Work from Home
As technology becomes more and more accessible, the option to telecommute, or work from home, is increasing in popularity. The United States Department of Labor believes that by the year 2025, up to two-thirds of all Americans could be working from home. If you already work at home, you are one of more than 52 million home-based workers in North America. Though this option may not be feasible in every role, it is worth considering how it can impact your employees and your business: improving their work/life balance, keeping your best employees loyal to your company and improving business productivity.
When my meeting schedule allows it, I try to fit in one work from home day per week. Though it was an adjustment at first [miserable conference call connections, anyone?], I can happily say that I’ve experienced a number of benefits from this arrangement and have developed habits that make working from home a success.
All of us have laundry to do, dishes to wash and other things on their home “honey do” list. If not prepared, it is easy to get caught up in tasks you have to do as you are walking by to make another cup of coffee, and your work productivity can suffer. Making a to-do list of work projects I need to complete the day before my work from home day is very helpful. Nine times out of ten, the items on my list are completed by the time I sign off that day. Sure, there are distractions, but the fact that I have a home office set up in a separate room of the house is another way to keep distractions at a minimum.
It’s easy to roll out of bed 20 minutes before signing on to work and then logging on unshowered and in your pajamas. I’ve tried it. And while I appreciated the extra sleep and flexibility at the time, I’ve found I am not in the right mind-set. Being disciplined enough to treat my work from home days as a true work day, I’ve found that following the usual routine of getting up, exercising, eating breakfast and getting ready for my day puts me in a better place.
Another habit I’ve adopted is scheduling breaks. A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion. Throughout my days at home, I’ve started setting my alarm in 90-minute increments. This allows me to walk away for a few minutes, maybe accomplish a few of the home tasks mentioned in the section above on productivity and recharge. I’ve found that this allows me to look at the project I am working on with a new perspective, and the break re-energizes me.
My commute is two hours long each day. I’ve adjusted over the years to the traffic, ramped up my iTunes playlist to stay entertained, and am thankful to Bluetooth for allowing me time to catch up with friends hands-free, but the one thing I haven’t adjusted to is leaving before my kiddo wakes up in the morning and not being around to help with parental duties. I give my husband loads of credit for all he does to get a 7-year-old little girl out the door [“No, Dad. I want to wear my hair like this today…”] and on the school bus on time, but to be present for her to stop by for a quick morning hug is an amazing thing [and tying her hair up in a ponytail takes all of 2 seconds].
When given the ability to offer employees a work/life balance and the chance to develop job skills if given the opportunity to work from home, businesses should test this concept. In a world where companies are offering benefits that are outside the norm, the option to work from home helps keep companies relevant and competitive in the employment marketplace.
Now, if anyone can give me tips on how to motivate my administrative assistant, I’d appreciate it. He’s really fallen behind on his filing duties.