10 Steps to Make Working From Home Most Successful

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Like many things that seem glamorous from the outside looking in, working from home isn’t as luxurious of a life as it seems. Sure, there are some stellar advantages when you embark on an adventure outside of a traditional office paradigm, but the reality is, there’s a lot more to think about than may immediately come to mind.

The benefits definitely outweigh the shortcomings, in many cases, however. Take, for example, that out of office employees have the potentiality for a much higher productivity rate than those that spend every day in the office. As research like this continues to prove the value of ‘WFH’ as a whole, astute organizations are quickly taking not only notice, but action.

The bottom line when it comes to measuring the success of remote work is asking, within a few months of adopting the policy, “Does this agreement create the most constructive outcome possible for both parties?” If the answer is yes, keep going. If the answer is no, pivot. It’s also important to note that this lifestyle isn’t necessarily for everyone. And although most can adapt to the change without a major impact, some personalities and job descriptions are best suited for a more conventional arrangement—and that’s fine, too.

Whether you’re just beginning to explore the idea of working from home, or you’re indulging in the progressive practice already, there are a few tips to keep top of mind to make a major impact out of office—these ten steps will help you create a most successful, long-lasting standard to start from.

1. Groom and dress just as you would for working in an office.

It’s imperative to avoid tumbling into the pitfalls of being laissez-faire about your at-home workwear and hygiene regimen. That doesn’t mean that it’s not OK to have a casual day, or even two, a week, but regularly showering, grooming and dressing as if you were leaving the house is a must for long-term work from home success.

When you look good, you feel good—and that preparedness also sets a precedent for the way you approach the day. It’s easy to fall into a routine that is more relaxed, and although it may seem amazing to wear your pajama pants for work,  they’re truly not doing you any favors, especially when it comes to your motivation and self-esteem.

2. Have a committed space that’s solely dedicated to work.

Even if you don’t have an entire room to dedicate as an office, a space that is quiet, private and functional is vital to work successfully in a remote environment. There are obvious necessities like a desk, chair and shelf space, but there are also more nuanced decisions that need to be made when you’re starting from scratch.

Begin by brainstorming the attributes in your former offices that you believe helped make you most productive and satisfied—add those elements first to make yourself most comfortable. From there, create some ‘nice-to-have’ accompaniments that make your space feel unique. Still, need some ideas to get you going? Try these twenty-one tips for creating a home office from Small Biz Trends.

3. Create a meal schedule that is healthy, flexible and easy to follow.

Grab-and-go meals are an everyday part of office life for the majority of the workforce. Often times, without the flexibility to move around and leave work at will, employees find their lunch break to be sacred ‘me time’ away from confines of close collaboration and interactions all day—any chance for a little autonomy, and it’s out the door.

One of the major benefits of a home office is the ability to prepare and store meals in a much different way than you can at work. Take advantage of the opportunity to plan weekly meals and get creative in your kitchen! Curating a variety of quick and easy options that can be me prepared in advance will make you want to eat at home, instead of embarking on a likely unhealthy outside option instead.

4. Stay social by interacting with friends and acquaintances regularly.

Becoming more reclusive can become a detrimental habit to those that work solo for long periods of time. Solitude can develop into a slippery slope of anti-sociality without ever even thinking too much about it. Human interaction helps build our confidences as we bond with our closest confidants—keep them in close, regular communication and you’ll feel more whole.

The beginning of the month is a great time to set aside a few days that are meant solely for socializing with friends, coworkers or the like. Set times, dates and activities so that you’re less likely to flake on actually making plans or bailing on them beforehand. When you build these occasions into your regular routine, you’re more likely to stay an active part of your social community.

5. Keep accountable to a standard workday schedule each week.

Just because you don’t have to wake up at 6 am for your morning commute when you work from home doesn’t mean that all day is your own. While some employers are now engaging a flexible work schedule that is based on production not hours in the office, like the R.O.W.E. method,  your best bet is to stick to a scheduled routine each day.

That’s not to say that you have to leave your desk at noon on the dot to eat your lunch and get back to it by 1 pm, but more-so, have a baseline standard for predictable operation during work hours. It’s very easy to let an entire day get away from you when you’re not prepared—set yourself up for success by being ultra-engaged in a daily plan.

6. Curate a routine that will keep you physically active.

As we all know, exercise is an integral part of our overall health—even greatly affecting our mental well being, too. For city-dwellers, it’s typically fairly simple to add extra activity in your day, through the increased amount of walking one does in an urban environment—for those that commute by car or work from home, that can be more challenging.

One of the perks of not having to be in the office is the chance to make a little more time for yourself throughout the day; work/life balance has become an almost-cliché catchphrase for the progressive workforce, and one of the major benefits it boasts is the potential to get active each day. Even if it’s just walking while on a work call or finishing up a few minutes early to beat the after-work gym rush; take time to make you a priority in your day, too.

7. Utilize opportunities to network that make you more connected.

Similar to the advice of keeping social with friends, building a better network of connections around where you live, and work will benefit your professional life. Often times, remote employees live in completely different parts of the country, or even world, as their counterpoints; to that end, there’s a necessity to find live, like-minded people close by.

Meeting professionals within your own community is so often an underutilized activity. If where you live isn’t as advanced as a more metro area with Meetup.com-esque opportunities, do some research on LinkedIn or local professional portals and make an introduction to people with similar careers that you may not meet otherwise; try that a few times, and soon you’ll have an entire group that you can get together.

8. Find an activity that you enjoy outside of work to partake in.

Hobbies are important; if you can’t remember that last time you partook in something that would even resemble one, it’s time to get to it. Finding personal satisfaction in doing things that we enjoy is something many of us take far too little time indulging in. We work so many hours of our lives away without too much thought, yet we never consider how little we ‘play’ as adults.

Whether it’s taking up a creative class or getting back into something that interested you years ago, taking part in activities that bring you joy has myriad benefits. Outside of the feeling of accomplishment from attending, it’s also another opportunity to meet people like you. Or even if it’s as simple as taking the time to read a few pages of a book a few times a week, give your brain a break with something not work-related for a change.

9. Start as early as you are able to truly commit to.

Saying you’re going to turn a 9 am call time into a 7:30 start is a noble desire, but if you’re not going to really stick to that schedule for more than a few days, it’s in your best interest to relax the regimen just a little bit. Many times, frustration from working remotely stems from small aggravation with your shortcomings—like not sticking to when you said you’d start working.

Try negotiating with yourself to find a balance. If you really want to start your workday at 7:30 am, start at your typical 9 am hour and work backwards at your own pace. Maybe your target time will be the ultimate solution, or maybe you’ll find your sweet spot is somewhere in the middle; either way, you’re holding yourself accountable without being overly ambitious.

10. Develop organizational strategies that allow you to thrive.

Working in an office can make staying organized much easier. Likely, there are a plethora of tools and supplies at your disposal that allow you to take advantage of being organized and orderly. At home, however, especially if you work independently, it can be a challenge to build those attributes into your experience.

If you’re working on a corporate team, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your management to facilitate strategies that will make your job more efficient to do from home; from apps and software to allowances for office supplies, they want to help you succeed. If you work independently, be sure to be aware of ways to save on building these aspects into your yearly budget.

Just developing a few healthy habits will make you amazingly successful in an at-home office environment—like anything else there is always learning curve and a lot of trial and error, so be patient with the process and with yourself. Over time, you’ll find the best way to adapt to your new way of working and will be a more well-rounded employee, and more importantly, person for it.