Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a work-from-home situation for a while now and you finally have it. You are loving the newfound flexibility and freedom, the very short commute, and the ability to avoid unwanted conversations with your awkward or annoying coworker.
However, for those of us having to balance working from home with living at home for the first time, there are some pitfalls and some bad habits I want to warn you about now so you can hopefully get through this time of temporary remote work without losing your damn mind.
Observe office hours
The fastest way for your work-from-home life to turn into a work-never-ends prison is to fail to establish and observe office hours. Office life has a lot of downsides but the one bright spot is that when you leave the office in the evening, you can transition seamlessly into your personal life until you walk into the office again the next morning. Now that you work from home, that important transition time is gone. The boundaries between work and personal life get very blurry and when you don’t have a lot going on and it’s very easy to just continue working and never “leave the office.” Don’t make that mistake. Set a formal start and end time for your day, just like you would if you were going into the office.
Avoid Netflix (or any video streaming) while you are working
I know it is so tempting to take full advantage of your newfound freedom at work and stream The Office while you are “at the office.” You may even be feeling a little disoriented with how quiet working from home can be (you never realized you would miss Karen’s annoying laugh or Mike’s stupid jokes). But streaming your favorite show while trying to work will only slow you down, make you feel less productive, and blur the lines between home life and work life (if you watch that episode of Tiger King while you are sending morning emails, what do you have to look forward to when you’re done for the day?). I know the beauty of adulthood is being able to watch TV whenever you want, but do yourself a favor and stick to your normal entertainment schedule.
Maybe change out of your PJs every once and a while
I’m going to guess your athleisure wear is getting a real workout these days as you change out of one set of yoga pants to another. I’m all for being comfortable while you work and the no bra and yoga pants-only dress code is one of the many perks of working from home but I promise that it will start affecting your state of mind if you stay in your pajamas or casual-wear consistently. And right now, our biggest battle (other than avoiding COVID-19) is a mental one – staying positive and productive when our scenery and schedule may not feel that way. Every now and then, put on a favorite outfit, do your hair and makeup, and dress like you do intend to leave the house (but don’t). It is pretty incredible what a change of wardrobe will do for your state of mind.
Check in with your boss a little more often than usual
If your regular work situation does not allow for remote work, I can assume that your boss may be feeling pretty uncomfortable with not being able to physically check in with direct reports every day. For good bosses who trust their employees, this won’t be a problem. For inexperienced or bad bosses (of which I know there are many), this lack of control/oversight may make them seem even more micro-managey than usual. Do yourself a huge favor and score some major points with the boss by proactively checking in with your supervisor daily, letting them know what you are working on today or have accomplished, and just keeping them in the loop. You will make your boss feel more at ease in this new way of working, and you will keep them off your case which will make your life a lot easier.
Stop the emails once you start the wine
If you have ever regretted a text you sent while drunk, just imagine how you would feel about an email to your boss when you are operating at a less than sober level. One of the great things (we think) about working from home is that happy hour starts whenever you want it to. However, remember that the slightly tipsy version you may not be your best professional version of you. Your evening cocktail may make you funnier or a better dancer, but it doesn’t make you better at your job. Do your career a favor and shut your work day down before you pour that first glass.
Working from home looks different for everyone but these tips can make any WFH situation slightly more manageable. What work-from-home lifehacks have you discovered that keep you on track?
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