Working from Home: Tips and Strategies

Working from home has become increasingly common in recent years. However, many executives now find themselves at home on a daily basis, striving to stay as productive as possible. Below are recommendations for establishing positive routines and making the most of home-work days.

Create your own work space. Establishing a designated workspace – whether it is a proper home office, a corner of the living room or a desk in the spare bedroom – is essential to maintaining your sanity and work-life balance. Make a space that is comfortable and fit for purpose, even if that means rearranging the furniture or bringing a computer monitor home. If at all possible, have a space that you can leave behind at the end of the day so as to not feel that your work is encroaching into your personal life.

Build a routine to support self-discipline. Working from home forces you to be more disciplined, which is easiest done when sticking to a good routine. By creating a structure to your day, much as you would in the office, it may surprise you how easy it is to be disciplined. A wise practice is to treat days at home like any other work days – get up, go through your morning routine and start work by a set time. The harder part is sticking to an end-of-day routine – try to set a designated finish time so that work doesn’t spill over into your evenings. Finally, ensure others at home know your working hours and when you are and are not available.

Continue to dress for success. Given the likelihood that you’ll have at least one or two videoconferences during your day, dress appropriately depending on the audience. While formal business attire may not be needed, career experts recommend “comfortable but professional,” which means better than typical lounge wear. Getting dressed in a separate “home-work wardrobe” also helps to mentally prepare you for your day, the same as dressing up does for your days in the office.

Keep in touch with colleagues. If you are used to working in a busy office, suddenly transitioning to spending the whole day by yourself can be disconcerting. It can even feel lonely. Keep in touch with phone calls, video conferencing or via instant messenger. Vary your methods; think beyond resorting to email and pick up the phone a few extra times a day. Schedule regular calls with your team so that everyone can keep up to speed with work and projects, and take a few minutes for small talk as well.

Be more mindful of your assistant. If you have an administrative assistant who supports you, make your typical routine even more structured than it already is. Connect daily at the same times – the first and last thing each day, for example. Rely on that person for moral support, and in return tell them how much you appreciate the job that they do. Keeping this relationship strong is critical to getting you through a successful stretch of time working from home.

Get some fresh air and exercise. Without a daily commute, you may find that you are less active than usual. Try to plan lunchtime or evening activities that involve moving around, preferably outside. In addition, there is a plethora of online resources to support home workouts.

Stay self-aware. It’s easy to feel cooped up, frustrated or anxious when working from home, combined with the usual stressors of your work. Keep tabs on your emotional state and recognize when you’re not in the best frame of mind. If you’re feeling particularly stressed, it may be time to make a cup of tea, take a walk, or reach out to a trusted colleague as a way to reorient your mindset.

Make the most of your extra time. Perhaps the greatest benefit of working from home is that your commute takes ten seconds (perhaps twenty on a slow day). This gives you a little bit of bonus time back into your day. Use this extra time constructively – read a good book, cook a delicious meal, spend time with your children. See this extra time as a gift.

This article was developed by WittKieffer’s Holly Lithgow with input from colleagues.

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