Guidance You Need to Work From Home

By Jamie McDaniel, Canadian Management Centre

This article and (very short) video offer a selection of tips and tools to help you troubleshoot and overcome various challenges faced working from home. It’s a fairly high-level overview covering self-motivation, distractions, time management and workspace organization, with links to deeper dives on the topics the reader needs most. Here are a few tidbits to whet your appetite:

Take a trial-and-error approach to getting communication right. 

It’s important to find the right balance between being virtually invisible and staying in constant digital contact, which can be distracting and counterproductive. You’ll want to work towards a state where your manager is confident of your productivity without feeling the need to micromanage—another source of distraction and probable frustration.

Let internal and external business contacts know the best way to reach you, and experiment with setting your status on tools like Skype or WhatsApp to show when you’re in a meeting and when available. Bonus tip: block off time to work on specific projects and set your status to busy during those periods. 

Don’t end up working all the time simply because work is always right there. 

Although we may assume that productivity is the biggest challenge, research has shown that many remote workers skip breaks and work longer hours than normal, as well as taking fewer days off. 

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for doing your best work and avoiding burnout long-term. Take regular short breaks: set break reminders if necessary—and make sure that when you’re on break you actually get up out of your chair.

Set boundaries; don’t let your life become just one big blur. Create physical boundaries between your work and home life if possible; the ideal is to have a dedicated workspace and a door to close. 

But if that’s not your reality (and it certainly isn’t for many of us!), find creative ways to mentally separate the different parts of your life. Some ideas: dress for work, turn off the work tech and put it away when the day is done, and find simple rituals to mark the beginnings and ends of your workdays: for example, you could “commute” by taking a short walk around the neighbourhood before starting work or end the work day by ceremoniously packing away your laptop and other paraphernalia. 

Prioritize balance and find systems and processes that work for you—take the time to get it right now so that you can sustain your motivation and productivity in the long term. 

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