By Tracy Brown
Working from home is one of my favorite company perks. While I love the camaraderie and office banter that I share with my colleagues, there’s not much that can compare to a day at the office—at home. When working from home, I imagine some may follow their typical morning routine—showering and dressing in business casual attire—while others take advantage of the luxuries of the casualness. I prefer the latter. You can find me at home in my running shorts or yoga pants, depending on the season, working just as effectively as I do in our Center City office. While there are many benefits to working from home, one must be aware of the pitfalls such as maintaining productivity, the effects of being out of sight-out of mind, and reduced collaboration amongst colleagues.
Below are some tips to consider in order to make the most of your work-at-home experience.
- Stay connected with colleagues and culture. Make sure you don’t resort to email to stay connected. To create a more personal experience, schedule catch-up calls with your colleagues, take advantage of company outings to socialize, and avoid missing all hands meetings if you can help it. For quick questions and water cooler banter, utilize your smart phone to text or an IM tool like HipChat, Facebook Chat, or Google Talk to engage in real time conversations.
- Battling loneliness. If you are an extrovert and enjoy the social engagement you get at the office, working from home may be less appealing. Be aware if the lack of socializing impacts your motivation or impedes your ability to efficiently produce work and if so, build time into your day to interact. If you need a people fix, consider spending part of your day in a coffee shop or schedule lunch with that friend you’ve been trying to see. You can also use Skype, WebEx, or GoToMeeting to check in with colleagues for some interaction if you are craving company.
- Track down your manager. To make sure you get what you need from your boss, be sure to make a trip into the office when you know he or she will be there. Check in with your boss’ assistant and make a point to schedule some face time to talk about current and future work, challenges, and development.
- Room with a view. Make sure you have a dedicated space to work that is free from distractions. If you have a hard time staying focused—an office is your best bet. If focus isn’t your problem, the kitchen table will do just fine as long as the area is free from noise and other distractions that may keep you from the task at hand.
- Schedule. Schedule. Be sure to set a start and end time for your day. Sometimes working from home turns an 8-hour day into a 12-hour day. Be mindful of setting boundaries for yourself so that you know when to shut down. Make sure you also schedule breaks in your day—whether it is taking a walk around the block or to go grab lunch. Those brief interruptions keep our minds active and our thoughts and ideas fresh.
- It’s all about the equipment. Make sure you have the basics: basic office supplies, a quality internet connection, a comfortable ergonomically correct chair, headset, and printer. You should have all the equipment that allows you to do your work at home at the same speed, comfort, and pace that you would at the office.