Some people assume that working from home basically consists of comfortable pajamas, a comfy couch, and a laptop. The house is peacefully empty; you’re drinking out of your favorite coffee cup, and you’re calmly engaged in work at your own pace. For those who telework from home, this isn’t exactly the case.
Working from home can be a challenge to balance with the rest of your life. Expecting that working from home will be effortless can be the downfall for many people experimenting with a home office. Though there are many who struggle with the telework lifestyle, it can be extremely rewarding and as peaceful as people imagine it to be. However, it’s important to note that the transition isn’t as easy as you might think. Creating a balance between home life and work life is an imperative part of that transition.
Assessing Your Pain Points
Knowing how to balance life when you work from home has to do with understanding what is throwing off the balance in the first place. Everyone works from home a little differently, so everyone’s strengths and weaknesses fall in different areas. Your pain point might be waking up on time, staying productive, lacking discipline, losing a connection with colleagues, feeling lonely, being distracted, or a combination of a few things. If things aren’t working, try changing things up and taking advantage of tools that can remedy any telework issues you have.
If your problem is staying productive, you definitely aren’t alone. Working from home can be hard because your home isn’t usually the environment that reminds your body and mind it should be in a work mentality. Being home is usually a signal that you’re off work, so it’s about retraining yourself.
If you find yourself being less productive, give yourself a strict schedule and parameters. Some people can work on a couch with a TV on,. But for others, the key to working from home is staying in the home office without television. Schedule out your day and utilize some programs designed to help you stay busy. Battling with productivity is a common problem among people learning to work from home, but finding your pain points and working through them can lead to a successful and productive teleworking lifestyle.
Separating Home Responsibilities and Work Responsibilities
Sometimes doing telework from home can be a distraction because your home life and work life responsibilities tend to bleed together. Separating the two can be key in keeping the balance and ensuring you’re staying productive. Throwing a load of laundry in while you’re working is probably OK, but be sure not to get distracted by any cleaning, obligations, or errands that need to be done.
Work from home is still work, and training your mind to be in a work mindset during those hours is crucial. Separating those responsibilities is one way to keep the balance. Keeping employees engaged is extremely crucial for businesses, and employee engagement can skyrocket in a telework scenario if it’s done correctly. If you can keep the balance, you can benefit from an environment that you can control every aspect of and stay as engaged in your work as possible.
Being Conscious of Communication
Communication can be a major hurdle for people learning how to work from home. In an office setting, communication can be considerably easier. When you’re at home, you have to work a little harder at it. Stay in contact with your boss often, attend outside work functions if you can, and use collaborative tools meant to keep telework employees involved and engaged in work communication. Take advantage of the communication tools offered to you such as taking part in a conference call to listen in on meetings, engaging in chats and email strings, and being responsible for your role in being communicative. If you work for yourself, you might not have as many people to stay in communication with, but you can still take advantage of certain communication tools with clients.
It’s also important to note how the lack of interaction can affect your life balance at home. Working from home offers a lot of alone time that may be difficult for some to cope with. Ignoring social isolation of remote workers as a company will create disengaged employees and hurt productivity. If you’re feeling lonely or lacking interpersonal communication, be sure to create chats with work friends, take part in fun work functions, and fill the watercooler talk with other types of communication with peers outside of work. You’ll go from spending your off time at home to spending most of your time at home. Be sure to go on walks. Make plans with family and friends out of the house. And find other ways to communicate with people to battle cabin fever.
Knowing What Works and What Doesn’t
Working from home is an amazing opportunity for many types of people. For instance, in 2014 alone, about 43.6 million Americans 18 years or older (18.1 percent of the U.S. adult population) experienced some form of mental health problem. Some people who live with anxiety, for example, find that working from home is an option that eases the outside environmental influences that can trigger their anxiety. Other mental health struggles can be better managed with a flexible telework option. This allows companies to cater to many types of employees and find the environment that works best for everyone.
Try it out
Sometimes you really don’t know what works for you until you’ve tried it. Working from home can be rewarding if you find the situation that works best for you, whether that be working from a home office, keeping the television off, or creating a schedule for yourself. Maybe you work better from a cafe, on the couch, or earlier in the morning. If you’ve exhausted your efforts and still find telework to be distracting, lonely, or too disconnected, it might not be for you, and that’s OK, too. Finding the right balance can be difficult, and for some, it’s not doable. A traditional office offers the right structure and separation that some people require in order to be the best employee they can be.
Doing telework from home might not be all comfy clothes and couch offices for everyone. For some people, finding the balance between work life and home life is difficult when both of those things exist in the same location. Finding that separation is key for many people who struggle to stay productive, engaged, and clear of distractions. The key might be to find the pain points and to work through them. It also might be that telework isn’t for you. The transition can be difficult and the rewards are great. But if you’re much more comfortable and productive at a desk with easy access to your coworkers, you’re not alone.
Chelsy Ranard is a writer from Montana who graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about addiction recovery advocacy, loves talk radio, and prefers her coffee cold. Follow her on Twitter!