Tips on working from home (and loving it)

How to get going, stay focused

Hands up if you’d gladly trade your stressful morning commute for a leisurely stroll to your living room. If your hand is up, you’re in luck. These days, working from home is all the rage.

More and more employers are offering this perk to their employees.

 

And if you’re interested in going the entrepreneurial route, lots of Canadians are starting their own business out of their homes as well.

Of course, while working from your couch in your PJs sounds great in theory, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of this kind of setup before you start picking out home office furniture.

Related: How to start a business in Canada

Pro tips on working from home

Working from home requires a few key things. Just follow these rules to make it work.

  1. Create an office space.
  2. Set boundaries.
  3. Put everything in your calendar.
  4. Reduce distractions.
  5. Get out of the house.
  6. Enjoy your flexibility.

Before we get into the best practices, let’s touch quickly on the pluses and minuses of this work setup.

Pros and cons

Working from Home Mother and Son
Working from home can give busy parents more time with their families.

Flexibility is a huge advantage of working from home. Many companies allow their remote employees to set their own working hours, so you can beat the crowds at the gym or have time to pick up your kids after school.

You might be able to write off a portion of your home office expenses on your taxes.

Also, you don’t have some distractions that come with office life, like listening to your coworker drone on about her wedding plans. Plus you save money by avoiding the long commute.

The downside of working from home

However, on the flipside, WFH has its drawbacks. For instance:

  • Without any coworkers or supervisors to keep you on track, it can be hard to stay motivated.
  • Talking with colleagues over Slack or email just isn’t the same as face-to-face. It can be harder to build deep connections with teammates.
  • You could find it hard to shut down at the end of the day. It’s tempting to check one more email or finish just one more assignment.

Still, even with these challenges, there is a lot you can do to set yourself up for success while working from home. If you’ve just started a remote job or home-based company or are interested in doing so in the future, keep reading for tips on how to make it work.

Related: Why home health care is the next great business in Canada

1. Create an office space

Working from Home Office Desk and Chair
Find a quiet space for your office, preferably one with a door that can be shut.

Don’t get me wrong, working from your bed or couch is super comfortable, but it can also be a little too comfortable.

Even if you don’t have the space to create a whole office, carving out a dedicated area in your home with a proper desk and chair can help you get into a more productive headspace and focus on your work.

2. Set boundaries

Now that you’ve claimed your office space, you need to claim your time.

When you work remotely, the people you work with can’t see when you’re at your desk and when you’re not. So you need to be clear about your working hours. Put it on your website or in your email signature so clients know when they can expect a response from you.

The same goes for friends and family. Oftentimes, people hear “flexible schedule” and think “always available,” and that’s definitely not the case.

True, having the occasional midday coffee date likely won’t hurt your productivity. But make sure to let your loved ones know that though you might be at home, you’re still working and you need to stick to a regular schedule.

3. Put everything in your calendar

Without coworkers to remind you about an upcoming call or meeting, it’s all on you to be accountable to your team and/or clients.

Put your work hours into your calendar and stick to ‘em.

 

Another good tip is to schedule your to-do list items as appointments in your calendar. This will force you to budget time for each task, which will help you plan a more realistic day for yourself.

4. Reduce distractions

While you might not have to work beside a chatty coworker, your home is likely filled with a ton of other distractions. There’s

  • Laundry to do.
  • Groceries to buy.
  • Kitchens to clean.
  • Maybe a new Netflix show to watch?

It can often take a lot of discipline to focus on your job and actually get things done.

While it’s totally okay (and important) to take breaks, make sure these breaks don’t stretch on too long. Using time management hacks like the Pomodoro Technique can help you stay on track.

5. Get out of the house

Working from Home Getting Out
Find a coffee shop or co-working space when you need to be around people.

Trust me – working from home with little human interaction can get isolating, fast. Getting out of the house and switching up your typical workspace can do wonders for your productivity.

For instance, many remote workers head to coffee shops or their local libraries to get a change of scenery. You could also kick off your day with a morning walk around the block to get those creative juices flowing.

6. Enjoy your flexibility

Remember, it’s all about balance. Even though you should add structure to your day for productivity’s sake, it’s also important to enjoy the perks that come with working from home.

Find your focus wavering? Take a break with a quick workout or blast some music and have a little solo dance party. Your work schedule can be as flexible as you need it to be, so use it to your advantage.

Definitely doable

Just like most things in life, working from home is what you make of it. Yes it comes with a different set of challenges than working in an office.

But if you take the time to build the right habits, you can reap all the benefits that come with this work arrangement. Good luck!