Working from home has its pros and cons. While you can cozy up in your PJs, take the kids to school, and go on errands without driving yourself crazy with traffic or dressing up, it may not be all sunshine and rainbows.
Working from home requires discipline, routine, and personal accountability. You have abundant free time without coworkers to keep you accountable during work hours and a boss to give you assignments. And as any remote worker will tell you, that's where things get tricky.
Working from home may not work for everyone at first. You need to procure the right skills and habits to make remote work function properly and benefit you. Here are some essential practices for people who work remotely.
Know your working habits and limitations.
For some remote workers, the lack of in-person interaction and socialization can be a significant downside to the job. In working remotely, you must be extra diligent about setting your work patterns and sticking to them to leave time for socializing and hobbies.
You'll have to have self-discipline you likely didn't need when you were in an office with coworkers. It's easy to lose track of time when you're not in an office and have few external reminders of any looming deadlines or time constraints. Be diligent in setting internal reminders.
Set boundaries and stick to them.
Anyone working remotely knows the temptation to overextend yourself and work beyond what's healthy just because you're at home and could smoothly work long hours. But you have to remember that it's crucial to maintain a work-life balance. You may work long hours one day and few the next, but this is not sustainable in the long run. If you have difficulty with time management, you can read our article on how to improve it here.
In a way, you're your boss now, since you don't have anyone hovering over you or assigning you tasks. Bosses have to set boundaries and work within the confines of their limitations. There's no HR department to go with when you need more vacation time. No one can tell you to scale back when you know you've overcommitted yourself. You'll need to be your boss and set the rules for yourself and your work life.
Plan for distractions.
As we mentioned, distractions can be a significant hindrance to remote workers who don't have the rigid structure of an office to keep them on track. Luckily, there are a few ways to plan for those distractions.
You can start by creating a space where you can work. While you might be able to work from wherever you want, it's helpful to have an area dedicated to your work. Your workspace can be a separate quiet, distraction-free room or a corner in your home that's set aside for work.
You might also want to consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Not only are they helpful for tuning out distractions, but they're also great for blocking out sound in your home that can otherwise be so distracting — like the sound of kids playing or your neighbors doing yard work.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Some people who work remotely are highly independent, but you should never be afraid to ask for help when needed. It's important to remember to maintain active relationships with your friends and family.
Remote workers who rely on technology, spend hours and hours a day in front of a screen, and only interact with their coworkers online via email can get disconnected from the outside world.
Don't forget to find time for friends and family — not just for birthdays and special occasions, but for coffee dates, trips to the movies, and other activities that may not be on your calendar because they're not part of your work life.
Take care of your physical well-being.
You might have been able to get by with just your computer, a cup of coffee, and a donut at the office. But if you work remotely, you'll have to take steps to make sure you're taking care of your physical well-being.
Make sure you have a healthy diet but don't forget to include regular exercise and breaks in your work schedule. You might be able to get away with working 10 hours straight when you're in the office, but you'll likely need to take regular breaks at home.
It's also important to remember to take care of yourself emotionally. As a remote worker, you don't have coworkers around to help you when you're having rough days or dealing with personal issues. You may want to consider finding a therapist or joining an online support group to help you work through those issues when they arise.
It's not always easy to make work from home function for you, but you can achieve it — if you're willing to put in the effort and dedicate yourself to your success. Although it may not be easy at first, remote work's benefits are definitely worth the adjustment. With the proper habits and skills, remote work can offer a fantastic life-work balance and give you more time in your day to do the things you enjoy.
If you're a remote worker looking for a new position or better benefits than freelance offers, you should check out our job openings at capitaworks.com/jobs and send your resumé to firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer remote positions as virtual assistants for US companies. If you'd like to know more about what it's like to become a VA, read this article.