Last week, I heard from a newly minted college graduate. She is very excited to start her first professional position with a national company, working from home.
Hmmm… “Working From Home”. A quick glance at wikipedia revealed related terms like “telecommuting”, “remote work” or “teleworking”. This is a growing trend, with many of us working at least some of the time from non-traditional work space.
According to this recent New York Times article, “More American employees are working remotely, and they are doing so for longer periods… Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults.”
With this conversation in mind and National Clean Off Your Desk Day (second Monday of January) here again, let’s talk about Organizing Your Work Space for Working-From-Home. Let’s look at solutions to common Work-From-Home Challenges!
Be Professional and Productive While Working From Home
There are habits we can create to feel professional and productive, no matter where we work.
- Create a morning routine – get up, work out, eat a healthy breakfast, get clean, etc. – even if your commute is the 10 feet between your living room and office.
- We all benefit from the clear definition of a start and end to our work day. If you need separation in your day between personal time and work, go for a run, for Mass, for coffee, or to drop off the kids at school. Then, come home and boot up!
- Dress professionally, even if you don’t see another person all day. No PJs for productivity!
- We need to minimize distractions (more on this later) working from home, but the opposite is also true. Remember to walk around and take breaks!
- A common challenge of working from home is feeling isolated. Remember, Community comes in many forms.
- Check with your company! If your company has teleworking opportunities, they probably also have strategies in place to help employees stay connected.
- Find a mentor or accountability partner within your company. You can also ask the professional association attached to your industry, or even just someone you really respect.
- Join networking or FB groups within your chosen field or geographical community. My FB and networking groups are amazing resources for me as I navigate my day!
- If you are clear on the Work of your Work, you can probably work from anywhere!
- No one needs to know where you work! Some days saying “working from home” doesn’t feel professional, so I might say I’m working “remotely” or “virtually”, whether I’m at a client’s office, my own home office or Starbucks!
- Your Actual Work Space:
- If you skype, or have video conference calls, invest in a back drop or standing screen that looks more professional than your family room or basement!
- Organize your work space, especially if you need to switch from student focus to work focus, like my young friend. A clean desk helps you focus. My accountability partner mentioned just last week how much more creative she feels when her work space is organized and clutter free.
- Need Professional Space for a change of pace or a group project? Perhaps your team is coming into town for training? Many communities have available shared professional spaces or business centers. For a fee, these centers may offer work spaces, office services such as copiers or fax machines, conference rooms to rent by the hour or day, and even administrative help. For example, I am a member of BAPA here on the South Side of Chicago, and their business center offers office equipment and conference room space free to paid members.
The “Home” part of Working-From-Home
- Be clear with your house-mates what your tele-working will mean. You may be home but still on the clock! (The same goes for pets – one client closes the door and curtains to the back yard, to signal to her faithful furry companions that play time is over!)
- A closed door can be an arranged signal that quiet time is needed, or that a conference call is in progress!
Consider these ideas when creating your productive work-from-home space!