There are plenty of advantages about working from home, and many of us are currently adjusting to working at home. It’s something that’s been envied by those who trudge into work daily, some facing long commutes or toxic work environments. While it’s true that working at home can give you a lot of freedom, there are somethings about it that people don’t tell you. Here are some of the top things people don’t share with you about working inside your own abode and how you can work around them to keep you just as successful as you would be (if not more!) than inside the cubicle.
You Should Still Get Dressed
Yes, it’s true no one can see your plaid pajama pants beneath your dress shirt and tie while on that video conference call, but you really should get dressed. I’ve heard it described as the same premise as phone interviews; they can’t see you, but if you dress for success, it will definitely make a difference.
You Should Still Get Up at the Same Time
Just as with making sure you’re still dressed for work, you should keep giving yourself the same amount of time between waking up and working that you would have had during your office days. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of sleeping in because you don’t have to commute, but it’s rarely ever warranted and can cause more trouble than it’s worth.
Make sure you don’t say to yourself, I can eat breakfast while I work or put that pot of coffee on after I log in and check my emails. Having the same amount of time you would normally have given yourself to get up and ready for the office is really quite important when you’re working from home. You wouldn’t expect to show up to work with an empty stomach and severely lacking your morning cup-of-joe/tea/smoothie/lemon water and still be enthusiastic and ready to take on the day. The same principle applies; and you’ve really got to give your body a chance to move and get the blood flowing. Even though the computer is just a few feet away, think of how much activity you would already have had if you had gone to the office.
Scurrying around the house getting ready, walking from car to parking lot or walking or taking the public transport, walking around your office halls, etc.—your body is used to doing all of that before you tackle your first string of emails, projects, and meetings. You’ll think better if your blood is flowing, and if you wake up late to just stumble to your computer, you will miss out on this vital movement.
You Shouldn’t Use Your Laptop on the Couch or Bed
Just like the temptation to sleep in before turning the computer on, you shouldn’t be using your work laptop in bed or on the couch. It’s easy to convince yourself that you should breakfast in bed, lean over and turn your laptop on and get to work.
However, this is really not going to do you any favors. If you’re home sick and literally just need to fire off a few quick things, sometimes it’s unavoidable to do this; but if you’re starting working from home for the first time (or the tenth!), do yourself a favor by not doing this.
It’s the same principle as getting yourself dressed. By continuing to dress for work, you give yourself a chance to psychologically separate your workday from your home life, which becomes more and more important as time goes on when you work from home. It’s vital to a work-at-home endeavor to be able to stop working and move on with your evening so you can “leave your work at work.”
When you’re working at home, you obviously can’t leave work at work, so it’s really important to set up a workspace that is purely a workspace. Sometimes, this isn’t possible because you may not have an extra surface to work on or have an office to use. Tempting as it is to use the couch or bed, if you have a kitchen table or anything else, it’s better to avoid using your relaxation areas.
When work or work-related clutter starts building up in other areas of the house, like bedrooms or living rooms, you’ll be thinking about work every time you see it. It’s much better to set yourself up a temporary workspace at a kitchen table (if this is your only option) and move it away and out of sight before dinner each night than to let work enter your relaxation areas. (Trust me on this one.)
You Should Try to Get Outside for a Walk
Another pitfall new workers-at-home fall into is staying put all day. Everything you need is inside the house, so it’s ok to stay inside, right?
It’s really important to get out and breathe fresh air. Even if you never made an effort to do this while you worked in the office, think about how much time outside the house you actually spent. Granted, many of us exchanged being inside our houses for just being inside another office building–but remember how much you’d actually be outside while you commuted, ran errands, and picked up your lunch.
If you can, take some time to walk around the block. It will help you feel connected to the world outside your home. It seems silly that you could lose the sense of connection to the outside; after all, you’re likely doing lots of Zoom conferences, video calls, Skype messaging, talking on the phone, emailing, instant messaging, and texting all day while you work at home. All of those are great ways of communicating and keeping you in constant touch with your employers or clients, but you have to realize that it’s not very grounding.
When we work at home in this modern day and age of all the instant digital communications, you’re actually exposing yourself to much more time with technology. It can actually be quite disembodying if you don’t take time to center yourself with your body and nature. When we work with digital technology, you aren’t using your voice as much—instead you’re typing. You soon risk becoming just eyes connected to a keyboard who is more than likely slouching. Again, even if you didn’t make an effort of doing this while you worked in the office, remember how much time you’d spend just interacting with your coworkers at breaks, lunch, and how many times you actually left your desk and came back into your body.
Now, when you work at home, you’re pretty much just stuck at your desk, and you have very little opportunity to stand up and feel your body. Taking time to come back into your body by both taking a break and going into nature are two of the best ways to ground yourself after long days on the computer and phone.
You could take a walk, or just step outside and look at a change of scenery or spend a few minutes on your porch. Any of these will make you more productive.
You may never have realized how important these simple things were for working at home! If you take a few extra steps to creating a good work environment at home and practice good work-at-home practices, it will make you very productive. You may even find you are more productive while working in the comforts of your own home—just remember not to get too comfortable!