I’m sitting at my desk this morning watching the snow fall, for what seems like the thousandth time over this very long winter. The reaction to the snow from friends on Facebook today is a mix of excitement and disappointment. Most are understandably anxious at the thought of having to head out to brave the icy northern New Jersey roads to get to work. I am one of the fortunate, tapping away from the warmth and comfort of my home office. Or as my family likes to call it, the living room. No loss of productivity for me today. And thanks to technology, no time wasted on a long, scary commute. This is true for me on a daily basis. But I also know that working from home is not without its challenges. A relative newbie to this remote-access world, I’ve learned some valuable lessons.
- Work a schedule. Don’t let your schedule work you. Time can really get away from you when you work alone, if you’re not careful. I have created a regular, day-in-the-life-of-me, schedule to help me maintain productivity and ensure that I work a regular day. When I first started, and sometimes I can still do this, I just don’t stop. Now, sometimes that’s the benefit of a remote work opportunity. Take last night. I had an idea, so I worked on it for a few hours after dinner. In the past, that might have meant jotting down some notes and possibly losing the momentum of my awesome idea! A work/life balance is really important. Don’t let your workload determine your schedule.
- Distractions are a blessing and a curse. We’ve all been on both sides of co-worker distractions in the office. Pop your head into someone’s office to ask about the weekend. Chat about the game at the coffee maker. Hey, water cooler conversations are real and very necessary to help break up the day. At home, the cat isn’t really interested in my reaction to the mid-season premiere of Marvel’s Agents of Shield (she’s sort of stuck up anyway). Thanks to technology, conversations held over Microsoft Lync or Citrix GoToMeeting, can sometimes feel like we’re talking through cubicle walls. The difference is, in a remote situation I have greater control over these distractions. A story on the news yesterday, talked about how to politely avoid productivity-sapping distractions from co-workers. Never an issue when you work remotely. Simply change your Lync chat status and get to work.
- You’ve got to move it, move it. Seriously. I just got a fitness band and have it set to vibrate when I’ve been still too long. Well, if the ever rising number on the scale isn’t enough to tell you to get up, having your wrist vibrate every hour surely must be. Think about it. You’re not moving as much when you work remotely. You’re not walking to the car/train/bus. Or walking from the car to the office. Back to the car (more than one or twice a day if you leave the office for lunch or appointments). And then again from the car to the house. Now, you’re walking from room to room and probably not that often. Make time to move more. Hit the gym in the morning, take a walk at lunch, or schedule more play time with your family. I promise, when this snow finally melts, this fitness band will vibrate no more!
Of course, never stop learning and improving your situation. I could tell you about how quickly my kids learned to stop speaking when the office phone rings. Or how I always win the battle for the WiFi signal on a snow/vacation day. You could help me figure out how to keep the cat off my desk. Maybe another time. I will tell you that one more blessing/curse to working from home means that while I was able to get an early start this morning, I now have time to shovel once the snow finally stops. At least that fitness band can’t complain.
What have you learned working from home? Share your tips and lessons below. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about how to virtualize your workforce the way Custom Systems has, we’d love to hear from you!
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