The Ultimate Guide to Working From Home
Learn everything you need to know to work remotely. From setting up your home office, to the benefits of working remotely.
Working from home is becoming more and more popular. Especially for office workers who produce most of their work on a computer. Working from home has a huge range of benefits. And it is definitely the future of working. But it has its downsides as well.
Working from home, sometimes also called remote working, allows for a better work-life balance, more flexibility, and a calmer work environment. But, it can also be isolating, and it can be difficult to manage your own time.
To help you find the perfect work from home balance, here is the ultimate guide to working from home.
How To Get Started Working From Home
Before planning to work from home, it’s important to consider whether this is a possible reality for you. Most jobs will allow for a level of home or remote working.
But this isn’t the case for all jobs. If, for example, you work in an office but have a role that is client-facing. You will likely be able to spend some days working remotely. Others will require you to be in the office. Especially if your clients prefer in-person meetings.
So, if working from home full time is your primary ambition, then it might be a good idea to consider changing your career path. This can be difficult and a little overwhelming. But, if you believe it will be the best change in your life, then you should absolutely go ahead with it. Here are some top tips for finding the right work from home fit.
Freelance work has become incredibly popular in the last few years. Freelancing is usually associated with creative roles. But this doesn’t have to be the case. A huge number of roles can be converted into freelance jobs. This can include creative jobs, such as writing or illustration, consultancy, and marketing.
If you have worked in a certain role for several years, then freelancing might be the next step for you. As a freelancer, you will be self-employed and so responsible for your own time. But you will also be responsible for finding work and creating a network of clients. As well as the administrative and financial side of things.
Freelancing also offers great flexibility. As you work for yourself, but aren’t responsible for any employees, you can work whenever you like. So, if you can afford to, you can take a week (or a month) off from work whenever you want.
This is, however, the double-edged sword of freelancing. Depending on your work, your output can come in waves. There can be months when you have no work whatsoever. And others where you are inundated with requests. Finding the right balance is integral. To learn more, check out this article on freelancer productivity tips.
If your work is seasonal, for example, wedding photography, you can only work seasonally. Or you can work on more personal projects during the off-season.
Freelancing is also a good option if you feel that you have outgrown your current corporate role, but don’t quite feel ready to start your own business. As a freelancer, you can develop the organizational, time management, and administrative skills to grow your own business. Then move on to establishing your own company.
Open A Business
If freelancing doesn’t quite seem like the best option for you, then you can look into setting up your own business. This is an incredibly risky but incredibly exciting endeavor. Opening your own business means taking control of your time and your profits. But it can also mean working longer hours and putting in more work. Especially at the beginning.
Starting a business is also a huge risk. If you have been working in a certain industry for years and know that you can set up your own business with your own niche. Then it’s worth exploring. Just make sure that you have every potential outcome considered before you jump. As well as everything you need in place. It’s not a good idea to leave a good job to be your own boss if you don’t have the potential to pull it off.
If you have the skills, experiences, and ambition to be your own boss, then starting your own business can be a great way to work from home.
You will be in complete control of your production.
You can make your own hours, work whenever and wherever you want, and essentially regain control of your life. This will likely change if you grow and hire employees. But that is a bridge you can cross when you get to it.
Start A New Career
If you’re not in a position to freelance or start your own business, another way to begin working from home is to find a new job. More and more companies are encouraging working from home. This is because it lowers their expenses as they don’t have to pay rent for an office space, provide parking spots, general maintenance, or other bills.
Another reason companies are encouraging remote working is because it increases productivity. This is because employees are drawn into fewer unnecessary meetings, people can control their own schedules, and it reduces distractions (to an extent).
Working from home also has many benefits for employees as well. So there’s a good chance that remote working will be listed as a benefit in the job advertisement. If it isn’t, you can always contact the hiring manager for information. Or, if you reach the interview stage, you can also ask questions about working arrangements.
Make sure to read on to the sections below for a list of the best jobs that allow remote working. As well as the wide range of benefits associated with remote working.
