If you work from home, try these tips to enhance your productivity.
Once upon a time, working from home was predominantly an option only for small-business owners and those in the creative industry. Today, as many as 30 million Americans work from home at least once per week. And that number is on the rise. A recent study by the Telework Research Network predicts it will increase by 63 percent over the next five years.
In 2012 Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University conducted a study over a nine-month period to measure the productivity of employees who worked from home compared to those who worked at the office. The employees worked at Ctrip, a billion-dollar Chinese travel company based in Shanghai. He found the employees who worked from home averaged 13.5 percent more calls per week than those who worked in the office. “This translated into roughly a whole extra workday every week, and all because of a simple change in scenery,” said William Craig, president of WebpageFX and contributor to Forbes. He adds, “Maybe it goes without saying, but the company’s at-home employees also boasted a higher rate of job satisfaction.” The study also estimated that Ctrip saved $1,900 per employee (on space and furniture) over the nine-month period, according to Harvard Business Review.
Tips to Make Working From Home Work for You
While working from home may be ideal for some – freedom of fashion (think fuzzy slippers instead of shoes), a comfortable environment and no long commutes or traffic jams – it can be easy to get off-track if you aren’t dedicated and focused. Whether you work from home once a month or every day, these guidelines can help make it work for you.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t work as if you were in a corporate setting. Slotting certain hours of the day, such as 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., where you are unavailable to family and friends, can be helpful so they don’t show up on your doorstep midday or inundate you with phone calls or messages .
Take a break for lunch, but hold yourself accountable to your time commitment to maximize productivity, as if you were in the office.
Maybe you do your best work standing up at your kitchen counter or at the desk in your living room. Or perhaps you need to get out of the house altogether and prefer a local café instead. No matter where you choose to work, make it a designated environment where you feel most dynamic and focused on the task at hand — not addressing items on your personal to-do list.
During work hours, your home is your office, so treat it as such. Consider selecting a specific spot – like your guest bedroom – and turning it into your home office. Keeping your “office” space separate from your home life as much as possible should help to improve your concentration.
Because you don’t work in an office setting, it can be more difficult to stay on task. Find an organizational and scheduling system that is easy for you. This means anything from an app to good old-fashioned pen-to-paper lists. Schedule each successive workweek on the Friday before, with your priorities for each day, so on Monday you know exactly what to tackle first. Of course, your priorities may change as tasks arise, but this can help you prepare for the week ahead. It may also help to make your weekend-to-weekday transition smoother.
While it goes without saying to keep your phone at bay during work hours (save for business-related calls or messages), there are other items to consider removing from your workspace. For example, if you love having a certain talk show on in the background, but you find yourself getting sucked in, turn it off.
Other activities like paying bills and scheduling appointments might seem like good excuses to take a break, but these happenings can take up a lot of time. So, tackle your personal to-do list outside of business hours.
While wearing PJs was mentioned, you may feel most productive if you are dressed for the day. Though you don’t need to wear dressy clothing, try taking a shower, doing your hair and putting on clothes you enjoy wearing, even if you don’t have to leave the house for the whole day.
While the majority of this article has been in favor of eliminating distractions, a 10 to 15 minute break here or there is recommended whether you work in the office or from home. Everybody gets burned out, and a great way to get creative juices flowing again is to take a walk. A stroll can boost creativity up to 60 percent, according to Stanford Researchers. A quick jaunt around the block or to the mailbox, feeling the afternoon sun on your skin, or breathing in the fresh air might be all you need to finish that critical project or to get a second wind.
Another fun way to revitalize your body and mind is through micro-breaks. Even when you work remotely, it’s important to schedule your regular physical activity. In fact, it may be easier to be a little more active when you work from home. Try jumping rope for 30 seconds, holding a plank pose, lifting weights or doing stretches while listening to a meeting.
One of the most common complaints people who work remotely have is loneliness. Without the hustle and bustle of an office setting and chats during coffee breaks, it can be easy to feel isolated. Sure, you may get your work done faster, but you also might get stir-crazy. There’s a trade-off for everything. If that’s the case, schedule dinner with friends or family a few nights during the week to get face-to-face time with people you care about or consider participating in a group workout class over your lunch break a few days per week.
Working from home isn’t for everybody, but when done right you could enhance your career and help save your company money.