Working From Home

This week, a lot more folks will be working from home than usual. I’ve talked to several friends and family lately about this. Some are looking forward to it, and others are dreading it. I drove into an office for 22 years, but I’ve spent the last five years mainly working from home. Here are a few things I learned along the way.

New Workspace, New Habits

If you are working from home for the first time, realize it is one of those golden opportunities to establish new habits. Maybe you need to take that time saved from not commuting to spend an hour each morning on your most significant project. Or perhaps you finally have an opportunity to sleep in just a bit, so you aren’t tired all day. Maybe it’s time to demote email to something you do at 11AM, leaving the rest of the morning to work on your deliverables. The point is, you are going to develop a whole set of new habits, so why not do it intentionally?

Time Gained. Time Lost.

You just got some time back. You don’t need to commute. You will attend far fewer meetings. You don’t need to make the morning rounds to talk to everyone at the office. How are you going to use that? Likewise, you are going to spend time you didn’t before. Maybe you are now taking care of the dog, or you have small kids at home. Working from home will both give and take away time. Sit down and figure out the math on your own time and determine how you are going to deal with both sides of that equation. This week would be an excellent opportunity to track time to keep yourself honest. Figuring out where your time goes and how you allocate it is essential for working from home. You don’t have someone looking over your shoulder, so you have to supervise yourself. It’s liberating once you figure it out.

Be Proactive

Remember that the job is to work at home. If you want to keep paying the rent, you’ve got to deliver. Don’t sit in front of the TV and wait for your boss and co-workers to dole out work. Nobody is there keeping track of who arrives first or leaves last. They are just looking for who can move the ball forward. Be proactive. Use your new freedom to find and solve work-related problems without meetings and office politics. Prove to everyone (including yourself) that you don’t need someone looking over your shoulder.

We are in the midst of a massive work-from-home experiment. Nobody expected this to happen, but it did. If you can build your own habits, use your time wisely, and be proactive. It could change the way you work forever, whether you work from home for just a few weeks or the next few decades.