UPDATE: This working from home post was originally published on 8 March 2019 and updated on 18 February 2021.
Until the last year or so, working from home was a perk enjoyed by the few who were lucky enough to be employed by a company with flexible work options. Then COVID-19 happened.
About one-third of Canadians shifted to remote work at some point in 2020.
Of course, lots of people are starting their own business out of their homes as well.
While working from your couch in your PJs sounds great in theory, like all work arrangements, it has its challenges. Here are some tips to make it work better for you.
Related: How to start a business in Canada
Pro tips on working from home
Working from home requires a few key things. Just follow these rules to minimize the cons and maximise the pros of this work arrangement.
1. Create an office space
Don’t get me wrong, working from your bed or couch is super comfortable, but it can also be a little too comfortable.
Even if you don’t have the space to create a whole office, carving out a dedicated area in your home with a proper desk and chair can help you get into a more productive headspace and focus on your work.
2. Set boundaries
Now that you’ve claimed your office space, you need to claim your time.
If you work for yourself, the people you work for typically can’t see when you’re at your desk and when you’re not. So you need to be clear about your working hours. Put it on your website or in your email signature so clients know when they can expect a response from you.
The same goes for friends and family. Oftentimes, people hear “flexible schedule” and think “always available,” and that’s definitely not the case.
True, having the occasional midday coffee date likely won’t hurt your productivity. But make sure to let your loved ones know that though you might be at home, you’re still working and you need to stick to a regular schedule.
3. Put everything in your calendar
Without coworkers to remind you about an upcoming call or meeting, it’s all on you to be accountable to your team and/or clients.
Set alarms on your phone for meetings if needed.
Another good tip is to schedule your to-do list items as appointments in your calendar. This will force you to budget time for each task, which will help you plan a more realistic day for yourself.
Editor's note: Nothing increases the productivity of a team like Microsoft Teams, the conferencing app that comes with Microsoft Office 365 from GoDaddy.
4. Reduce distractions
While you might not have to work beside a chatty coworker, your home is likely filled with a ton of other distractions. There’s
- Laundry to do.
- Groceries to buy.
- Kitchens to clean.
- Maybe a new Netflix show to watch?
It can often take a lot of discipline to focus on your job and actually get things done.
While it’s totally okay (and important) to take breaks, make sure these breaks don’t stretch on too long. Using time management hacks like the Pomodoro Technique can help you stay on track.
5. Get out of the house
As many of us have learned, working from home can get monotonous. Depending on the size of your home, there are only so many places you can work.
Getting out of the house can do wonders for your productivity — even if you just take a walk around the block to get those creative juices flowing.
6. Enjoy your flexibility
Remember, it’s all about balance. Even though you should add structure to your day for productivity’s sake, it’s also important to enjoy the perks that come with working from home.
Find your focus wavering? Take a break with a quick workout or blast some music and have a little solo dance party. Your work schedule can be as flexible as you need it to be, so use it to your advantage.
Just like most things in life, working from home is what you make of it. Yes it comes with a different set of challenges than working in an office.
But if you take the time to build the right habits, you can reap all the benefits that come with this increasingly common work arrangement. Good luck!