Whether you have made the decision to start working from home or have been thrust into it temporarily, it’s a new adjustment for everyone. It can be exciting, liberating, confusing, or even anxiety-filled. But, if you know the pitfalls to avoid and the ways to prepare and work while in your home space, you can be very successful! Just a few key tips for working at home can make all the difference.
Starthub has been working with successful businesses and entrepreneurs based out of their home for years now. As experts in this area, we have found that there are some very specific strategies to ensure success when working from home. In this article, you will find an easy-to-follow guide with your Tips for Working from Home! Be sure to sign up for our Newsletter to get more tips and strategies emailed directly to you!
Set Up a Home Office & Set Yourself Up for Success
Create a Separate Work Space
This is one of the most important tips for working at home. When you first start working from home, it may seem incredibly appealing to plop down on the sofa in front of the TV with your laptop. It’s comfy, it feels more like leisure than work, it feels liberating. But, an hour when you wake up from the nap, you then realize maybe the table is better for productivity.
However, even a proper table if near the kitchen or TV can be incredibly distracting. You can find yourself watching a news clip on tv and losing focus. You may find yourself getting up every 15 minutes to get a snack. So finding a place in your home that you can dedicate to work is extremely important for your productivity.
If you don’t have a separate room that can serve as your office, create a separate desk area in a corner of a room. Then make sure that you have all of the supplies that you need there (pens, paper, printer, stapler, post-its, etc.). Have the desk face a window for natural light or put colorful pictures on the wall above the desk to motivate you. The joys of working from home are that you can create the space into whatever you want. So, take advantage of that freedom, but ensure that it is truly a place of work.
Set Office Hours & Ground Rules
And of course, there are tips for working at home for others in the home! Set some ground rules for both yourself and others in your household for when you are working. Perhaps you have set hours for work during the day. Perhaps there are rules for how to communicate with you when you are working. Make sure that everyone in your household understands where your ‘office’ is and does not come into that space during your work hours.
Set a Daily & Weekly Schedule
One of the benefits of working from home is eliminating a long commute. You can literally roll out of bed to your office in minutes. However, time and time again, successful leaders and successful entrepreneurs have pointed to their morning routine as a key factor in their success. A morning routine that allows you to focus, to energize, and to plan for your day is one that will help you in the long run.
Daily & Weekly Schedule
For some, making lists and scheduling your activities may come easy. For others, this is a horrible suffocating process. For still others, they fall somewhere in between. Figure out where you fall and do it anyway! Do it in a reasonable way for your working style, but scheduling your time will enable you to meet your daily, weekly, monthly, and ultimately annual objectives.
Scheduling your activities means blocking time on your calendar for priorities. You may be the type to schedule out 15 minute blocks of time to tackle many smaller activities. Some Entrepreneurs schedule days down to the minute! Or, you may schedule out hour blocks or even half day blocks depending on the breadth, the time, or the focus you will require. You can do this on paper, your planner, or in your daily online calendar. There are also many project management and scheduling tools and apps available these days. For example, Asana, Slack, or Trello just to name a few.
Tips for working at home also means knowing the pitfalls to be aware of and to schedule in if needed. For instance, you may think that it’s great to be able to tackle the laundry and the dishes while you work now. However, these are things that if done well and complete, will take your focus off of your work. If you start them in the morning, but don’t finish them, they will continue to haunt you throughout your day! This could bring feelings of guilt or even failure thinking that you cannot manage it all. The truth is, you SHOULDN’T manage it all. At least not during your working hours. So, schedule these other things in for later, so they do not impede on your work time.
Don’t forget to schedule in downtime. This is not to say that you can’t just get up and go for a walk whenever you feel frustrated or tired. That’s one of the benefits to working from home! No, this is to ensure that you do that! Oftentimes, we get into a groove or feel guilty taking a break. However, research shows that stepping away, pausing, or taking a break can actually help your brain and can improve productivity.
The breaks you take should switch activities and truly rest your brain. So, taking 15 minutes from a project to catch up on your emails, is not really a break at all. Instead, go for a walk outside. Do an online guided meditation. Read a relaxing book. Call a friend to catch up. Eat some lunch!
At a minimum, schedule in a 15 minute break every couple hours or between stressful activities. And whenever you feel frustrated or stuck on a certain problem, that’s exactly the time you should go for a walk to clear your head.
Working with Teams
Teams with members working remotely need tips for working from home as well. They should follow a few first steps together in order to set them up for success. This is true whether you’re starting a new team that will work remotely or you’re taking an existing face-to-face team into a new remote working environment.
The critical first step is to define roles and responsibilities. Since you cannot walk by their desk to check in, an entire day or even a week could go by without team members checking in on the status of activities. Therefore, detailing who does what and by when is extremely important. Understand everyone’s roles and the responsibilities associated with those roles will help everyone to succeed.
Next you want to be sure that your team has clearly defined Ways of Working. Will you meet twice a week or once a day? Will it be a phone call or video call? Who will set up the meeting and will it be Zoom or another conference call service? Who will host the meeting? Who will take and publish the meeting notes? Who will chase down the actions following the meeting? These are all important questions to answer to establish remote ways of working together. Having this all outlined with names and responsibilities will help you to establish clear accountability.
Finally, if working remotely is the permanent option for your business or you, check out a Coworking Space or Virtual office center, such as Starthub. These are fantastic options for meeting in person every once in a while or just getting you out of the house to work in a new environment. You technically need to use a real office space only when needed here and there and that’s how our solutions are built.
While working from home has many benefits, one of the challenges is the lack of human connection. We are humans and we need to connect with one another. Be sure to schedule video calls vs. just phone calls or email communication. Find other local business people working from home to meet for coffee. Meet a friend for a walk. All of these things will give you connection and energy, thereby helping to maintain motivation.
Outsource the Mundane!
If you have started your own business in order to work from home fulltime and gain some balance in your life, congratulations! In this instance, you need to seriously consider a Virtual Office to give you a real Business Address and phone number, provide a Receptionist to answer your calls, and for mail management! Read all about the benefits of a Virtual Office here.
Not only it will help you remove weights out of your shoulders, but it will also allow you to keep your business running smoothly and professionally while having time to focus on other important aspects of your operations.
There are many benefits to working from home. All it takes is some planning and preparation ahead so that you can achieve them all!