For the last three years, I worked at a company that had a local office not too far from my house. It was about a 20 minute drive without traffic; after having my first child, I was in the office three days a week and worked from home two days a week. I really liked my job and I loved most of the people I worked with. However, I enjoyed the days I worked from home even more; I enjoyed that I could spend moments through out the day with my kids things like taking my daughter to preschool or being outside with them during a quick break. Because of that, when an opportunity came up to work from home full time, I jumped at the chance. After a month or so of many rounds of interviews, I was hired! In December, I started a fully remote job. I love it, but I have had to make some adjustments to make working from home as productive and positive as possible for my employer and for me.
First, the company I work for does not have a physical location; every employee is remote. Part of the reason that I chose to work here is how I see their company mission aligning with their human resources management. As a company, we work with utility companies to help people become more efficient; by having a fully remote company we are also living the company’s mission to be more efficient. Because of that mission, and because all employees are remote, the company has facilitating the virtual employee with appropriate benefits and perks. For example, they reimburse for high-speed internet and my cell phone, which is a much-appreciated added bonus.
Shifting to working from home has been a process for me; positive, but not without learning some new skills, life hacks, and tricks. Because my type of job is all web-based, I can really do my job anywhere that has wifi. However, because I want to enjoy any little breaks I can with the kids (well, most days), I am generally still working from home. I did a few things in my home office that have helped me a ton. I bought a electric stand up desk and a wobble board, which actually helps me to focus more on what I’m working on. But, since standing all day can get tiring, I found a great stability stool for when I did need to sit. To make my home office a place I wanted to be, I did some decorating, most importantly adding some plants to the window sill. I also try to open my window as much as possible. In addition to making my office a place I want to be, I recognize that I can be easily distracted, so I have set some ground rules for the house about when I can be interrupted. But also, once I get going on something, I forget to take a break, so I make sure to leave my office to make coffee or tea. I also try to do lunch with my kids each day.
With these changes, I have already seen a difference in my life. I’ve started taking time to write, Without a 20+ minute commute, I now have time to workout or cook more. It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. There have been some challenges – I miss the “water cooler” talk – it is different interacting over the phone or through slack instead of in person. My kids are still adjusting to me working when I am at home and learning that they don’t have to cling to me every time they see me because I might leave. I have also found that I need to force myself to get out some days. It is nice to not have to leave the house, but that can be isolating especially in a community where I am not part of the majority religion and, therefore, integrated into the fabric of my neighborhood. And, while it is nice to be able to throw in some laundry or pick toys, that isn’t what the company pays me for. Sticking to a task or project is top of mind during my business hours. If you are considering a shift to working from home, here are a few tips:
- Keep your phone out of sight to avoid distractions – sometimes I forget where I put it!
- Sunshine – always open the curtains around the house and, if you have one, keep your office window shades open.
- Plants – Plants keep the air in your office cleaning and having plants has been proven to improve mood. I suggest buying an herb like Rosemary which has a nature, pleasant aroma that stimulates.
- Stand up desk – I swear by my stand-up desk; my back hurts less, and when I sit, it is a treat that allows me to drill down and focus even more.
- Playlists and Podcasts – it can feel isolating, so bring in a little appropriate noise. Playlists for when you are focusing and podcasts for rote work.
Altogether, I love working from home, and I have no immediate plans to go back. What tips do you have for staying productive while working from home?