Setting Up Working From Home
To successfully work from home, it’s important to have a dedicated workspace. If you have little room in your home, working at the kitchen table will not be completely detrimental to your work. But, if you have the space, then it’s a good idea to create the most efficient workspace in your home.
Here are the major factors to consider when setting up your remote workspace:
Find A Dedicated Space In Your Home
This one is super important. If you have the space, then creating a home office is a superb idea. It will allow you to separate your work life from your home life. Setting up a home office can also be great fun. Especially if you enjoy interior design.
Unlike in a corporate office, you can style your own office to your specific tastes. So you won’t have to be stuck working at a cheap plastic desk in an uncomfortable chair.
Having a dedicated workspace is also beneficial if you have a partner or children. It will allow them to know when you’re intently working and when you are more freely available. It will also help them detach you from your work self. Few of us interact with people at home in the same way that we do at work. So having the distinction is incredibly important.
If you don’t have the space for a home office, the most beneficial thing you can do is pack away your workspace at the end of the day. This might seem like unnecessary work. But just putting your laptop away in your bag. Or your desktop away in a closet will have a tremendous impact. If you don’t, then you will have your work life impeding on your personal life.
Just having your laptop on the kitchen table when you’re cooking dinner. Or on the coffee table while you watch TV in the evening can be detrimental. Putting your workspace away will allow you to have a distinction between your work life and personal life. It will also stop you from being tempted to do extra work off the clock.
Get A Good Desk
As mentioned above, creating your own workspace means you can add in furniture that suits your style and needs. This can mean investing in a standing desk, a beautiful wooden desk, or a colorful desk that brightens up your workday. You are no longer restricted to company colors or corporate budgets. Also, your company might allow you to claim back the cost (or a proportion of it).
Get A Good Chair
This is also great to bring your own style into your workspace. But it can also help in more practical ways. You will be able to invest in a good quality office chair that will give you the best comfort and support.
So, if you have problems with your back, need a specifically designed chair for a disability, or just need something at a specific height, you have complete control. You might also be able to claim back the cost of this chair. Especially if you need one with a specific shape and style.
Get Some Lighting In The Room
Lighting is something that few people consider, but really should.
Good lighting is necessary to help you see your work clearly. But it can also help you to stop straining your eyes. This is especially important if your job requires a lot of reading or staring at a screen.
Good lighting can mean a specially designed lamp that will help prevent eyestrain, especially when working on a computer. Or it can be setting up your workspace in an area of your home that receives a good amount of natural light.
Natural sunlight and vitamin D are incredibly important. Especially as working from home means cutting out your regular commute. This means that you won’t be getting the regular fresh air, sunlight, and vitamin D that we all need to stay healthy.
Set Aside a Place for Gadgets
One of the fundamental problems with working from home is that no one can see you. So you don’t feel as though anyone will notice you taking a sneaky look at your phone. But this can become detrimental to work if you don’t try to manage your breaks.
Have a dedicated space for your devices. This can just be the other side of the room. Or, if you really don’t trust yourself, it can mean giving your device to your partner or roommate to look after.
You can even invest in a safe with a timer. This is a last resort option. (But it is one that many people need.)
How to Work Effectively From Home
Working from home has a vast range of benefits. But these benefits can only be realized if you work effectively and stick to your schedule and goals. Here are some tips for working effectively and efficiently from home.
Establish Ground Rules
These can be rules for yourself, your colleagues, your manager, or all three. These rules can simply be basic contract obligations such as the number of work hours and how long your lunch break will be.
If you work for yourself, then this can create your own work schedule. A routine is the best structure for most people. So finding the time when you work best is important. And so is sticking to this routine.
Set Up A Functional Workspace
If you can’t set up a fun and stylish workspace, then at the very least your workspace needs to be functional. This doesn’t just mean having a computer. It also means sitting in a chair that supports your back. And having a desk that is at the right height and strength.
