Working from home is a privilege that a few enjoy. It is usually perceived by both employer and employee as a perk of the job and is an important aspect of workplace flexibility. Many organizations are slowly realizing the benefits of a flexible/remote work policy and the win-win situations of implementing such policies (http://mashable.com/2011/10/10/remote-workforce-changing/). You may be your own company or a cog in the wheel of a large company; from experience, I have found that it is quite possible to be even more productive working from your home-office than from a cubicle. Distraction-free environment, commute, office politics, flexibility of schedule all contribute to enhanced productivity but the focus of today’s blog is how to get the best out of yourself when you are working from home :
Tip # 1 Integrity: You are in a position of trust and with Trust comes Responsibility. As Oprah has said –”Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” Self-discipline is key to ensuring that you are at your productive best. You are your own manager in this scenario and have to take ownership of your work output. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals and STICK to them come what may.
Tip # 2 Time Management: It is very easy to lose track of time when you don’t have to punch in time and out time. Having more flexibility in your schedule is great, but it also makes it harder as there are more options on balancing time slots between personal and work time. Create your work hours based on what works best for you, your customers and your team. These hours may change from time to time but it is important to block them. For example – I work best late night, so I schedule my highest priority tasks that need my concentration the most for my time slots in the night. You may want to use a timer initially to keep track of time and reward yourself when your timer goes off with a short break. You will find yourself less distracted. And know when to stop – don’t let work takeover your life! Find the techniques that work best for you in tracking your most valuable resource – time!
Tip # 3 Work – Space: Keep aside a specific space – a room is best – dedicated as your work zone. It helps change the state of your mind from “I am at home” to “I am at work”. You work-space should be sacrosanct – no distractions allowed, enforce a “closed door” policy if needed. Keep your desk uncluttered and surround yourself with stuff that helps you focus – maybe fresh notepads and pens, work board, good lighting, coffee maker, music.
Tip # 4 Tools and Infrastructure: When you work from home, you are your own IT, admin and HR helpdesk. Even if your company is not paying you for it, good infrastructure and tools are totally a great investment to help you overcome irritations and productivity loss. A comfortable office chair, power backup, a good speakerphone, a printer/scanner and copier, headphones and microphone are some essentials. Do maintenance on your laptop/desk top regularly to ensure best performance. Back up your data and use a good antivirus solution.
Tip # 5 Communication and Collaboration: This becomes even more critical when you are working remote – you have to make up for face time by consciously increasing your interaction with your team and peers through intensive communication and collaboration. Pick up the phone and talk to people more, take every opportunity to collaborate, create mailing groups to inform and be informed – just because you are not physically present in the office doesn’t mean you can’t be a present and active member of your team. And ultimately remember that your work has to speak out loud for you, be “visible” through excellence in your work.
Finally I leave you with these words from Abraham Lincoln in a letter he wrote in 1851 :
If you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot get along anywhere.
— Abraham Lincoln
What strategies have worked for you in increasing your productivity when you work from home ? Do share.