Welcome to today's office: Home, Sweet Home.
For more than one in five people last year, this was the case.
According to the most recent stats available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey, 22% of workers did some or all of their work from home during 2016.
With technological advances, people can now work from anywhere at anytime, and they can be just as productive as their in-office colleagues. The ability to work from home has also opened people's eyes to the option of becoming remote, independent contractors.
While working from home sounds like a dream, studies have shown that it has its ups and downs. For those interested in working remotely, or currently doing so, here are a few tips to help boost your effectiveness.
Be Tech Savvy
Familiarize yourself with the latest and greatest technological tools that can make you as accessible as possible to your co-workers and clients. For example, you can use Join.Me for virtual conferencing, Google Hangouts or Skype for video calls, Base for task management, and Dropbox for file sharing.
Connect with Co-workers
Working from home can make you feel isolated. True, isolation can have its advantages, especially when you need to bang out certain assignments. But such seclusion can become troublesome when you need to work in a team environment
Working remotely means you can avoid nagging co-workers, water-cooler talk and other distractions that may affect your productivity. But, working from home may lead to feelings of social isolation. When you're not face-to-face in a meeting, it's difficult to read how your co-workers are feeling about your performance, which can lead to self-doubt. Even virtually, you need to find ways to have a deeper connection with your co-workers.
Psychologist Dr. Michael Britt says, in an interview on Upwork.com, "You have to find a way to connect with your colleagues. If you're feeling frustrated or bored, find a GIF or emoticon to represent that, and share it with your co-workers. Engage in that non-work related banter. It's important."
If possible, set aside time to meet co-workers every other week for lunch or a drink. When you're feeling alone, work at a Starbucks to be around other people. When you're talking face-to-face only to your dog for a few days, it's time to find a networking event on Meetup and have a deeper conversation.
Set Office Hours
While some studies show that people who work from home experience less stress and exhaustion, others indicate that people find themselves managing more household responsibilities while still struggling to handle their full workload. Manage your time wisely.
Set a schedule that includes work time and personal time. In the same way you would schedule office meetings, schedule free time, lunch, and time to fold laundry. Be flexible for emergencies, flat tires, doctor's appointments and anything else life may throw your way. After all, you work from home partially for the freedom it brings.
Have a Dedicated Work Space
Ideally, you should have a room in your home that you only use for work. If you can't do that, set up a space to use solely as your office, and make it off-limits to anyone else. Having a designated work space is helpful for preventing personal tasks from spilling over into your work environment.
No Pajamas at Work!
Of course, one perk of working from home is the ability to wear whatever you want. But it's important that you get dressed in a professional manner – even if no one will be seeing your outfit. Studies show that there are real psychological benefits to wearing nicer clothes while you're working. These benefits include boosting your confidence level and helping you get into a business mindset. Don't necessarily suit up, but wear clothes that make you feel like a million bucks.
Create Routines and Rituals
Routines and rituals help structure your life, which is more important than ever when you work from home. This will help you separate your two lives by having routines you do during your personal time and routines you do in your office time.
For example, in the morning before you start working, take a shower, eat your breakfast and check your social media feeds. Be sure to set a time for when you'll be entering your office to start your day, and stick to that time! Create afternoon rituals such as a 30-minute lunch break and a 20-minute walk.
It's important to stick to the time you pick to end your day because it will become hard to peel away from the office. Have an after-work ritual that signifies you're on your own time, like playing a song to dance to, or leaving the house for a spin class.
Employees who work from home may be eligible for tax deductions that are not available to in-office workers. For example, if you work out of your own home office, you may be able to partially deduct home-related expenses – such as some of your electricity, phone and internet bills, mortgage interest, property taxes and homeowner's insurance. Keep your receipts. For independent contractors working from home, also speak to your bank or financial advisor about retirement plan options. For example, a SEP-IRA (Simplified Employee Pension Plan) allows you to make contributions in pre-tax dollars.
Randi Zucker is the Director of Expert Services at genconnectU.com. Randi has been working with brands on delivering key messages to customers and prospects regularly. She helps businesses grow their brand through quality and creative online content marketing. Randi has worked with hundreds of thought-leaders, experts, celebrities and companies on creating websites, landing pages, newsletters, videos, blogs and social media updates to grow their audience and reach their ROI. She also has been on "The Today Show," "Fox & Friends," "NY1," LA Times, AARP and multiple media outlets as an expert in online marketing.
*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Randi Zucker and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
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