Working from home, what could be better? Anybody can do it, right? Well, not quite. Although there are many advantages to working from home there are just as many obstacles. I would even argue that the challenges are sometimes greater than those encountered at a “regular” office job. The advantages we receive in our work-from-home positions are the very things that can become detrimental to our success. Luckily for those of us who have opted to venture down this path that offers flexibility as well as autonomy there are a few simple strategies that can help us become more successful in our roles.
Here are a few solutions to keep advantages from becoming disadvantages: #1 Advantage: Working from home allows you to skip the daily commute. Obstacle: It can open the door for an abundance of distractions throughout your day. Solution: Create a dedicated workspace. This space should be free from distraction and your family and other household members should know it is off-limits. This means after you pick the kids up from school they know if you are in your workspace that means you have invoked a Do Not Disturb Policy.Advantage: Working from home offers flexibility in your schedule.
#2 Obstacle: This can lead to inefficiency as you have the freedom to abandon a task as quickly as you picked it up. Solution: Make a schedule and stick to it. For instance, your schedule can be varied, so be mindful of your schedule for the week before you plan out your day. Then, you can plan around appointments and errands as you schedule your work calendar so you can still benefit from the flexibility of your job. You will accomplish so much more in your day if you are realistic about the time you need to complete your work and honest with yourself about any and all time you will devote to your home life during your work day.
#3 Advantage: You can schedule your assignments any way you please. Obstacle: Sometimes we throw tasks we don’t like on the back-burner. Solution: Start your day with your least favorite task. We tend to procrastinate on things we don’t like to do. You may be tempted to save the task for last without someone else to manage your day. But, what happens? You spend all your time on your other work and then something comes up, so you push it off to the next day. It’s on your schedule for the next day, but where does it go? It goes to the end of the day, right? The better approach is to get it completed first and you will have the rest of the day to prioritize as you wish.
#4 Advantage: Your boss isn’t looking over your shoulder all day trying to track your progress. Obstacle: Sometimes that pressure actually drives us to do a better job and without that pressure, we can become complacent. Solution: Set challenging, yet attainable goals. This gives purpose to your day. Next, have an idea of what you want to achieve, but make it doable. If you set unrealistic goals, you will just frustrate yourself and feel like you’ve failed from day to day. The key is to give yourself the drive needed so that you will push yourself to reach your goal and feel a sense of accomplishment by the end of your day.
#5 Advantage: Your boss isn’t looking over your shoulder all day trying to track your progress (Same advantage, different obstacle). Obstacle: It becomes very easy to “call it in” so to speak. When you aren’t feeling well or are just “not in the mood” to work, it’s easy to put in minimal effort and act as though you were putting in 100%. Solution: Find an accountability partner. It doesn’t have to be somebody from work. It could be your spouse, a friend, a co-worker, or even your child (my daughter is my accountability partner; I hold her accountable for her actions and progress at school and she holds me accountable for my work day). This will help you keep yourself on task and be more efficient in your role as a work-from-home employee. Let’s face it, we all need to be held accountable sometimes.
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I hope this is useful to those of you who are currently working from home and to those thinking about taking an at-home position. As I stated earlier, although it seems like it would be a good fit for all, it just simply is not for some. If you are interested in learning more about working from home, please check out our career page at http://www.milrichvirtualprofessionals.com/careers/