When most employees first start to work from home, it feels like a dream: flexible work hours, no early morning commute, and nobody hovering over your shoulder or stealing your lunch from the office fridge. Beyond that, you don’t have to dress to impress and can finally balance the needs of work with the needs of your personal life. As a wahve, you also get the added bonus of being able to phase into retirement while working from home.
The reality of working from home, however, isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Working from home can sometimes present a few unforeseen challenges including longer work hours, work-at-home distractions and feelings of isolation and loneliness.
With a little extra planning and preparation, you can easily manage these challenges so that working from home is the dream-come-true experience you imagined.
Some employers resist hiring work-at-home employees because they fear that without direct physical oversight, employees will become lazy and take longer to complete tasks. However, the opposite is more likely to be true: remote employees tend to work more. As we mentioned in The Successful Work-at-Home Professional, 77 percent of remote workers get more done in fewer hours than their in-house coworkers.
That said, when you don’t have the separation of going to and from the office, your workday can blur into your personal time. This makes it all the more important to set boundaries.
- Schedule specific and regular times for breaks. Put them on your calendar and then actually take them.
- Build a routine work schedule so that you start and stop work at reasonable times.
- Resist the urge to check email “one last time” before bed so that tasks don’t spill into time reserved for non-work priorities.
We’ve all been there. You’re working from home on an important call when the doorbell rings or your dog starts to bark at the UPS delivery person. Some interruptions are inevitable when you work from home, but other distractions such as house chores, errands and TV shows can quickly lead to lost productivity.
- Designate a physical workspace at home that is separate from your home space. If possible, it’s best to have an actual home office where you can close the door when needed.
- While it may be tempting to vacuum and empty the dishwasher while on a conference call, it’s better to stay engaged and present in your work. If the messy pileup in your kitchen will keep you distracted until it’s clean, then clean it before you start work. Create a schedule that has specific time blocks for work and non-work tasks so that you stay productive.
Many employees who work from home are surprised by how lonely or isolated they start to feel. Without the impromptu conversations, meetings and lunch outings that are common at an office environment, work-at-home employees can start to feel that they are on an island.
- Build social breaks into your schedule. Be purposeful about getting out of the house for coffee or lunch with a friend, volunteering, tutoring, or taking a class at your local recreation center.
- Use technology to your advantage. Any time you have the chance to join a call via video conferencing, do it. Attend staff meetings. Instead of sending an email, pick up the phone.
- Try working at a coffee shop. Sometimes, just being out of the house and with other people who are working remotely can make you feel less isolated.
Working from home can be wonderful with just a little extra planning and proactive scheduling. Here at WAHVE, we are committed to helping retiring professionals work at home successfully, stay productive and continue to earn income while enjoying the benefits of phasing into retirement.
What are your work-at-home tips for success? Let us know below.