This also means having the correct work accessories. For example, a work phone or the right tools if you’re an artist. It also means finding the right atmosphere for the most efficient work.
Make Sure You Have A Good Internet Speed
This is super important. If you are planning on working from home, then check your internet speed. Do it now. Your internet speed might seem perfectly fine now. But you likely spend most of your time just scrolling online or streaming movies and TV shows.
Working from home is going to require a much stronger and faster internet connection. This will make online meetings easier. But also help if you use specific software for your work.
We have already mentioned creating an ideal working atmosphere. And this is really important. But not everyone can work in the same environment.
For example, some people can only focus in silence, which can be a reason for wanting to work from home. Whereas others get distracted and unnerved by silence and can only work with a low buzz of white noise.
Whichever atmosphere you prefer, it’s important to minimize distractions. This can mean putting on headphones so that your partner or roommates know that you’re working. Or it can mean putting your phone on silent or turning it off.
If you have children or roommates who don’t work, you might have to block out the sound of the TV or other noises. One way to do this is by putting on noise-cancelling headphones. But this isn’t a good idea if you have small children. As you will always need to have one eye and ear out for them.
Plan Extra Social Interactions
Minimizing distractions and working as efficiently as possible is important. But working from home can also cause you to work too much. Especially as you won’t be commuting. It can be tempting to spend that extra time finishing off a project.
But this really isn’t a good idea. Burnout is real, and it is difficult to deal with. And so is the guilt of not working. This kind of working can also be incredibly isolating. You will often miss those five minutes you spent having a quick chat with a colleague at the coffee machine or on the walk to a meeting.
Working from home should mean that you have more free time. So make the most of it.
Don’t work for too long. This will only cause you to become overly tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. All of which will stop you from producing your best work. So it is detrimental in the long run.
Enjoy your life outside of work. No matter how important your work is.
Jobs You Can Do From Home
This one can be a little trickier, as you will need more space. But if you have a big enough table, big enough computer screen, and all the tools that you need, then you can work from home.
Consulting can easily be done from home. But will usually require a lot of client meetings. So you will need to maintain a professional appearance most of the time (so you won’t usually get away with working in your pajamas). You will also need a strong internet connection for these meetings.
If you start your own crafting or creative business, you can pretty much do this entirely at home. Especially if your business is on a small enough scale to not require other employees. This will require some computer work for selling, interacting with customers, and marketing. But you will mostly be able to spend your time away from a screen.
Tips for the Work-at-Home Life
So, now that you are determined to work from home, here are some of the best tips for making sure you make the most of your time. (But don’t spend all of your time working.)
Stick To Your Work Schedule
This can be a schedule that you have agreed with your manager. Or it can be one that you have created yourself. Identify when you are most productive. And work within those boundaries. This will ensure that you can ride waves of energy and productivity. You will produce your best work, rather than force through work that will only need editing or redoing.
Sticking to your schedule and creating a routine will help with your productivity. But it will also help your mental health. Sticking to a routine can help calm stress and anxiety. Especially if you have your day planned out in advance. (Plus, this can also help the work day pass more quickly.)
Beware Of Workaholic Tendencies
Working from home risks blurring the boundaries between your personal life and your work life. But, even if you enjoy your work, you need time to switch off. Working from home frees up time, mostly from your commute. But also from meetings and other delays during the day that you would otherwise experience in the office.
When it comes to missing unnecessary meetings, you can repurpose this time for work. But when it comes to your commute, use this as free personal time. Unless you own your own business, your employer only pays you for the hours that you work. If you spend more than your agreed hours working, then you will not be paid for it. And your personal life and mental health can deteriorate.
No matter how important your work is, it’s incredibly important to find a healthy work-life balance. Even if you absolutely adore your work, you shouldn’t be living to work. You should work to live. And any pleasure and enjoyment that comes with that work is a bonus.
Beware of Slacking Off Work
On the flip side, working from home can also cause you to slack off more. If you don’t feel like anyone is watching your or tracking your hours, it can be tempting to work less than your agreed hours.
