Working From Home: Adjusting to Telecommuting
02 Apr 2020 By: Shelby Shaffer
Updated: 10 Jan 2021
Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
Yawn and stretch and try to come to life
Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin’
Out on the street the traffic starts jumpin’
With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5… well not anymore.
This fun little song by the glorious Dolly Parton perfectly depicted life for working Americans. Then COVID-19 forced businesses with non-essential personnel to work from home.
While some people might find this to be an easy adjustment, others, like myself, actually enjoyed their office space. It offered more than the physical necessities for success; it was the mental headspace you’d be in to get work done.
Now, millions of us are working from the “comfort” of home, with all its associated distractions. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my dogs more than any other living thing, but when I have deadlines to meet, it’s hard to focus with two 60lb Pitbulls in my lap.
(ok but seriously, how do I say “no” to this)
In the U.S. a reported 4.7 million employees work from home at least half the week, so they probably have a decent setup and routine. But for those of us who are not accustomed to working at home (but fortunate to be able to do so), these helpful tips might save your sanity and your business.
Create a Home Office Space
Replicating your office space is a great first step to getting into the mindset for success. Having a designated “work area” will help to limit distractions and keep you focused throughout the day.
Personally, my home office is typically for one, but thanks to COVID-19, I’m quarantined with my significant other. Between the two of us, however, we are able to successfully share a home office.
You may have to get a bit creative like I did. We only have one sitting desk, so I commandeered the ironing board to work as a makeshift standing desk!
A sneak peek into my home office, I have just about everything I normally would in my actual office.
One of the more helpful ideas we had was setting up additional monitors, borrowing the TV as a third screen for some larger projects. Naturally, I have snacks and two toys to keep my hands busy while working through writer’s block or brainstorming, and headphones and chargers are a must. I added the dog bed under my standing desk for comfort, and naturally, we’ve got the two fur babies holding us accountable.
While it’s not quite the same setup as my regular office, this accommodation is much more productive than sitting on my sofa or in bed.
Working From Home Attitude
The mental association you make between work and an office can keep you as productive at home as you would be in the office. (Thanks for that great tip, Hubspot!)
Having the right attitude about working from home can make or break the experience. While it’s fun for a day or two, if you’re accustomed to working from an office, working from home can be daunting.
Our best advice is to go about your morning and day like you actually are going to the office. Stick to your normal routine as closely as you can while still respecting the quarantine rules.
For me, that means still waking up at 6 am and doing some kind of home workout in the living room, showering, and making a hearty breakfast. Normally, I would attend a kickboxing class or at least go to the gym for 90 minutes before I go into the office. Getting some kind of exercise helps me start my day in the right headspace. I find I’m more alert and ready to work than if I just rolled out of bed and turned on my computer.
A bonus tip for adjusting your attitude is adjusting your wardrobe. If you find your first few days of working from home in sweats is less productive, try wearing something you might wear to the office. Comfortable jeans and a sweater or T-shirt is a step up from pajamas or sweats, without the restrictiveness of a pants suit, but you might find your productivity is higher.
29% of remote employees said they struggle with work-life balance, so this tip is super important for those who might not have the luxury of working from home alone. Those with kids, spouses, or other family members in the house who don’t have to work need to communicate the importance of boundaries while you’re working.
Building out your day as traditionally as possible is a great first step, but sometimes that won’t work if you have kids or others at home that will demand your attention. If that means adjusting your schedule to start earlier or take a longer lunch for accommodation, that’s ok as long as you communicate with the appropriate parties and meet deadlines accordingly.
Setting boundaries while working from home doesn’t just apply to others, set boundaries for yourself too! As tempting as it might be to multitask while you’re working, try to just focus on your work. That means limiting laundry and other household hobbies. Also, try not to eat at your workspace, and limit your access to social media platforms.
Working from home means you have to really practice accountability and self-control.
Have the Right Tools to Work From Home
In your regular office, you probably have all the tools you need for success. Why wouldn’t you grant yourself the same pleasures from your house?
Now, not everyone will have access to multiple monitors or standing desks, but you can get creative with your office tools! Peek at the image from earlier, I was able to use a TV as a third monitor and an ironing boarding as a standing desk.
Maybe you don’t have an extra TV to use, but there are app extensions you can use like Duet Display that allows you to connect an iPad or tablet to your laptop for a second screen. Or if your someone who actually uses your ironing board for ironing, placing your laptop on a stack of books for some height.
But tools don’t stop at your physical needs. Working from home probably interrupted how your business makes sales or provides customer support. Adding software like a live chat option is a great way to keep business running smoothly without worrying about losing too many customers.
When you set yourself up for success, your telecommuting experience can be a productive and positive one. In fact, 77% of remote employees say they’re more productive when working from home, so why can’t you be too!