How To Work From Home Like A Boss
It’s the dream of many and the reality of a growing number: to work from home. Whether part or full-time, this way of working is becoming increasingly popular as benefits like environmental friendliness, reduced stress levels and increased productivity are touted as unexpected revelations. So it’s no surprise that companies are getting on board.
Turns out, offices can be super distracting. But without the ability to – literally – separate work and home, working remotely can be tricky to get right for a rookie. Instead of hunching over your laptop in your PJs, here’s our guide to working smart at home from the get-go.
#1 Form and function
The top thing to prioritise when you’re working from home is sexy, sexy ergonomics. If you don’t want the legacy of your venture into remote employment to be a buggered up back, make your posture your priority. Invest in a laptop stand with wireless keyboard, a real office chair and a desk that’s meant as a desk, not a wonky table from the side of the road. At the very least, figure out how to sit.
Working from home means you’re less likely to be walking as part of your commute, so make sure you take yourself outside on your lunch break (which you should still be taking), even if it’s just around the block. Now is also the time to crack out the yoga mat and get some mad stretching done, without having to awkwardly conceal it under your desk.
Diet is a double-edged sword for home workers – it can either mean increased access to biscuits or improved nutrition. If you plan your lunches and snack time, you’ll see plenty of benefits (both health and financial). However, if you’re not stocked up on fresh fruit and veg and are constantly running to the corner shop for Kit Kats, you might notice a dip in the quality of your eating. As Captain Planet would say, the power is yours!
#2 Avoid the procrastination station
Working from home can be great for focus – no colleagues to distract you with requests or chit-chat. But on the flip side, it’s also the reason most people say they wouldn’t want to work from home – they’d just spend the whole day on Facebook. If the thought of not making rent isn’t enough of a deterrent from Buzzfeed, you can use the Momentum app to remind you what your tasks are each time you open a new tab, or take the nuclear option of blocking time sinking sites at certain times of day.
But if you have a cat, all bets are off.
#3 Associate a space with work
Delineating work and leisure time will also increase focus. Choose one space to devote to work and avoid working in bed or on the couch. That way, you won’t wind up hating on your home. If possible, separate your work space from your bedroom. If you’re not exactly rolling in extra space, at least make sure you keep your desk primed for the sole purpose of work.
Another important delineation to make is by avoiding working in your PJs – all it does is signal to your brain that you’re relaxing, and while the stereotype is that all freelancers work in their pyjamas, the reality is that most people working at home get dressed for the day.
And, since you’ve won extra time by not commuting, try investing it wisely in meditation – increasing mindfulness in your day to day life will help you in lots of ways, including improving focus and your ability to single-task.
#4 Get technical
At an office, you’ve usually got access to quality computers, fast Internet and an IT department in case things go belly up. To set up a home office, it’s essential that you have the best Internet available in your area, a reliable computer (preferably with a spare option like an old laptop or tablet with keyboard), and an external hard drive or access to cloud storage.
You won’t necessarily have immediate access to a support desk, so arm yourself as best you can – the old ‘my Internet stopped working’ excuse won’t cut the mustard with clients, so make sure you have a Plan B for accessing the ‘net too, whether it’s tethering to your smartphone signal, or running to a local café or friend’s place.
To protect yourself and your clients’ or company’s data, it’s also a good idea to invest in anti-virus software and a paid VPN (free ones can be nasty). Add another layer of security by installing HTTPS Everywhere, which encrypts your browsing.
#5 Don’t forget the other connection
This time, we’re talking about the personal kind, not the computer kind. Lack of co-workers is both an upside and a downside to working at home. Having co-workers usually means you’re exposed to people of different ages, backgrounds and experience levels, which can be an unexpected pro to working in an office environment. Plus, for some people, having other human beings and chatter around is preferable to a silent house. It can get lonely, guys.
For some stay-at-home workers, being physically alone is why they chose the lifestyle, but for others it’s a far more negative side effect. Meet-up and neighbourhood groups, mid-week dinners with friends and Skype dates with mates in other time zones can be a necessary antidote to vast stretches of solo time.
Sort out these five things, and you’ll be nothing but stoked you don’t have to go anywhere when you get up of a morning.
Vivienne is a travelling freelance writer/editor, feminist, Harry Potter nerd and co-founder of Taylor Hermione & Co, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes safe relationships, consent and gender issues to teenagers in Australia. Find her on Twitter @VivEgan41 and Instagram @vivalogue