Four years ago I transitioned from working in an office to working from home 100% of the time. Being the extrovert that I am, the transition was very scary for me. Sure, I couldn’t wait to get rid of my two hour daily commute in Atlanta traffic, but I knew I would miss the in-person meetings, getting recaps of peoples weekends, and the lunches at trendy Atlanta dining spots. I was nervous that without being within hearing distance of daily conversations I wouldn’t have a pulse on everyone’s challenges and responsibilities. And, at the time, I didn’t have the twins running around like little minons filling the house with laughter (and whines), so the whole idea sounded very lonely.
I took the dip, and for the past few years I’ve only been in an office about once a month when I travel to headquarters. The trips to headquarters are a desired respite; I soak in the time to myself and away form home responsibilities. But, since I work from home the majority of the time, I have developed tools and tasks that help me stay focused, energized, and engaged with my colleagues, literally, across the country in California. If you’re thinking about working from home or just in a rut working from home in your current position, I hope these tips and tricks help you out.
1.Treat your office hours like corporate office hours
I have kept my routine very similar working from home to when I was in an office. When I was working in an office, I would get up in the morning for a workout. Since I’ve started working from home, I still get up with the same intention – to get my day started on the right foot with some endorphins. I still get up at 5:30 AM for these workouts, and I still get to work in my home office at 9 AM (most days). I try my very best to stop around 5 PM too. The hours that I no longer have dedicated to a commute, I use instead to pick up the house, spend time with the girls, make breakfast for my husband, or blog!
2. Schedule meetings, and use video chat
I am not a meeting junkie, I swear! I don’t think you have to set time aside for every little discussion, but I think meeting on a routine basis to review major projects and catch up with direct reports is critical. And, I’m not super tech savvy, but I think hosting these meeting with some sort of video software (Zoom, Skype, Goggle Chat, etc) helps to maintain relationships when your operating remotely. Face-to-face meetings are highly effective, and this is an excellent way to have one without paying for a flight!
3. Take breaks
When I was working in an office, I took breaks, and I do the same at home! In the office, breaks usually consisted of catching up with someone for 15 minutes or grabbing a 2nd morning coffee. Since working from home, I usually take these breaks to give my kids some kisses and just see what they are up to. I know not all companies allow childcare in the home while you work from home, but I am very grateful mine does! I absolutely treasure having my kids so close! When I’m feeling extra ambitious, I’ll fold laundry or put some laundry away.
4. When you need a change, change your space
Go to Starbucks or your favorite local coffee spot. Or, just change your location in your office or house. I have been working on changing up my office space, and added a seating area for just this reason. I will go sit in my cozy little nook, and work on my laptop versus my desktop at my desk to intentially change it up for a bit!
5. Set your families expectations
Maybe I should have listed this one first because I think it is the most important! Ah well, hopefully, you are still reading! There is a misconception about working from home that I still sometimes have to squash like a bug in our household. When you work form home, you are doing just that, WORKING, and for that reason, the house is not a shiny castle at the end of the day! There will be dishes, dust bunnies, laundry, unmade beds, and late dinners. And, that’s perfectly OK! When you start working from home, it is very important to communicate these things to your spouse, and ask for help on those days the work from home day gets completely away from you!
P.S. I will be sharing some more of my renovated office space in the near future so stay tuned…