Traffic, high fuel costs, ride sharing shortages—we can’t blame you for wanting to just give up and stay in bed. There is a way though. If your work allows it, you can skip the long commute, the cold lunches, and pants. You can work from home.
Now, there are a lot things to consider should you want to attempt this. Being centers of one kind of production or another, offices provide a lot of things for their employees—things that you, as the stay-at-home worker, will have to provide for yourself. We won’t quite be talking about freelancing or being self-employed, as that’s a whole other can of worms, but if you want a productive home office that you can use to get a little more time out of your day, then you’re on the right page. Jump out of your slacks, sit your butt onto an office chair, and let’s get to it.
The first thing you’ll want to have is space. While it’s incredibly tempting to just take your notebook, park it on your lap, and prop yourself up on the bed with a few pillows, this isn’t the best of ideas. You want a place that’s devoted to working, if only to get you into that working mindset. The mind is a powerful thing, but it’s also quite sneaky. If it’s not in a place that it can associate with working, it tends to not be in the right state to be properly productive. Yes, this means no spreadsheets on the dinner table either.
You’ll want a spot that you can dedicate to working, or if you’re absolutely short on space, one that you can configure to become a workplace. All the necessary tools for your trade should be within easy reach, so pens, pads, notebooks, and files should be accessible, just like they would be at your actual office. The point here is to get as close to your work environment as possible, so you can easily get more into that work mindset.
Next, you’ll want some hardware. First off is a comfy chair. While it would be a simple matter to take one from around the dining table, the kind of sitting involved in desk work just won’t let you get away with that for long. A good quality office chair will easily pay for itself in avoided back pain.
If you already have a laptop, that’s great. You can take that same one and use it at your work office, and your home office. Whether at home or the office though, consider getting yourself a full-sized external keyboard and mouse. It’s just easier and more efficient that way, and much better for your hands. And use the cloud whenever you can. It’s a great way to be sure you have access to everything you need should you change venues later on. This necessarily means a decent Internet connection, of course.
Just because your co-workers are cats, doesn’t mean you can forget to take care of yourself. Get out of your sleep clothes, jump into the shower, and start your day like a regular office-goer. Apart from establishing a routine that tells you it’s time to switch to work mode, it’ll keep you from devolving into an unwashed slob, which might actually be more important. Closely related to this, know when to quit. Just because you don’t have a homebound commute to worry about, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop working. For the sake of your sanity, and the quality of your work, set your hours. The beauty of working at home is that you are really quite flexible time-wise. Just be careful to keep it balanced. It’s just as easy to goof off as it is to over-extend.
While it’s great to have a whole workspace to yourself, you shouldn’t forget to socialize. Whether to get fresh ideas or clear your head, take a moment every once in a while to speak with people in person. An office environment has the water cooler, seatmates, and lunch breaks for interaction, so have some of your own. We can’t help but be social creatures, and being around people helps our work in a lot of little ways. Even a quick, collaborative video call to someone (if they’re down for it) is a great way to refill your social bar for a bit.
Being at home has a few hidden traps as well. A major one is snacking. A whole fridge of food, and a well-stocked pantry is great if you need a quick break and a stretch, but constantly stuffing your face will have consequences farther-reaching than just lost productivity. Be mindful of what you consume, particularly since there’s nobody around to help you do it.
Speaking of accountability, since you might not have colleagues with you to help keep your tasks in check, make yourself accountable to something. A visible list that you can look at and go through keeps you honest with your time. Being accountable to a master list will take some of the mental strain off, while still having something you need to update and answer to.
There are clear advantages to telecommuting, though only if done correctly. Should you be one of those lucky enough to be able to work this way, we hope these little tips help you to be as productive as possible, right from the comfort of home.
Words by Ren Alcantara
Art by Jael Mendoza
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE September 2018