Managing At-Home Workday: Photo with Cat and Computer

By Susan Noell, Director of Professional Services, HCM Solutions

We’ve all heard about the new workplace that is steadily replacing office spaces and overheads that are no longer worth the cost. Working primarily from home will soon become commonplace for many business – especially since most of us are now outfitted with the proper equipment to make that possible.

With that on the horizon, the question now becomes: How do we manage our days so we’re just as productive at home as we are in the office?

Here are some tips based on my experience.

Separate your workspace from your home space

When you’re at work but you haven’t left your home, it’s difficult to separate yourself from those things that provide you with stimulation when you’re off the clock. It’s difficult to avoid working in rooms of the house that provide distractions. The living room houses all your favorite books, the dining room is where all your bills lay, waiting for you to pay them, and in the kitchen are those brownies you made the night before, calling out to you for breakfast.

Creating a workspace for yourself, separate from the chaos and distraction that is your home life, clears your head so you’re ready to take on the workday. Not only that, it gives you a sense of structure. When you’re constantly moving your laptop to other rooms in the house because you’ve yet to create a separate workspace for yourself, you lose some of the stability that comes with having a designated cubicle or office to escape to. If you’re going to be working from home for the long haul, invest in a desk and a chair and put it in front of a window with a nice view. You’ll thank yourself when at the end of the day, you can turn off your computer and leave that space with a sense of finality.

Quitting time means actually quitting

Five o’clock rolls around and most people still have an hour or two of work left before they can feel satisfied with shutting down their computers and logging off. Some people don’t even log off, continuing to stay “on” throughout the majority of the evening and weekend. It’s imperative that we implement quitting time within our at-home workspace! If we don’t, our home sanctuaries, where we were once able to escape from work, lose their sanctuary appeal. When you decide that your workday will be done at 6:00 pm, it takes conscious effort to ensure you stick to that plan. If you’re able to follow through with this plan, you’ll find that your home sanctuary will still provide comfort.

Be conscious about your human interaction

With the world slowly opening up but you still at home, it’s time now to branch out and meet with clients and coworkers in person or make a conscious effort to set up video conferences. The benefits of seeing people in person becomes less about watercooler time, or office socialization, and more about time spent actively brainstorming and collaborating. We lose so much of that association when we can’t see one another’s body languages or facial expressions.

So many good ideas happen when sitting around with coworkers and partners, bouncing proposals and thoughts off one another. This time also allows us to build a rapport that connects employees to one another emotionally and contributes to the culture of an organization.

Don’t let work become your whole life

Whether or not working from home is going to be a permanent, long-term solution for your organization, making sure you’re set up for success in the meantime isn’t just about working hard. By creating a separate workspace, making sure to end the day at an appropriate time, and ensuring you still have a face to face time with coworkers and clients, you’ll adapt more quickly to future of the workplace.