by Sarah Richey, Guest Contributor
When I was transitioning from working in an office in Washington, D.C., to a home office in the rural town my new husband and I were moving to, I was a bit nervous. Working from home full time was a new concept for me, and I kept getting asked 2 questions:
- How do you stay focused? I would be distracted all the time!
- Will you ever turn work off? The computer is always there!
Somewhere in between these 2 extremes, I’ve found the balance that works for me.
Remote work isn’t always the greatest thing. Fumbling through internet connection problems and dropped conference calls with your boss will drive anyone crazy. Hearing about your office friends’ Cinco de Mayo party (tequila in a water gun, really?) at the Monday morning meeting might make you feel left out. Worrying about losing relevance because you’re just not there is completely understandable.
But as companies begin to support a work-from-home model for more and more staff, it’s an incredible way to give your career the flexibility that military spouses need.
So how do you make it work for you?
1. Enjoy the Flexibility
I love the freedom to go for a walk during lunch, get a late afternoon workout in or stay with family for a week and still work full time. Working from home creates more space in my day, which ultimately makes me more productive at my job and reminds me that I have a life outside of work and the office.
2. Make It Your Space
Become your own interior decorator and make your office the most productive space for you. In my office, I put up great artwork, keep fresh flowers and have lots of natural light. This space is now more comfortable for me than my old office in D.C.
3. Maintain Communication with Your Team
Whether it’s through daily office hours or scheduled check-ins, make sure you have a way to touch base with your team on a regular basis. It can be difficult to maintain a strong presence without being there in person, so your phone and written communication will have to become even stronger to compensate.
4. Find a Plan for Slow Days
Maybe you don’t have any meetings scheduled or it’s the end of a long week, and you have no motivation to focus on work. Your house can be endlessly distracting, with household chores, TVs and Netflix.
On days like this, I have to change scenery. A local coffee shop, a library or a friend’s house, can reset my focus and help me power through the workday.
5. Make Your Case for Career Development
Don’t let remote status prevent you from expanding your career. Be bold in asking for opportunities and reporting on all the great work you’re doing. You are your biggest advocate!
6. Set up a “Personal Contact” in Meetings
Pick a colleague who will be in the room during meetings to be your go-to contact in case of technical problems, delayed start times and getting notes at the end of the meeting. This set-up can save a lot of headaches and make sure you get the most important information throughout the meeting.
7. Set a Schedule for Yourself
Have a clear time to start and end your day, and include an hour for lunch. It also helps me stay on track when I make a list of clear objectives to get done every day.
8. Go for a Walk
Walking helps me take a step back from the workday. A little fresh air gets rid of stress and refreshes my perspective.
I’ve also found that walking during long phone meetings helps me maintain my focus on the conversation and prevents me from getting distracted by new emails coming in.
9. Make Video Conferencing the New Norm
Not only do webcams give you face-to-face interaction with your colleagues, it will keep you more focused and on task during meetings. Set the expectation that you nearly always use webcams to connect with coworkers.
10. Travel, if It’s Available for You
If you have the opportunity, get some travel days in! Heading back into the office for a few days can work magic on reconnecting you with your team and reestablishing your presence in the office.
Working from home definitely requires some extra effort to make sure you are staying connected with your team.
Being deliberate about your schedule, communication and workspace makes all the difference in a productive and satisfying remote work experience.
At the end of the day, working remotely is an incredible opportunity to maintain and develop your career from anywhere in the world. The flexibility it offers can make working from home a better situation for some than working in the office. It just takes some time to find exactly what works for you!
Do you work from home? What are your tips for making the work-from-home work day productive and satisfying?
Sarah Richey works with data analytics for higher education. Her work was originally based in Washington D.C., but she’s taking it around the country with her after marrying a service member last year. She’s passionate about making college more accessible to every student, and supporting strong female leaders both in and out of the office. You can find her on LinkedIn.