New to the world of telecommuting?
Is COVID-19 affecting your job?
Learn how to work from home successfully
With COVID-19 ripping through most inhabited countries and threatening the global economy, a lot of people are either without work or telecommuting(1).
For some—like waiters, bankers, doctors and so on—telecommuting just isn’t possible. On the flip side, technology is allowing a lot of other people to work from the comfort of their homes and avoid the possibility of losing their entire income.
This is an opportunity for a lot of individuals and companies to test the waters and see how well telecommuting works. There are, of course, pros and cons, and it isn’t for everyone in the long run, but this blog will give you five tips to work from home successfully.
The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting
- It’s less stressful: There’s no need to deal with busy cities and packed public transport, and a lot of the pressure people feel in the office is erased. No boss is going to micromanage(2) you, and the environment is more in the employee’s control.
- You can move around more: For some, this might not be an issue, but a lot of people feel stuck while working in an office or inside in general. Most office jobs have a lot of sitting, and desks and cubicles are still the standard. When at home, you can choose which room to work in, get more sunshine, or even go outside and work from a cafe.
- You can save time: For me, this is by far the biggest pro. You skip commute time, don’t need to sit at your desk tapping your pen until clock-out time arrives, and you can easily place breaks into your day as you need them.
- Spend more time with loved ones: If you live with other people, you may see them more. Family and roommates can be great to talk to for quick breaks and motivation. Even if it is just a pet, you get more family/friend time.
- It’s easier to be lazy: While being lazy in the office isn’t exactly a challenge, home usually comes with more distractions. Just looking around, I could pick up a guitar, a video game controller, take a nap on a real bed, or read a book. Not everyone has great self-control, and fun distractions make it easier to miss deadlines(3) or oversleep.
- You’re less social: Some people live alone, and even if not, their spouse, roommate, or family members may have to leave for work. It is easy to feel more isolated while working from home. Staring at yardbirds or houseplants doesn’t exactly make for a rich social life for most people.
- Meetings: It is harder to have important conversations with co-workers who may be working on the same project, and meetings are more tedious to set up, but technology is working hard to break down these barriers.
- You might feel like you’re home too much: Some people just like to be out and about. The very idea of working at home might be enough to drive some people crazy.
Let’s move on to the five tips you can use to maximize(4) your telecommunicating experience and work from home successfully.
Get Outside Before Clocking In
It’s awfully tempting to just sleep in and work straight from bed. You could get Uber Eats and just watch Netflix to start the day. Don’t do it! Getting outside in the morning or doing something you enjoy before work can set the tempo(5) for the rest of the day.
At the very least, get out of bed and change your clothes (taking a shower might help too). If you don’t do this, your mind will be too relaxed, or worse yet stuck in sleep mode. Changing your clothes signals to your brain that you are starting the day and that it’s time to be productive.
I personally find it highly beneficial to get outside as well. Starting the day off with some sun, a decent breakfast, and a little exercise wakes me up and allows me to slip into work mode rather than colliding into it and feeling groggy.
Use a Calendar
When working from home, the calendar acts as your personal timekeeper. Jot down what you need to get done that day, and try to write down when you will do it and how long it will take.
Even when I am at the office, this is always my first order of business, but I also understand some people like to be less regimented(6).
The reason why the calendar works so well is that it allows you to avoid distractions and always keeps deadlines in the back of your mind. Most people don’t have eight hours of actual work, so it’s easier to take a longer break, get lazy, and rationalize it. This is when the calendar kicks in and lets you know whether or not you can take a break or if there is pertinent work that needs immediate attention.
Make Breaks and Commute Time Productive
Having no commute time is the absolute best thing about working from home! Even if you’re not an angsty small-town person like me who hates big cities and crowds, commute time isn’t fun, and worse yet, it is dead time (meaning you are forced to do it and don’t have full control over how you use it).
Working from home offers you extra free time in your day. Try to plan out how you can use that to get your own personal goals finished. Maybe you can exercise, meditate, or work on learning a new skill. Don’t just ignore this time, track it and use it.
When I am in the office, my breaks tend to consist(7) of me chattering with a coworker, taking a brief walk up and down the stairs, or getting lost on the internet. You’re at home! Use this time better.
You can use it to clean something in your house (which will make the people you live with happier), spend a little bit more time with a loved one, study, or engage with a productive hobby. If you take three or four 10 minute breaks throughout the day, that is already 30 to 40 minutes that you can get back.
Get Some Sun and Fresh Air
One of my least favorite things about working inside is that you don’t get a lot of sunlight. Some offices might have good lighting, but we are all too used to fluorescent(8) lights and LCD screens. None of this is healthy or natural.
If you work from home, try to spend time in a room that has more light. As I write this, I am staring outside and feeling fresh air hit my face.
On top of that, you can use breaks to take a quick walk outside (something many bosses foolishly discourage). Just a few more minutes of sunshine a day may be all you need for a quick mental health boost.
Keep up on Communications
Lastly, remember that you are still at work. You have projects to finish and other people that are relying(9) on you making your deadlines and helping them out.
While it’s nice to be able to cut out a lot of the distractions from the office, people still need to socialize, and you still have a responsibility to your coworkers.
Most companies use some sort of messaging software, and it’s easier than ever to video call and coordinate with people remotely. Being able to work from home successfully is easier than ever!
Working from home isn’t for everyone, but it does come with a lot of perks. Being able to utilize(10) those benefits and remain disciplined enough to finish your work and maintain quality is the name of the game.
Everything has pros and cons, but working from home can be highly rewarding. With COVID-19 in full swing, a lot more people will be getting a taste of what telecommuting is like.
If you can start the day right, plan your schedule, utilize the extra time gained from cutting out your commute, and try to take good care of your mental health by getting outside a little more and staying social, you may end up with a desire to work remotely more often. Now you’re ready to work from home successfully.
1. telecommute (v.)
Def. to work at home by the use of an electronic linkup with a central office
Ex. I’ve been telecommuting for two weeks, but I miss my coworkers.
2. micromanage (v.)
Def. to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details
Ex. He quit his job because his supervisor constantly micromanaged him.
3. deadline (n.)
Def. a date or time before which something must be done
Ex. The deadline for this homework assignment is this Friday.
4. maximize (v.)
Def. to make the most of
Ex. He maximized his study time by turning his phone off.
5. tempo (n.)
Def. rate of motion or activity
Ex. The tempo in the big city is a little too fast for me.
6. regimented (adj.)
Def. very strictly organized or controlled
Ex. My brother is so regimented; he only thinks about how he can increase his productivity.
7. consist (v.)
Def. to be composed or made up—usually used with of
Ex. This dinner consists of protein, vegetables, and a small serving of starches.
8. fluorescent (adj.)
Def. bright and glowing as a result of fluorescence
Ex. Fluorescent light bulbs don’t compare to natural sunshine.
9. rely (v.)
Def. to be dependent
Ex. She always relies on her boyfriend to carry her bag.
10. utilize (v.)
Def. to make use of : turn to practical use or account
Ex. You can utilize this opportunity to work from home and use your free time more wisely.