Working from home, or "WFH" as the kids say, is one of the miraculous benefits that a lot of modern offices are granting to employees. Since a large majority of work can be done remotely—thanks to the innovations of web-based filing systems, online communication, and widespread laptop and mobile device ownership—just because you're not "in the office" doesn't mean you're not "at work." Get what we're saying?
The problem comes when employees misinterpret the privilege of working from home and think it means "sleep from home" or "do other errands while occasionally checking work emails" or "go to your kid's ballet recital" or "sleep until four." While you're not under watch when you work remotely, that doesn't mean it's a free for all.
Being at home can be distracting, though, as we all know. The dog is barking, your room needs cleaning, and someone's grilling a feast next door. Mmm. Here are some tips on how to make your work from home days just as productive as your office days.
1. Whatever you do, do not work in bed.
If you set up your office in your bed, chances are, you will shortly be asleep, your papers will be a mess, and you'll have an unsightly crease on your forehead from where it landed on your laptop keyboard. Being in bed tells you it's time to go night-night. So if you're planning on going through that 10Q report, you should probably be sitting upright.
2. Tell anyone around you that you are working, so you don't get random interruptions.
"Hey, everyone, I'm working from home today, so please don't bother me." Yeah, that should do. Find a room with a door to close and keep it closed. But that doesn't mean you have to lock yourself up all day. A vital part of productivity is taking time for a lunch break and other breaks throughout the day. When your kids start asking you to build a treehouse at three, resist. You'll have a good excuse to put that off until the weekend.
3. Stick to your schedule.
If you're usually in the office by nine, today shouldn't be the day you just open your computer at eleven after your spin class. In fact, you'll spend less time commuting, so if you really want to impress your boss, send an email at seven! That'll show them that you take working from home seriously. Working from home also means that you don't have to be working all night. When it's quitting time, it's quitting time.
4. Get out of your pajamas.
Working from home gives you the benefit of no necessary human interaction, and it may be tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. But we always find that getting showered and dressed makes us feel fresh and helps boost productivity. Staying in our comfies all day makes us just want to curl up in a ball. Dress for success, even when you're not leaving the house. No need for a suit.
5. Get your work space just right.
Open those windows! Natural light will help you be more productive and stay awake longer. If your abode is a basement, you may consider taking your work to a lively coffee shop or a (less lively) library. Being surrounded by productive-seeming people will be inspiring.
6. Don't sleep through your calls.
We can often lose track of time when we're working from home and not constantly looking at the time on our computers at the office. But make sure you don't neglect any calls that have been scheduled. Also, if you're on a call, it might be a good time to feed the dog so he stops barking while you're trying to have a professional conversation.
7. Don't go AWOL.
Just in case your boss calls! You can run out for a bit, but keep it only to what you would do at the office if at all possible. If you need to be out for an extended period of time, give everyone a courtesy head's up. But you know that already.