But it’s important to remember that “slacking off” doesn’t necessarily mean that you are lazy. Some people thrive in a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 environment. But not everyone works well in those conditions. Working from home means that you can acknowledge when your mind begins to drift. So you can stop working, go for a walk around the park, and then come back refreshed.
This will help to ease any stress you feel from trying to work when you’re not feeling motivated.
Separate The Professional From the Personal
When it comes to home working, separating your professional life from your personal life is essential. If you don’t, then the likelihood will be that your work will become the primary focus of your life, and you will not be able to switch off from it.
When working in an office, you leave your work there when you leave for the day. And only pick it up again when you return in the morning. But when working from home, it is much easier to take a quick call in the evening or catch up on some work over the weekend.
The opposite, where your personal life invades your work life, is also possible. Especially if you have young children who are at home often. But this is very rarely the case.
The best thing to do is to have a separate workspace (as covered above). But also to have set hours when you work. So that you know when to switch off. If you have a tendency to overwork, then set a timer or use a project management tracker.
This will also help at the end of the day or week. You will be able to look over all the hours you have spent working, as well as the work you have completed, and (hopefully) see just how much you have done.
This will give you a sense of accomplishment that you might not otherwise feel if you aren’t conscious of your work. So you can finish your work knowing that you have done enough and deserve your free time.
Benefits of Working From Home
Working from home appears it is here to stay. And will probably become the most popular working style in the coming years. So, if you’re not yet convinced that home working is for you, here are just some of the major benefits of working from home.
Better Work-Life Balance
With no commute, you will have more free time. You also won’t need to get up to get ready any earlier. This means you can spend more time working out, having breakfast with your family, or just having another hour lie in.
You will also be able to spend more time with your family and friends in the evening. Knowing that you can have more control over your hours and structure your own work day.
Less Commute Stress
When working from home, you can tumble out of bed at 8:55 and start working. Rather than waking up at 5:30 to run to catch a train that will be overly filled and probably late.
You also won’t have to worry about being late for work because of busy traffic when your route to work is only a few steps.
Home working is sometimes referred to as “remote working”, but this can be a little different. Remote working means you can work wherever you like. If you feel that your distinction between your home and your work is blurring, you can go to work in a coffee shop or library. Or in whichever location you are most comfortable and productive.
This is often a surprising benefit for many people. But home working can broaden the job prospects of many people. This includes people with disabilities who otherwise could not work in an office or need more flexible hours. It can also broaden the scope for employees as companies can hire across the country, if not around the world.
You Might Save Money
This can be gas money, bus fare, or buying your lunch when you’re at the office. Your home electricity and heating bills will increase. But you should be able to claim home working tax breaks. Or you can ask your employer to subsidize these costs.
Positive Environmental Impact
With a reduced commute, there will be fewer cars and buses on the roads. So there will be a greater reduction in fumes and pollution. But, as mentioned above, there will be an increase in your use of heating, electricity, and water in your home. So, there is yet to be a final verdict on the environmental impact and sustainability of home working.
A Customizable Office
This is definitely one of the best things about working from home. Especially if you have your own home office. You will be able to decorate and style it however you like. This can improve your comfort and productivity.
A Happier, Healthier Work Life
Generally speaking, having control over your hours, having more free time, and being in a peaceful and personal environment will make your job much nicer. Working from home allows for a healthier and happier work life. Away from the gray corporate drudgery of most offices.
Working from home has a vast range of benefits. This includes productivity. But most of the benefits are for workers’ personal lives. Home working allows for a healthier work-life balance, saving money on travel and food, and having your own styled workspace that fits your tastes.
That said, there are some drawbacks to home working. Such as a feeling of isolation. As well as employees feeling as though they can’t as easily reach out to ask questions and get help.
But you can easily rectify these drawbacks. The benefits of home working definitely outweigh the negatives.
Home working is, without a doubt, the future.