According to Global Workplace Analytics, 3.7 million employees (nearly 3 percent of the workforce) now work from home at least half of the time, and each year this figure rises.
Whether you’re a perennial traveler, a working mother, someone trying to achieve greater work-life balance or someone who simply hates sitting in commuter traffic, working from home definitely has its perks. For one thing, telecommuters save 260 hours each year by not commuting on a daily basis—practically enough time to watch the entire series “Friends.”
But making the transition from a more structured work environment to a home office requires quite a bit of adjustment. If you are considering trading in the highway for the telecommute, here are a few rules to live by.
Dedicate a work space
Your home environment comes with a few built-in distractions— household chores, the television, neighbors, roommates, pets, kids, you name it. Your work space should put as much distance between you and these distractors as possible and, ideally, a door.
If you are the sort of person who prefers working from a noisy café with lots of people and background noise, fine. But you should still have a place of refuge for when the café’s internet goes down or when you need to take an important business call—working remotely often comes with a substantial increase in calls.
Invest in your comfort
Comfort is also of paramount importance: invest in a comfortable chair, a good desk and a good computer. Working on your laptop at the kitchen table will soon put a kink in your neck, your back and everywhere else—trust me.
Establish a routine
Fundamental to your working-from-home success is your ability to establish and maintain a routine.
Start with a consistent wake-up time and get to your desk to begin work at the same time every day. It’s not a bad idea to keep your lunch time consistent, too, and—most importantly—try to be consistent about when you log off each day. If you don’t, you will easily fall into one of the classic pitfalls of working from home: working around the clock.
Stay focused and organized
In a virtual environment, it is all too easy to slack off or push things back on your to-do list as there is no one (besides yourself) physically holding you accountable. Make a to-do list at the top of each day and stick to it. If you find your attention drifting, take a 10- or 15-minute break and then get back to it.
Utilize video calls when possible
As liberating as it is, working from home can also be lonely.
Luckily, modern technology makes face time easy, even when your clients and co-workers are hundreds or thousands of miles away. Schedule weekly—or even daily—video calls so that you aren’t locked for weeks on end in a people-less void.
Bonus! It will remind you to shower and give you an excuse to change out of those PJs.