Work From Home Survival Tips Because, Let’s Face It, You’re Gonna Be Working From Home
There’s been a lot more talk lately about the future of work, and how the opportunity to work from home will be there for many of us. If you’re a student, you already sort of know what it’s like from online classes and the whole COVID experience of the last two years.
Still, being employed and working from home is a little different. It helps to have a set of survival skills to make sure you stay on the right track. We’ll get to those in a moment. First, however, let’s take a moment to look at the likelihood of a work from home job in your future.
The Future Is Work From Home
How likely is it that you will end up working from home during your career? If the last two years are any indication, highly likely! That’s because corporations have gotten a taste of what it can mean to their bottom lines. That’s true for small and medium-sized businesses as well.
See, when you work from home, you don’t have to occupy office space that they pay for. Companies looking to slash expenses and raise profit margins can reduce the size of their physical footprint as a result. They can also become more environmentally responsible in doing so.
While there will always be some jobs that are not practical for the work-from-home format, technology enables most of us to do it just fine. In fact, many cases show that we get more done from home-based locations. It’s also a help to the local economy because you end up spending more money at restaurants and coffee shops.
To do it right, though, you’re going to need a game plan. That’s where these tips come in really handy.
Find Designated Spaces
You’ve chosen your work-from-home location. You’ve got your cup of coffee, the right temperature, a comfortable chair. You’re ready to rock. Then, you try to check your email but are met with the dreaded 404 error. Worse, the Internet is working but only at a crawl. It takes several minutes to navigate to all the virtual locations that you need.
Nothing kills your will to work from home faster than an unreliable Wi-Fi network. That’s why you need to ensure the one at your house is top-notch and secure from hackers. If you prefer to work out of the house (but not at the office), then choose external sites where the Internet is dependable and can handle whatever bandwidth you need so you’re unlimited in the tasks you can accomplish.
Last but not least, whether working from home or a coffee shop or a public library, choose places that are energizing and comfortable. Aside from Wi-Fi, find locations where you can get up and move around. That way, you’re not sitting all day and risking your health.
Get Good Equipment
It’s not always possible to afford an Apple or a top-of-the-line gaming computer. Luckily, you don’t need all that to work from home effectively. Going for computers from brands like Asus or Lenovo gives you access to higher specs at a lower price. They may have more security vulnerabilities and bugs here and there, but it’s nothing that you can’t solve with a reliable virus protection software and some basic troubleshooting (i.e., don’t click on things from sources you’re not familiar with).
Also, if you need a good printer, invest in something affordable. Black-and-white will handle most requirements effectively. Use color sparingly. Or, try to handle everything through scan-and-sign apps.
Once you’ve got the right equipment in place, it’s time to look for the workflow checklist. What are the apps and programs that you’re going to need to effectively do your job? If there is anything proprietary, your job’s tech support will make sure you have access to it (think VMware). Anything else you prefer that doesn’t come built into your computer, see if work won’t cover it for you or buy it yourself and take it as a tax deduction.
Own Your Headspace
Your boss can have a heavy influence over how effective working from home is. If they give you long leash, then it will be more enjoyable and less burdensome. If not, there are still things you can do to ensure that work doesn’t take over your life.
Some jobs require you to be at your computer for regular office hours, whatever those are. Cloud-based programs, however, make it easier to untether. You can log in on all of the hardware (computer, phone, tablet) and access what you need when you need it instead of monitoring 8-10 hours nonstop.
Setting the proper notifications gives you the chance to break free when you need to. Do what you have to do but set aside time when it will be understood that you’re disconnected. Getting those expectations in early will ensure your boss(es) don’t try to claim more than their fair share.
Not used to working from home? It’s really not that difficult. You can even adopt practices with which you’re already familiar to ensure a smoother transition. We all have our little rituals to get ourselves going. Come up with some of your own.
That could mean checking horoscopes, updating your watchlists, taking any prescribed medications, drinking a few cups of water, or recalculating your daily expenses. The rituals do not have to be work-related as long as they move you into the mindset of being focused and available.
What are some things you do to get going? Physically fit folks tend to do their stretches before a workout. Well, take a page from their books. Come up with some mental stretches that get you ready for the day ahead.
Find Ways to ‘Fool’ Your Bosses
We’ve touched on some of the “tricks” that we use already, but this section is too important to be considered an afterthought or addendum to something else. You need to find ways to “fool” your bosses into thinking that you’re working hard all the time. Doing so will give you a certain degree of autonomy whenever you need it. Here are some suggestions that have really helped out over the years.
- Being present digitally (logged in on all apps and hardware)
- Keeping bosses off-balance by taking some type of work action outside of company hours
- Setting a one-hour rule for responding (as in, you don’t let an hour pass before responding to something)
This “always present” mentality might seem exhausting but not when you understand what it means for the rest of your time. Think about it. It takes only 10-15 minutes to respond to something. Say your boss makes 3-5 “intrusions” on you per day.
That’s no more than 75 minutes of your 480-minute day. The remaining 405 is yours to use however you want outside of any other obligations that arise that are not “boss-related.” That doesn’t mean you goof off for those 405 minutes. It just means you use them in the way that you deem the most effective to your work-life balance.
Take Advantage of Earning and Learning Opportunities
So, what do you do with that remaining time? Keep in mind the 405 minutes that you have left isn’t all the time you have. It’s just all the work time. There are actually 10,080 minutes in a week. Assuming you sleep eight hours per day, it leaves you with 6,205 after taking out boss-time.
That’s a lot of time to explore side gigs or other ways to make money. It’s also a lot of time to expand your skill set. This will add to your marketability. Adding to your marketability ensures that you don’t get trapped under any glass ceilings so that you can continue to expand your earning potential.
Take advantage of all your earning and learning opportunities. It may require extra planning, but it will be worth it as you work your way up the corporate or professional ladder.
Tether Yourself to ‘The Real World’
Fan of The Real World TV show (which is nothing like the real world)? You’re going to be disappointed because that’s not what we mean at all. No, we mean the actual flesh-and-blood real world where you interact with people and do stuff outside the house, apartment, or dorm room.
Why is it important to tether yourself to the real world? That’s something introverts have been asking themselves for quite some time. The truth is it helps no matter which of the two personality types you fall under.
We spend so much of our lives at work. It’s where most of our face-to-face social interactions happen. But if you go to a complete work-from-home status, then you will become dependent on screens for interaction. That’s not healthy, and it will cause you to more quickly burn out from the telecommuting experience.
You can restore a sense of balance to your life by making sure you schedule time outside the house. That could come in the form of more time with friends or by picking up a part-time job. Whatever you prefer, make sure that it’s there to remind you how great working from home can be.
Work From Home Is Still Work, But It Can Be Fun
The one mistake you don’t want to make when you get the chance to work from home is to think that it’s not work. You should still treat your newfound privilege as a responsibility that you need to tend to. Handling it irresponsibly can run the risk of losing it.
As long as you employ the survival tips we’ve mentioned above, you’ll be able to make the most of it while carving out plenty of time for yourself. And with more schools going virtual, you can get a taste of what it’s like now if you haven’t already. What are some “work from home” tips that have helped you? Share in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Wikimedia Commons]