In my previous blog, I wrote about remote work equipment needed to excel at home, but microphones and productivity apps will only do so much. True success in a WFH environment comes from a shift in mindset.
Set Professional Boundaries
This may not be an issue for traditional workers transitioning to distributed teams, but one of the biggest hurdles I faced in my early days as a freelancer was knowing when to start/stop working. Saying that you’re available whenever and have certain employers take that literally, is not good for work-life balance, which is a little skewed right now, but is still of paramount importance. A word of obvious advice for long-term remote workers without set hours: set them yourself. Inform leadership of your availability every day and adhere to your chosen timeslot. In the words of a friend who is working from home temporarily: “my home office hours are the same as my in-office hours, 9-5, unless I’m paid for overtime or notified ahead of time.” The easiest way to transition to remote work is to keep to a similar routine you had before the WFH transition.
Dress for the Job
I’m biased because I’ve been wearing sweatpants for the entirety of my remote career, but many contend that dressing for work is a large component of long-term productivity. As eluded to previously, preserving and keeping a routine is an indispensable part of working from home. It is not uncommon for employees to continue to prefer workwear at home. At the end of the day, do what is most comfortable for you (please wear pants).
Setting Personal Boundaries
This point is the most difficult to master, not because of spouses, roommates, or children, but because of you. You need to have conversations with the people you live with about changes in daily schedules. Yet, your biggest enemy when working from home is, largely, yourself. Also, the occasional appearance from a child or pet humanizes everyone. The ability to work amid distraction is the sign of a veteran-remote employee. Some classic pitfalls include: the hour long 20-minute break, the extended snack run, and my personal favorite, the five hour nap. Lighthearted distractions aside, sometimes work needs to stop because of things that happen unexpectedly and that’s okay. Creating a personal/professional boundary in order to take care of things that happen in life is often instinctive and necessary.
Establish a Routine
Whether it’s putting on your work clothes or having lunch at two o’clock every day, find a way to make it through your day. Most of you are out of your element. Whether you are working remotely for the weekend or you’re in it for the long haul, figure out a loose plan for the day. Not to say that you need to finish everything on the list (unless you do), but create structure in the midst of something formless. Don’t forget to destress in your preferred manner at the end of the day.
We are not our work but working from home blurs the distinction between work and life, especially if you can’t leave the house. I know there are sections about boundaries, but this bears repeating: take care of yourself. Watch television, call a friend, go for a run, eat some ice cream, whatever it is that prepares you for the next day, do it.
About Tim Shin: Tim is a Q Roll Model for Quantum and lives in River Vale, NJ. He enjoys food, fashion, music and television. Click here to learn more about Tim.