Working at home comes with a lot of perks. You can work in your pajamas, be flexible with your hours, and take breaks whenever you want, all in the comfort of your own home. But the question is, should you be doing these things? While there’s no doubt that working at home has the potential to increase productivity, certain habits acquired while working at home can actually decrease productivity. The conveniences of videoconferencing software have made the privilege of telecommuting possible. Use it responsibly by avoiding these five work-at-home no-nos.
Setting Up Shop in Bed (or Your Kitchen, or Your Living Room)
There are a lot of comfortable places in your home: your bed, of course, but also maybe the couch in your living room and the breakfast nook in your kitchen. It’s important to be comfortable when you’re working, and you might be tempted to work in one of these spaces. The problem in that these spaces are more designed for relaxing, not working. Instead of trying to get work done in a space meant for other activities, set up a designated work space, such as an office or, if that isn’t possible, a desk and chair in the corner of a quiet room. You’ll be able to focus better because your mind will associate that space with being productive.
Working Odd Hours
Your telecommuting situation gives you some flexibility in your work schedule. You could do a little work in the morning, clean the bathrooms in the afternoon and finish up your workday in the evening. But to stay on track it’s best to keep regular work hours rather than breaking them up throughout the 24 hours in a day. If your coworkers are working a 9 to 5 schedule, you should be too (or roughly that; 7 to 4 or 10 to 6 would also be acceptable). The idea here is to keep yourself in “work mode” and also make yourself more available to coworkers and clients who might need to get in touch during those hours.
Misusing Your Break Time
Everyone needs regular breaks during the workday. Scheduling breaks is as important for telecommuters as it is for in-office workers. Yet break time can be much more accessible for people who work at home. Oh, sure, you can just stop for 20 minutes to play a game on the Xbox or take your dog for a walk… and suddenly, a full hour has passed. Keeping careful track of break time, and choosing break time activities that don’t eat up your day, are two key ways to maintain control of your work schedule.
Staying in Your PJs
This is probably the hardest “don’t” in this article. Being able to wear your PJs all day seems like a given when you’re working from home. However, just like the space you decide to work in, what you decide to wear also determines your mindset. If you go throughout your day and never change from your PJs into work clothes, mentally you’ll feel as relaxed and detached from work as you did when you went to bed. Make it part of your morning routine to act as though you were heading to the office: shower, brush your teeth, and dress for the part.
If you complete projects on time and don’t hear any complaints, that’s a good thing. But if you’re getting your work done and not interacting with your peers, you’re not fully doing your job. Part of work is being social with coworkers and your boss: checking in about new projects, exchanging ideas, and getting feedback. For employees who work at home 5 days a week, neglecting to check in could make them forget that you even exist. Take it upon yourself to connect with your peers so you stay in the loop and your good work gets recognized.
Even if you eliminate these five bad habits, there are still a lot of benefits to working at home. If you have a child, you can stay home with them and save on daycare; you’ll never forget your lunch again; and you can easily run a quick errand near your house on break time. Just remember that working at home is still work. Hold yourself accountable to fulfilling your duties, and you’ll reap the benefits of being both at home and at work.