Blueprint for WFH Success
Now that we have identified some of the problems and challenges let’s talk about solutions to achieve work-from-home success.
Each individual working from home will have different characteristics. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others feel most productive at night. Some people need silence to concentrate, while others enjoy working with background noise.
What is important is that you identify your needs and preferences and then create an environment that enables you to work successfully from home by taking several simple steps.
We will also need to create boundaries between work and the rest of our lives. Working from home, you can quickly get so immersed in your job that you lose track of time. Creating boundaries will benefit your employee’s mental, physical, and emotional health. This will lead to increased productivity.
To help you achieve work-from-home success, we have created a step-by-step blueprint that will guide you along the way.
1. Know the Ground Rules (what your employer requires/expects)
Firstly, it is essential to know what your employer expects of you working from home. When you know the ground rules, you are more likely to be successful. Some employers may or may not have a problem with employees working from home. However, some employers may not approve of WFH and are only doing it out of necessity, so you’ll maybe need to tread more carefully.
Some employers may have policies that must be followed, such as a particular dress code or time spent at the company business office (this is most common at senior levels). You must follow these rules so that management can trust you with the work from home privilege. If your employer has a written policy for telecommuters, I suggest that you read it carefully and follow it to the letter.
Others may not have a policy, but they may have a preference or requirements that will make your work environment more successful and productive. For example, if your employer prefers to work in the office, they may want you to be there at least one day per week.
If your employer does not have any policies or preferences, it is up to you to make sure that you don’t get carried away and spend all of your time working from home. Post Covid a lot of companies are going with Hybrid models and so the important thing is to be conscious and aware of your employer’s stance.
2. Design Your Workspace (Better Gear)
You no longer have an allocated space like you do in an office, where you sit in the same seat and work at the same desk every day just like everyone else. Working from home means you have to get creative with your workspace.
Wherever you choose to set up your office, make sure it fits your personality and brand. If you’re a photographer, maybe you have a home studio. If you’re a writer, maybe your office is in the corner of your dining room. The point is, make sure you love where you work and it fits with your professional brand.
Designing your workspace is more than just picking the right desk or chair. You’ll need to create a space that reflects your professional brand, and that inspires you to work hard and be productive.
But a good place to start is by picking the right gear. You might start with your desk, a comfortable chair, and a great computer/monitor setup. Our editorial team have gone to great lengths to create a set of buyer guides for the key components of a home office.
Try to find a space where you can separate yourself from the rest of the house. Working from home can mean you’re never truly ‘off duty’ so having a dedicated space which you leave when work is finished can alleviate this issue.
3. Create Work Boundaries
Many people who work from home get so caught up in the work that they don’t take time off to do things with friends and family. It’s easy for a home worker to get sucked into doing work because the office is so close by. That’s why it’s important to create boundaries for yourself.
Having boundaries will help you set the expectation that you are working and that you need to be left alone. If you’re in a shared office, set your boundaries by telling everyone else that you need to focus for a few hours and will be available later if they have questions or need help.
A great way to create boundaries is to create a schedule for yourself (so important we’ve discussed below). You can schedule your work and the time you have to do work. This way, you can set aside specific time for work and specific time to do things with friends or family.
Also, boundaries will help you to prevent burn out. When you’re working from home, you’re susceptible to burn out since you’re not around other people who can help you to get away from it all.
4. Set and Follow a Schedule
Unlike in an office environment where there are environmental cues and peer pressure that keep you on the clock, you are in charge of your own time and environment when working from home. Therefore, you should be disciplined in setting a schedule that works for you to get the job done. You should also stick to it!
At home, you have fewer of the environmental cues that keep you on track. Often, people feel like they can work when they “feel” like it. Done this way, you end up working in spurts and not getting much done. Instead, set a schedule to follow and stick to it until the job is done or you are satisfied with your progress.
Setting a schedule for everyone is different. Some people are more disciplined than others. It is important to realize that working from home is the perfect environment to get the job done quickly. You don’t have employer time limits or vacations to worry about.
You will have to get started by setting deadlines for yourself. Make sure that you get your work done by the time that you set for yourself. Keep in mind that your schedule should be realistic. Don’t set it up to be a challenge that you will fail.
Sometimes it is hard to keep on schedule, especially when you are working on a big project or working with people who are uncooperative. In this instance, you have the option of breaking your schedule down into sections and working on one section at a time. This way, you will get something done every day and still stick to your plan.
When you are working from home, it is easy to put off the work that needs to be done and play around with other things instead. For this reason, it is important that you allow yourself breaks, but stick around the office or your home office as much as possible. Remember that when you leave your work unattended, not only does it become more difficult for you to get back to it but also the quality of your work suffers greatly!
5. Motivate Yourself (Better Mindset)
Sometimes working from home can be isolating and somewhat boring. Because you are not surrounded by your co-workers, it can be easy to feel like you are in a rut. However, it is important to get out of that rut and work on motivating yourself. Below are some tips:
- Dress the part. Even if you are working from home, you need to be professional. Wear a nice pair of jeans or fun slacks, and a nice top. You can mix it up with some nice shoes, or fun socks. This also helps you not to get too comfortable so that you won’t end up gravitating to the comfort of your bed when you feel tired during the day.
- Work on your mindset. In particular, creating accountability for yourself when working from home. The easiest way to do this is to get a co-worker, or someone you trust, to be your accountability partner. This person can be someone who works in the same field, or a friend you trust to hold you accountable. This gives you an extra support system during your day when you feel unproductive.
