Working from home is an exciting prospect, and it opens employees up to a sense of freedom that typically isn’t available in a traditional office setting. But if you just started telecommuting after working in an office for a while, it can be quite the adjustment. To learn more about what it’s like to make this adjustment, we interviewed Jen Cable, who recently made the switch from working in a bustling call center to doing her work from the quiet comfort of her own home. These are Jen’s top tips for staying focused and productive while telecommuting.
Get dressed in the morning. Nobody is going to see you when you’re working from home, so why not just stay in your pajamas all day? According to Jen, making the effort to put on work clothes every morning is one of the toughest parts of the day. Although it may be tempting to stay in your sweats all day long, putting on work clothes, even just blue jeans and a sweatshirt, helps you get into the frame of mind that says, “Alright, it’s time to work.”
Clock in before your boss does. Jen makes sure to log into her company’s messenger system every day before her manager does, making sure she’s listed as ‘available’ right away. She says, “I want to show that I am present, working and eager to keep learning every day. With the freedom of working from home, I want to make a good impression and show that I am trustworthy and reliable.”
Keep a consistent daily schedule. Jen keeps the same schedule every weekday, taking care to login and logout at the same times so that her co-workers know what hours she’s available. Not only is this helpful for others at the company, but it also gives Jen a sense of consistency knowing which hours are for working and which hours are for home life, even though the two take place in the same space.
Step away from the computer during lunch. When Jen first started working from home, she simply ate her lunch at her computer and kept right on working. Unfortunately, all this did was make her day seem never-ending. Jen says that when she did walk away from her desk over lunch, it helped to break up her day, so she has now incorporated this practice into every work day. From time to time, she will even take it a step further by going to her parents’ house half a mile away to eat lunch with them. Without leaving for lunch, she says that she can go days without leaving the house at all, which creates a feeling of being trapped in a space that you’re supposed to enjoy.
Avoid household distractions. Of course, there are far more potential distractions in the home than in an office. Jen comments that she catches herself looking at her cell phone more often since working from home, and this has been a habit that’s been tough to kick. On top of that, she’s also noticed that household chores can be another distraction. “It’s so easy to just turn on the washing machine or put the dryer on. During lunch, it is even easier to start cleaning up in the kitchen, and the next thing you know, you’ve done an entire cleaning session and are ready to pull out the broom until you realize you have to go back to work!”
Overall, Jen has been having a positive experience making the switch to telecommuting. She closes by saying, “Thankfully, I do hold myself accountable, and that may be my biggest reason for being able to stay as focused as I have been. It certainly isn’t easy, especially when I am used to working in a call center cubicle with extremely strict and stringent rules and guidelines. 17 years of following those strict behaviors is what allows me to remain at my desk all day, every day.”