At the start of the year, a large portion of the workforce found themselves working from home after years of working from the office. In the beginning, this move may have seemed like a great thing, with more time to spend around the house and with your family. Months into the pandemic, some of us have begun to realize that working from home has not been the piece of cake we previously imagined.
While many of us are overjoyed to be able to spend more time with our roommates and partners, we also are realizing that being surrounded by the people we love during the work hours isn’t always ideal. Concentrating on spreadsheets and word documents becomes a lot harder when we know our friends and family are in the other room.
Have honest conversations with your housemates. If they are constantly interrupting your work, gently explain to them that you are having difficulty concentrating when they do so, and let them know what will happen if you don’t finish your work that day (a report will be late, your boss will call you to ask what’s going on, you’ll miss a client’s deadline, etc.).
If you realize you are the one who is the distraction, let your household know you want them to hold you accountable if you get off task and start to socialize. Having an accountability partner can help hold you up to your normal work standards.
Create a Comfortable Environment
A lot of people who were unexpectedly thrown into working from home made do with their normal household furnishings. Perhaps you are using the kitchen table as your workspace, or maybe you have taken to answering e-mails from your bed. We have reached a point where, like it or not, we may be working from home for a lot longer than we initially expected.
Set aside a little extra money to invest in some quality home office furniture. Buy a desk that is functional for your job duties. Spend a few extra dollars on a comfortable desk chair to replace the worn one you’ve been using since college. Consider buying some extras like a bulletin board and file organizer to help your work stay tidy and easily accessible.
You don’t need to go overboard and completely redecorate, but you want to create a space that reminds you it is time to work.
Give Yourself “Office Hours”
One unexpected outcome of working from home is that employees, as a whole, are even more productive than they were in the office environment. The New York Times states that many companies experienced an initial increase in productivity. While that might be good for your employer (and paycheck) in the short-term, unhealthy work-home boundaries can have consequences.
Working long hours can quickly lead to burnout, so be sure to establish clear cutoff times for working. Try to stick to your normal office work schedule as much as possible. You will be better able to focus during your “office hours” and not feel guilty about ending work on time.
If you find yourself still facing challenges with working from home, considering asking your coworkers and employer about suggestions. Your employer may even be able to cover some of the costs for renovating your home office space.