“Successfully working from home is a skill, just like programming, designing or writing. It takes time and commitment to develop that skill, and the traditional office culture doesn’t give us any reason to do that.” – Alex Turnbull, Founder and CEO of Groove
I started working from home a little over two years ago.
As a highly social and team-oriented individual, I questioned how successful (and ultimately how happy) I’d be sitting in my home office alone during any given 40-hour work week. But two years in, I’m still very happy with the choice.
Many organizations condition us to believe that success is only achievable in an office environment where ideas and engagement theoretically thrive. While there is some truth to that, success in business today is not contingent upon geographic location as technology continues to reshape traditional brick-and-mortar offices designed to make communication effortless.
The coronavirus has forced much of society to make adjustments to their everyday routines. Education is now being done exclusively online, grocery shopping too, and many employees now find themselves in unfamiliar territory – navigating the waters of working from home.
While no one knows for sure just how long quarantining will last, all of these adjustments to our routine will undoubtedly change the way in which we do things in the future as we all experience what’s truly possible and even effectual.
I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned by working from home, hoping it helps you adjust to these unprecedented circumstances.
Establish a routine from the start and stick to it
Where most people go wrong working from home is by not having an established routine they adhere to religiously. For me, I wake up the same time every morning, Monday through Friday, readying myself as if I were truly heading into the office, only I’m typically wearing sweat pants and a sweatshirt. Since my office headquarters is two hours ahead of my time zone, I like to start early so we’re always on the same work schedule, which limits any inconveniences to my colleagues. It’s also important to maintain a scheduled lunch hour and even a few breaks here and there for stretching and rejuvenating – much as you would in an actual office environment.
Create a dedicated work space
Another key for any successful working from home situation is creating a dedicated work space. Perhaps it’s a home office, spare bedroom or basement with a desk or a table. Wherever it might be, it should be a static location in which you can organize your files, notes, books, equipment – whatever you need to accomplish your job – without having to pack it all up and reorganize it all the next morning. This alone will help you establish a routine, while also allowing you to separate your work space from your living space at the end of the day.
Make sure you get out of the house
Living and working in the same space without so much as a change of scenery can be emotionally and even physically debilitating. Part of establishing a routine for your workday should include time away from your home. While I know this isn’t fully possible with quarantining, we’re still able to get outside and go for a walk around the block at lunchtime or after your day is through. Maybe you grab a cup of coffee at your local beanery, run a few errands to help out your spouse or just sit out on the front porch enjoying nature, decompressing and reconnecting with yourself, while refocusing your mind.
Scott Mautz, a former executive at Procter & Gamble and business writer says, “When you stop and you look at the data available to us, in almost two thirds of the cases, every leader that granted the work from home option has found productivity has increased by as much as 50%.”
While it may take a little getting used to for some traditionalists, you just might find that working from home is more beneficial (for everyone) than you imagined.