By Clare Kumar
We’ve covered a wealth of material in this series which is applicable to any office, but working from home presents unique challenges. Numerous stats show productivity gains of 15% or more through working from home. Why is it then that some people can work successfully from home but others say they simply can’t? The foundation to work successfully from home comes with planning an effective workspace and developing appropriate work practices.
Here are six strategies you can implement to ensure productive work from home:
1. Pay as much attention to creating your home office as you would an office in a traditional work environment
Identify the tasks you need to accomplish and determine the work surfaces, storage, and tools you need to support those tasks. Invest in ergonomic equipment to keep you working safely – this includes among other things your chair, keyboard and mouse, keyboard tray, monitor stands and footrests. Be mindful that the least expensive office tools are not necessarily the best value if they don’t function the way you need them to, or you end up replacing them more often.
2. Set boundaries
It is important to create physical boundaries to preserve your ability to work in a focused manner. This may mean repurposing a room with a closed door to create a quiet environment.
If your work area is carved out from an area used by others, define times in which you cannot be disturbed. I work from a home office and if working on the weekend, I communicate to the family the period of time that I may disturb for “emergencies only”.
One hazard of working from home is the proximity of work compelling you to attend to it 24/7. Creating physical and time boundaries will help you keep your work and home commitments from encroaching upon each other.
3. Light it up
Lighting in home offices is often overlooked. Be realistic about the amount of time you will spend working in your office and your need for natural light. Take this into account when choosing where to place your workstation.
4. Create a schedule
It can be daunting to have a whole day in front of you without a clear schedule. Create a daily or weekly schedule around the different kinds of work you do –varying tasks within each day. Use a wall calendar or planner to keep your plan easy to refer to. This will help avoid distraction from at-home to-dos.
One of the benefits of working from home can be fitting in home tasks in short breaks throughout the day. If managed carefully you return to work refreshed and satisfied at getting a jump on dinner or laundry. Working from home allowed me to hang laundry outside all summer long, saving me money and better preserving my clothes!
5. Build community
One of the joys of working in an office in the sense of community that comes from working with others. To make sure you get social interaction schedule office visits (good for keeping in sight and therefore in mind) or appointments away from home at least 2-3 days every week.
6. Stay active
You’ll save commute time by working from home so invest at least part of this time in staying physically active. Find a gym nearby or an exercise companion and combine your social time with a healthy lifestyle. A quick trip to the gym at lunchtime will boost your energy and help you attack the afternoon with vigour.
Coming up next in the series: Maintaining an organized workspace
ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.