Working from home became a rapid requirement for many former office workers in 2020. If you are struggling to focus at your desk or having a hard time avoiding interruptions, making sure that your workspace is as defined as possible is key.
Define Your Space
If you don’t have an office or are sharing the space, defining the space could be challenging. A simple tool could include a standing screen that you can use as a
- A place to post your hours for your family
- use the screen as a cubicle wall or a spot to hang a bulletin board
- a tool to set out when your shift starts
Your definition of the space where you work may also include adding a coffee pot or at least a thermos so you can avoid the rest of the house. If you haven’t usually taken regular work breaks, use a timer that will remind you to take your breaks as needed.
Set a Starting Ritual
If your home is crowded or your office is tucked in the corner of a room, creating a starting ritual can make it easier to launch your day. Put on a pair of noise-blocking headphones and invest in the best blue light blocking glasses that will allow you to protect your eyes and launch your day.
When you are swapping projects or moving back to your regular life for a time, create a different starting ritual. Getting up to get a glass of water, tend to a child or make some fresh coffee, take the time to wash your face, lotion your hands or stretch before returning to the office.
When you return to your working space later in the day, a second starting ritual such as firing up a diffuser with a fragrance that will help you focus can make the second part of the day easier.
Let Family Know When You Are Unavailable
Having mom or dad home but unavailable can be extremely confusing for small children. If need be, you may need to hang a colored sign on your desk, your office door, or your room divider to keep children from lingering or getting upset because they cannot reach you.
For children also trying to go to school while a parent is trying to work, setting some hard and fast time constraints can be helpful. If a child is struggling with schoolwork, you will want to do your best to encourage them to work on projects they can do on their own without interrupting you.
It is also a good idea to ask children to create a list of what they worked on before asking for help. This process of documenting their work can assist your child to make different choices the next time they hit a roadblock during their schooling from home.
Hold Fast to Your Quitting Time
Many employees trying to work from home can come to feel that work is always a default behavior whenever they have downtime, or that they owe their employer more time to prove that they are striving. However, your schedule at home should not have to flex to cover excessively challenging projects.
If you punch a clock and are paid by the hour, your office should be able to track your starting time and whether or not you are online when needed to be. Should you receive an urgent product late in the day, make sure that your employer knows of any schedule limitations. If your schedule challenges cannot be met, it may be time to talk to HR or your direct supervisor.
If you are paid by the project and get work at odd hours, make sure that you are tracking the time that you are putting in. If you have to work late nights or get up very early, do your best to take this time back at other times in the day.
A work-from-home setup can be extremely beneficial to both employees and employers, but the requirements and expectations of all parties, including the family members of the employee, need to be carefully studied to make sure that everyone is getting the support they need to make this challenging transition successfully.