From boosting employee engagement through the freedom of telecommuting to saving costs on Break Room Splenda, companies other than IBM are embracing the notion of performing jobs from far-off distances like the J.J. Bean on Davie.
But working from home can be like visiting Toronto’s lakefront: mastering the journey requires endurance, discipline, and focus. Whether you’re new to multitasking between financial reports and selling a bike on Craigslist, or a veteran of running status calls while unloading the dishwasher, you too can Ace the Home Office by incorporating these not-so-best practices.
Prepare your Work Space
The first step on the work-from-home ladder is to identify an area that will make your in-office colleagues feel more at ease with your physical absence. Instead of spending time on the perfect desk and chair combo, focus on what will appear in the background of those universally-avoided video chats. Pepper your workspace with subtle décor, like movie posters that underscore your business value sets (Dead Poet’s Society and Wall Street are industry standards). Don’t forget a whiteboard with math equations, names of key accounts, and phrases like “Ideas for New Revenue.”
Establish Daily Habits
From setting normal working hours (experts suggest 11 to 12.30) to taking breaks (The Corporate Athlete lists “Dude, when-evs!” for maximum performance), consistent routines are critical. Plan your commute: if your house has more than one floor, prepare for an additional 8–10 seconds of travel time, pending rush hour traffic on the east/west staircase. You’ll also want to step-up your vacuum game. Little known fact: the first-ever remote worker was a product tester for Dyson Ltd., who confirmed that “vacuuming the living room while procrastinating real, actual work” was one of life’s most satisfying and transformational experiences.
Be Specific about your home-office Objectives
Aside from typical home office duties like doing, folding, and putting away laundry, you’ll want to want curate a content calendar for your Netflix queue. According to a recent article in Fast Company that probably exists somewhere on the web, “…when telecommuting, just staring at the New Releases menu is a thing of the past.” Precision leads to results: instead of saying “Maybe I’ll put on a movie later,” declare “Today, while updating an Excel spreadsheet, I’ll re-watch David Fincher’s catalogue with play-by-play explainer videos from No Film School on my second screen. Then I’ll re-watch the ‘Bloodline’ pilot on mute to give my voice a subtle hint of empathy for that 2.30 sales presentation.”
Secrets to a Culture when you Work from Home
The most important element when working from home is building and maintaining a productive and professional atmosphere. Leading employee research firms agree that 272 is the magic number of personal days for your newfound nowork/life balance. When establishing a dress code, use the “Tommy Bahama cargo shorts; no robes from Caesar’s” rule of thumb.
Above all, monitor your outbound communication when prioritizing your personal life. Update your social media privacy settings: if your boss is waiting for the new “Oh Toner, Where Part Thou” logo for this year’s brand activation for Brother Printers, you don’t want an ill-timed Facebook comment to question your commitment to the storytelling POV of the MFC-1770.
Originally published in Canadian Business magazine.