Working from Home

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 Emily Childers 0 Comments

I'm in the middle of transitioning to a new position within my company, which has gotten me thinking a lot about how working from home has affected my career. I started my job working out of an office in California where my manager sat less than 10 feet away from me. After a few years, I moved to Las Vegas and continued working the same job, but from home.

Having a home office has been a blessing and a curse. I love having my own work space to spread out in. I can burn scented candles and play music at any volume without annoying my officemates. I can work all day in my pajamas and no one is the wiser. The same goes for wearing a bra, makeup, and general hygiene. No one has to know how busted I look (or smell). I can sit on an exercise ball and bounce around like an idiot and incite zero judgement. Well almost zero judgement, Koa gives me the side eye when I get too weird. I get to spend all day with the dogs and roll around on the floor with them when I get stressed out (rolling in puppies is a scientifically proven stress reliever).

Despite all of the perks, there are some serious drawbacks. While employees working from a physical office get plenty of face time with management, I'm stuck behind a virtual wall basically flailing my arms for attention. As an extrovert, I get majorly stir crazy if I don't make an effort to find human contact outside of the house. And mostly, I have no one looking over my shoulder to make sure I'm staying focused and have enough work to do.

Learning to self manage has been a continuing struggle. Slow days can easily slip by in a haze of internet articles and puttering around on the company intranet (oh look a 20 page travel policy document, let's read that!). As I've gotten better at reaching out for more responsibilities and creating my own initiatives I've noticed that my network has expanded exponentially and thus my workload has increased. There's a positive feedback loop that has driven me to keep improving and taking risks, and I'm so happy to finally be finding a rhythm.

Here's a summary of some of the things that have really helped me stay successful in a home office.

  • Keep your office space separate from your living space. My office is upstairs and the temptations of television, laundry, dishes, etc. are all downstairs and out of sight/mind.
  • Set hours and stick to them. If you're not a morning person (like me), make sure you have a set start time in the morning. Mine is 9:30am on days with no morning meetings, which feels like a treat and still sets me up for a full 8-9 hour workday without cutting into my evening.
  • Block websites that you catch yourself on too often. I downloaded a chrome plugin and blocked Reddit and a few shopping sites.
  • Set up a weekly check in meeting with your manager. Accountability is key.
  • Be proactive in making new connections. Ask your manager if your company has a mentoring group or support group for remote employees. Make a point to call or instant message new contacts instead of sticking strictly to email.
  • If you see something that can be improved, say something. Take the lead on crafting a solution and rolling out the improvement. The only way to get noticed is by standing out. Cliche much? :)
  • Make sure to get up and walk away from your desk throughout the day. It's hard not to feel chained to your desk, but you deserve the same breaks as every other employee. I try and eat my lunch downstairs away from my computer and get outside and do 10 minutes of yard work (i.e. scooping dog poop) in the afternoon to stretch my legs.

Obviously what works for me may not work for you. I'm still learning, but I figure as long as I'm always striving to be better that I'm on the right path.