If you weren’t familiar with working from home before 2020, there’s a pretty good chance that you are in 2021. In fact, office work has blended so much into a WFH/blended style that most office workers are all too familiar with the doing it already (according to one survey, about 1 in 3) – so why bother writing about it when the world and all of its dusty office spaces are opening back up again?
Well, the truth is that working from home can be a great addition to your work life. It can provide balance with your personal time as well as save a good amount of money, but there are also some aspects of it to consider and be aware of when taking the opportunity to do so.
This (slightly different) Framework blog post is going to cover the the ups and downs of working from home, how to stay motivated and productive when your new office is your spare bedroom, and how best to avoid the pitfalls that come along with it all.
Why do we like working from home?
Like everything, WFH isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for those that do enjoy it, the reasons are obvious. Primarily, it comes down to work-life balance.
You probably know what is meant by this – you come home after a long day at the office, you’re mentally drained, your eyes are heavy , you’re hungry but you’re either too tired to make something decennt or you forgot to take something out of the freezer from the night before so you order something online and stare at the TV screen for the next three hours until bed time rolls around and you have to get up to do all over again in the next 8 hours.
Anyone else? That’s not just me, right?…
Over an extended period, this cycle of working until you’re too tired to do much else by the time your second commute of the day is over can be detrimental to many aspects of your life. Responsibilities can be shunned, your social or romantic life can take a hit, not to mention your mental and physical health.
A proper WFH set up can provide the productivity of a work office with the comfort and familiarity of home to ensure that your mind isn’t in one place or the other at any one time. On top of this – and this may not count to those with children or pets – working from home can bring with it a different kind of focus not available in the office. Without the overflow of office dramas or conversation, when it’s just you and your desk plant, you’re free to let your mind focus and your creativity flow.
WFH Tip #1: Working from home can sometimes mean you forget to stay in touch with nature, whether that’s because you don’t have that much natural light in your working space or because you’ve forgotten to leave your home for a few days. Replace the Rubix cube or the stress ball with a desk plant and you’ll always have a little touch of nature in your working space, something that grows and flourishes with time as you do. It also serves as a little reminder to step outside of your home and into nature, especially when things get stressful or overwhelming.
This does all depend, however, on a ‘proper’ WFH set up which varies from person to person but scour the internet long enough and you’ll see that there are some similarities between the mobile workers of the world and their working habits.
Create a designated workspace
One of the most important parts of working from home is creating a separation between your workspace and your personal space. According to Statista research, over a quarter of respondents said that their biggest struggles of remote work came from not being able to ‘unplug’ and it’s likely that these are those who didnt have a designated workspace and began to conflate their workspace wiith their living or relaxing area.
Having a dedicated place in your home to work helps you stay in the right frame of mind for working and gives that clear separation between work and home life. All of this results in a much easier transition from work and allows you to switch off much easier than you could if you relaxed in the same place that you worked.
Obviously, not everyone is fortunate enough to have spare rooms to work in, but in 2021 you’re never too far from the next best thing – coffee shops. Lock down notwithstanding, coffee shops are the best option for those who don’t have premium space in their homes to work in. Not only do they provide freshly made coffees and hot chocolates, but these places are virtually designed with remote workers in mind, with booths and cubicles equipped with plug sockets and good WiFi. Naturally, you have to make a purchase if you want to earn your place at your local Starbucks or Nero, but the money you’re spending on hot beverages is easily comparable to the money you’re saving on your own electricity bill – I know where I’d rather put my money…
WFH Tip #2 – If you plan on working from home on a more permanent basis, it’s likely that you’re going to be using a lot more of your electricity to power and charge your devices. On top of all the electricity that you use daily, this can really add up and if you’re on a fixed rate for the electricity you might end up using more than you’re being charged. Update your meter readings accordingly to match your new usage so that you don’t end up in debt with utility companies. On a similar token, if you top up your electricity, keep an eye on how much you’re using and explore how to reduce electricity usage to compensate for the increased use from work.
Keeping a good work routine
Effective working in an office comes from knowing that there are people there to keep you on your toes and on top of your work. When you’re working from home, there isn’t that same beady eye that stops you from slacking.
Effective working from home is a result of becoming that person that keep on top your own work. It can be easy at first to allow yourself later starts in the day (and this may work best for you, not everyone is at their most productive in the morning) but it’s just as important to ensure that however you do work, there is some kind of routine behind it all.
Remember to take breaks. These can be pre-planned throughout the day according to what you have planned, or they can be for when your eyes start to strain a little. It’s important to listen to your body when you’re working, regardless of whether you’re in an office or at home so give yourself time to get up, walk around, give yourself a different view for a few minutes to refresh your mind, maybe even do some stretches – all that sitting down isn’t good long term either!
Creative sessions can vary in length and sometimes you just can’t be stopped when you’re in the middle of doing what you’re best at, but even during or after these long bouts of creative energy make sure to give yourself a mental break or else you risk burnout.
You’d be surprised at how good the office chatter is at focusing your brain at times. If you’re used to working in more of an active environment, replicate this with white noise or music. There are whole genres of ambient noises you can use to focus your attention on your work, all it take is a quick google search.
Working from home has had its renaissance year and is unlikely to fully go away after 2020, so take these tips away with you in the likely scenario that you find your spare room as your makeshift office half of the working week.
Framework Marketing is a digital marketing brand rooted firmly in the construction industry. To see how you can expand your brand, visit the Framework Marketing website here and check out our latest blog post here.