisis, are finding WFH to be a blessing in disguise. Why? For all the obvious reasons like cutting down on travel costs, the time saved from the commute, no need for new office wear, saving lunch money, flexibility of working anywhere anytime, and more.
Estimates say that at least 25-30% of the workforce will be working remotely, multiple days a week, by the end of 2021. A survey post-crisis showed that 80% of workers want to work from home for at least some of the time, and one-third of those were even up for a cut in salary to make it happen. As it was, 15% of employees were already working from home before the pandemic erupted.
While many employees are pleased as punch, managers aren’t quite as happy with the looseness of many arrangements. Managers are needing to adapt and find new ways to keep in touch and stay in charge without micromanaging their team. At the end of the day, results matter more than screen time, right?
At the same time, employees are struggling with how to draw the line between their personal and professional lives. The line that separates the two is getting thinner and thinner each day. Of course, the circumstances of the current environment are unprecedented and it will take time to figure things out. But, everyone knows by now that life will become a complete mishmash if we don’t find a way to maintain some boundaries at least between our work and our life.
Let’s dive into a few changes you should make to keep it all separate and balanced when working from home.
Make These Changes When Working From Home
1. Acknowledge that a separation between professional and personal life is imperative
The most challenging part of working from home is accepting the fact that personal and professional lives need to be separate. The sooner you realize this, the better you will do in these two crucial spheres of life. The pressures of working from a home office can be overwhelming, but don’t let it take you over.
The mind tricks us into loosening up a bit and thinking we can just work at our convenience. To avoid this, remind yourself that you’re in an unorthodox work environment, with different circs, requiring a different version of yourself. Just this new mindset will help you transition better while working remotely.
There is no denying that working from home can be a challenge, but figuring out how you can work effectively without hampering your private life is the goal. Your future self will thank you for drawing the line between the two.
2. Schedule Your Working Hours
I’m afraid it needs to be said that you’ll need to work your regular office hours and bring laser focus to your work during that period. You can tweak the schedule a bit and yes, one of the advantages of WFH is flexibility.
But, working haphazardly in bits and pieces will create chaos and ultimately impact your productivity. On top of that, you’ll end up working more hours than needed! Another downside is that when you work inconsistently, you’ll likely be compelled to attend conference calls or conduct other business during your me-time. Chances are, you might be out for groceries or driving your child home from music classes in the evening when the call comes in.
Don’t hang back from up skilling yourself. A task that takes you an hour to complete now may take but a matter of a few minutes to complete with improved training and practice. Pick up or refine a skill, sign up for Quickbooks classes or begin a full-fledged course on an e-learning platform like Thinkific. This pandemic-induced shift to WFH is the right opportunity to acquire skills given your new flexibility; equip yourself with the most in-demand competencies.
So schedule your work hours and make sure to put the time in. Your time off will be all yours.
3. Try not to switch spaces very often
When working remotely, there are an abundance of places to work from–be it on the bench in your backyard, your sofa in the living room, the local park or cafeteria, a corner in the kitchen–the list never ends. But, it’s highly recommended to find a good working spot in your home and stay there.
The pluses behind this recommendation are many; here’s just a few of the compelling ones:
a) consistent and comfy workspaces will keep you focused on your work,
b) the lion’s share of your day’s work will get done without distractions
c) you’re sending a clear message to your family that it’s work time and you’re not to be disturbed for anything less than an emergency.
Keep in mind that while you may be working from home, you are still at work. Family time needs to be allotted, but make sure it’s outside of working hours and space.
4. Set boundaries
“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.” Anonymous
The above quote applies beautifully to this discussion. While working remotely, managing your boundaries will be crucial to ensuring balance in your life. If not done well, you’ll end up working round the clock, in all sorts of trouble, before you even notice it.
Those notification sounds while you’re helping your child complete her homework might tempt you to scan through the group texts. And on the other hand, your neighbor might pop by and you might be tempted to sit and have a cup of coffee. You’ll need to think of your workspace just as you do your regular office.
Make sure you have all the amenities you’ll need to work comfortably and set boundaries; not just for space, but also for time. You’ll be better set to avoid distractions and give all you’ve got to each area of your life.
5. Create a pleasant work environment
“I’ve got a theory: if you love your workspace, you’ll love your work a little more.” Cynthia Rowley, American Fashion Designer
Who doesn’t love working on a first-class oak tree desk decorated with bonsai plants in an air-conditioned sweet-smelling space? Get rid of that pile of laundry and take out the trash! Chances are, a messy environment will hamper your efficiency and distract you. Working in unfavorable workplaces stresses people out and leads to the under-utilization of employee capabilities.
However, working in a pleasant environment is vital to your remote working success. You’ll be more creative and motivated when you are at peace in a cozy place. The icing on the cake is that you won’t be thinking of your work as just work, you’ll love it.
You know best on how you can keep your space optimally set up. Identify the curveballs, eliminate them, freshen the air in your workspace, unclutter your desk, and dress smart; if you feel smart, only then can you work smart.
This marks the end of this blog. These are my experience-based suggestions and might help you too in keeping your work life separate from your home life. Make these changes to your remote working plan and see the results for yourself. Stay safe, stay productive!