- Set a goal. This can be a goal for the end of the month, or even a milestone for the year. Working towards this will give you motivation to work hard during your day, and also give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete your goals.
6. How to Stay Productive (Better Productivity)
After some time, you may start to get a little less productive. Sometimes this can come in the form of lethargy or procrastination. It’s perfectly normal for most people, but you can fight it with these simple tips.
- Keep your workspace clean and organized. This will keep your mind free from clutter and allow you to focus better.
- Have a comfortable desk. This can help you from feeling lethargic and make it easier to sit at your desk for long periods of time. Find a desk that is ergonomic, since this can help relieve pressure on your body while standing or sitting at your desk.
- Working in short bursts with breaks in between. This will allow you to work hard and maximize productivity during the day and give you a change of pace as well.
- Minimize the distractions in your environment. This is especially important when you are working from home. Using a tool to block certain sites on the internet, such as social media and email during certain times of the day is a great way to stay focused during your workday, and it may even help you push through the procrastination.
7. Communicate Like Never Before
You need to make sure that you are set up with the right communication tools at home. This will ensure that you are able to communicate with your team members and clients as easily as possible. Since most meetings will be virtual, having a good high-speed internet connection is a must. If you don’t have a great internet, set up video calls with your clients. Ensure that you also invest in a good microphone and headphone set to improve your audio quality. Choose a headset that has noise cancelling capabilities to ensure that you are heard clearly.
Here are the most common software and tools:
This is the most common software used to run virtual meetings. You can download this software from the Zoom website. This application will allow you to have video calls, share screens, and record your calls. The recording feature is one of the best features because it allows you to record your call and then share it with other team members or clients.
This tool is another great communication tool that will allow you to run meetings online. It is a great tool for video calling and screen sharing because its interface is easy to use and very user-friendly. This is a great alternative to Skype because it also offers screen sharing and also video calls.
This is a great tool that will allow you to organize your team and also run your meetings. The Microsoft Teams application will help you to have real-time communication with your team members. It is also very easy to use and intuitive, which means that even if you are not tech-savvy, you can still use it easily.
This is another communication tool that will allow you to share files and also conduct meetings online. The best thing about Slack is that it is very simple to use. This means that you can use it even if you are not tech-savvy.
This is another great communication tool that will allow you to organize your team and also run virtual meetings. The Google Docs application will help you to have real-time communication with your team members. It is also very easy to use and intuitive, which means that even if you are not tech-savvy, you can still use it easily.
In addition to having the right gear, you should also start talking with your team more frequently online to ensure that your relationships are strong. This will make it easier to work together and develop a schedule that works for everyone. The elements that make a team’s spirit strong are different when working in the office vs. working from home. It’s even more critical to have a strong team in place when working from home to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
8. Hold Effective Meetings
The importance of holding effective meetings when working from home cannot be stressed enough. Everyone knows that there are limitations given the nature of virtual meetings. An effective meeting online is dependent on the level of preparation, engagement of participants and how well the agenda is set.
As an employee or employer working from home, you should set aside time to make sure that you are prepared for all types of meetings. It’s important to set an agenda that everyone can follow and to make sure that all participants have access to the necessary information.
It’s also important to set the duration of each online meeting so that it doesn’t make the workday longer than what is necessary, and to set a buffer time to resolve any technical issues or to address any issues that may arise during the meeting. As a rule of thumb, you should set the duration of online meetings unconventionally, such as setting the meeting duration to 50 minutes, from an hour – or 20 minutes, from 30 minutes.
Another thing to keep in mind when working from home is to not let your computer or any other device become the focus of the meeting. The same rule applies for people who have dual monitors or are primarily using a laptop for their work. It’s important to keep your focus on the discussion at hand and make sure that you don’t get distracted by other things in your environment.
Finally, it’s important to make sure that you practice good online etiquettes. Ensure that you mute your microphone when it’s not your turn to speak and that you don’t type unnecessary or distracting things when it’s not your turn to contribute. Ensure that your environment at home is free of noise and distractions that will make it hard for you to focus on the discussion. It’s also important not to interrupt the speaker or to jump in before the speaker is done and provide feedback or suggestions.
9. Be Visible and Make Yourself Known
During online team meetings, keep your camera on to appear engaged. Videoconferencing allows you to share your screen and/or show others what you’re doing.
If you’re working on a project and need help from someone else in the room, let them know so they can see what’s happening. If you’re having trouble with a problem or are looking for feedback on how to proceed, ask for help. This will make people feel like they are in the room with you and give them a chance to jump in and take part. This will also help build trust if they know that if something is going wrong that they will have an opportunity to jump in and help out.
I’ve found that this doesn’t just apply when you’re collaborating with others, but also when you’re working solo. If you’re stuck, take a moment to explain your thought process and the problem you’re having. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but it becomes second nature and will provide you with great feedback and input from your teammates.
10. Switching Off Means Switching Off
It is very important to set boundaries with your work. When it’s time to work, you work, and when it’s time to play, you play. That may sound obvious to you, but some people find that easier said than done especially when there is no longer the divide in the environment between work and home.
It’s not a crime to check your phone or computer, but it is a crime to check them all the time. If you need to know what’s going on back at the office, don’t let it interfere with you doing your job. If you find that you are getting distracted by other things, turn off as many notifications as possible or remove yourself from the situation entirely.