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How to Make Working From Home Actually Work

POSTED ON 
June 19, 2017

“I would never get anything done.” “I would stay in my pajamas all day.” “I would sleep in every day.”

These are the common responses I receive when I tell people I’ve worked from home for the past four years. Working remotely can be a controversial topic, as evidenced by instances of companies cracking down on workers who telecommute (see: IBM and Yahoo). Reasons for eliminating “WFH,” as I like to call it, appears to stem from the belief that teams occupying the same physical space exhibit greater creativity as well as improved communication and collaboration.

I understand these concerns, but I don’t completely buy in. I also don’t think there’s a wrong or right stance. I do know that I’m a bigger believer in the value that WFH brings to employees and therefore, their contributions to the companies they represent.

Today in the U.S., 37% of workers telecommute. That’s a staggering jump from a mere 9% in 1995. With this continued rise, it’s likely you may become a remote worker at some point, if you haven’t already. 

Below is a roundup of productivity tips and tricks I’ve found to be useful in my short tenure of WFH, along with advice culled from various sources. What else would you add?

1. Seize the early mornings and make them work to your advantage

By shaving off a commute, you immediately get a good chunk of time back in your morning. I love waking up early, watching the news and then diving into emails or projects before most people are at their desks. I feel in control of my day and accomplish so much during these early hours. I also do my best writing before 9:00am.

2. No pajamas allowed

Yes, I’ve been guilty. But I find myself to be most productive when I change into regular clothes. Nothing makes you feel less professional than wearing flannel pants.

3. Leverage collaborative tools and platforms

Being a remote worker forces you to heavily rely on the phone, email and tools like Slack or Gchat to collaborate with your colleagues, clients, etc. I’ve cultivated great relationships over such channels. Determine what tools work best for you and your work, and make them part of your daily routine.

4. Don’t be a hermit

The beauty of WFH is your quiet space. When I worked at a large office with cubicles, I was often distracted by other colleagues or office happenings. But while having a quiet zone is nice, I don’t suggest working in solitude all the time. Seek out a co-working space or even a coffee shop to break up your day. Feeling the energy of other people is inspiring and sometimes that’s when the good ideas strike.

5. Draw the line

When your office is in your home, it can be challenging to turn off at night. Avoid burnout and prioritize your wellness. Unless I am making up for hours earlier in the day or crunching on a project, I try to shut down at a normal hour each night and go to the gym. I won’t pick back up until the (early) morning.

6. Have a work space

It sounds obvious, but invest in a comfortable desk and chair. Working from the couch is not sustainable. I repeat, not sustainable. (And it won’t help you avoid carpal tunnel.)

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Becky Sennett
SENIOR STRATEGIST

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