Thanks to advancements in technology, and studies that show telecommuting can lead to increased output by employees, working at home has never been easier or more widely available. Companies today are more likely to provide a work-at-home option for their employees for two key reasons: It provides greater work-life balance and therefore makes their organization more attractive to candidates and because of skills gaps which make it increasingly difficult to find high-quality, local talent.
While working at home is definitely appealing to many individuals, it can also produce its own sets of challenges. For instance, you might be trading in your commute to and from work for a litany of distractions produced by your home environment; whether they be children or pets, household chores or errands, or a lack of firewall opening up your Web surfing abilities.
If you’re having trouble telecommuting, are giving it a shot for the first time, or considering a remote position during your job search, consider these tips to help boost work at home productivity:
- Install a web blocker:
When working remotely and connected to your home network, you might find yourself getting the itch to check social media, catch up on the news or (let’s be honest) get sucked into a never-ending stream of clickbait articles. It’s ok, it happens to us all and in fact studies have shown surfing the web every once in awhile can actually help you work more efficiently. Consider installing a plug-in to your web browser such as StayFocused which will allow you to block the websites you love the most, for a predetermined amount of time, so you can keep on track and won’t have to worry about fudging with your firewall settings every few hours.
- Create an “at-home” to do list:
We use to do lists almost every day in the office, so it only makes sense to use them at home as well. However, if you’re going to bring your to do list home with you, you’ll want to make some changes to it that can help you be more productive while working remotely. Start by organizing your list of tasks by time (i.e. at 9 a.m. check email, at 10 a.m. write meeting agenda) and, rather than only putting work functions on there, include the errands that will no doubt distract you throughout the day. This will help keep you focused on work tasks because you’ve already carved out time for the errands you’ll want to accomplish while telecommuting.
- Prepare for work as if you’re going to the office:
Here’s a scenario that will ruin your work-at-home day: You log in to your computer, begin a task, decide to break for a moment to make coffee and realize you’re fresh out. You’ve now got it in your head that you need to run to the store quickly (yeah, right) to get some coffee and, next thing you know, you’ve wasted half your day. Prepare your day at home as if you’re going to the office—pack a lunch, make sure your coffee is stocked and have all the documents you need—and you can avoid the greatest time suck of all: having to leave the house.
- Consider a coworking facility:
The recent increase in telecommuting has led to the development of coworking facilities in many big markets. A coworking facility is essentially an office for people who work from home, that isn’t associated with one particular company or another. While these facilities are mostly geared towards freelance and contract workers (as well as small start-up companies in some cases) they often times offer day rates for when neither your office or home are an option. If you live in an urban area, a coworking facility might be appealing as a means to lessen your commute. It also serves as a place for you to meet, interact and even work with other freelance or remote workers, whom you can then bounce ideas off of and, most importantly, avoid working in an empty apartment or house all day long. Essentially, these facilities give you the freedom of working from home with the structure of being in an office.
- Strike the perfect balance:
Finding the right balance between focused work and small breaks can be difficult, especially while working at home. According to a recent study by social scientists, the perfect formula for maximum productivity is to work for 52 minutes and break for 17. You can get the full scoop on this study here, but in the meantime you’ll want to take this formula into consideration when creating an at-home to do list and setting limits on your web blocking plug in.
Every job comes with its challenges, and if you are able to work at home (or have to) you will be presented with a new list of obstacles. However, telecommuting also comes with a number of upsides, especially if you follow our tips on how to stay productive.
Want a change of scenery, or currently in a job search for a remote position? Connect with us today to finally put that search to an end and start your new job tomorrow.