As a freelance writer, with more than 10 years of experience working from home under my belt, I had to learn how to survive working from home. I feel I can contribute with my experiences and honest opinions to the ongoing debate about the future of the workplace and how we conduct work in general. It seems that the world started to separate our lives into before and after COVID-19.
Before the global pandemic, the only people who worked online were either Millennials, continuously sitting in cafes, hunched over their laptops sipping coffee, and the other group — freelancers, like me, writing from home, trying to self-publish, in their pajamas, also drinking coffee, but, by gallons.
Both groups were part of the informal economy, doing their work part-time, not well-respected, getting paid occasionally, after a gig has finished.
Don’t get me wrong, money was great sometimes. But, all in all, a lot of work had to be put in for the little reward.
After COVID-19 a lot has changed. People are even wondering, not when, but if we are ever going to return to the way things were before.
Now everybody is at home. Some have lost their jobs, some had to adjust their life and start working from home. The whole family had to prepare for a coronavirus emergency, dogs included. And now people are starting to see what it is like. They started to understand fast that working from home is a whole new ballgame with new rules to obey if you’re going to survive working from home.
- 1 How Working From Home works?
- 2 What Working From Home is really like?
- 3 Benefits of Working From Home?
- 4 Is Working From Home more productive?
- 5 Motivation when Working From Home?
- 6 How to Focus?
- 7 How to make Working From Home easier?
- 8 What Working From Home has taught me?
- 9 Conclusion
How Working From Home works?
Some companies were doing business online even before the epidemic. I believe their goals were simple — cut production, increase productivity.
With the rise of doing business online, and the advances in IT and other technologies, I think that companies mostly stumbled upon other benefits like reaching a global market, having clients worldwide, being available 24/7, online advertising, using social media to their advantage, interacting with clients, and many more.
Naturally, many online jobs were created to fill this new need. Nowadays, your job search has widened.
You can find an online job having no money, skills, or work experience. You can start chatting for money if you are of legal age and have a smartphone.
Most online jobs do require some skills like typing, good grammar, and a nice personality.
You should have a computer, access to fast internet and a quiet place in your home, without interruptions. If you have any skills, expertise, or valuable work experience, especially office-related, the world is your oyster!
Working from home imitates real-life working. There are still employers and employees, an actual work that needs to be done, for which you receive a paycheck at the end of the month.
There is a workplace, that is now your home, but it’s only you, no co-workers. You set your work schedule and can work in your pajamas if you like, all while cooking dinner, taking plenty of time to walk the dog, and greet the postman. At the end of the day, if you are productive, no one will complain about your working tactics. Do anything to survive working from home. Sounds easy, right?
What Working From Home is really like?
For a lot of people, working from home is unexpectedly hard. Everybody is wondering – how to survive working from home.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not sticking with their hard-earned work habits. People spend their entire lives learning how to get up early, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, do the homework (work), exercise, and go to bed early.
Suddenly, you start waking up late and slowly drinking coffee in bed for hours while surfing. Then, maybe you go out for a run with the dog, just because you have plenty of time and it would be a shame to waste such a beautiful day outside.
Then, some actually do some work, for a short while only, because a friend invited you out for lunch, because, you know, you are home alone, probably bored. By the time you get home, it is dinner time, and if you have a family, kids, this means a lot more chores to finish.
What about work? Oh, tomorrow will have to do.
The truth is, nothing has changed. You still have to sit down in front of your computer for 8 hours and do the work. You have to be productive, or you will get fired. You have to show the results to your boss to get paid.
Find the right work-life balance to successfully survive working from home. Don’t let your workload and personal life blend into one giant nightmare.
Benefits of Working From Home?
There are a lot of perks for employees.
You gain extra time in a day because there is no commute. If you don’t commute, you save money on gas, not to mention the car itself. When you avoid being stuck in traffic every day, you avoid stressful situations. Not to mention working without a boss looming over your head or nosy colleagues. Working from home also means not having to buy extra work-appropriate clothing, make-up, etc.
With extra time on your hands, you can arrange your own schedule, according to your needs. You can go to the shop during the day, see a movie, or a dentist.
You can go on a trip on Monday and come back Thursday. There are no limitations. As long as you finish the actual work that will get you paid during the weekend.
Companies enjoy even more benefits than employees. As we speak, many companies are closing their offices just because it is not profitable. If their employees want to use their own homes as offices, their computers and pay their internet service access, let them.
Is Working From Home more productive?
Working from home is extremely hard because it is not a vacation. You don’t suddenly have more time for extra activities. Minimizing distractions is the only way to be productive.
To survive working from home you should treat your day like every other workday in the office. You wake up early, go to your desk, and do your job. You are not free until late afternoon, or until you’re finished with your daily work goals.
You can create a specific daily routine that can help you in sticking to your schedule. There is no reason why you can’t start working at 9 a.m. Make a to-do list/checklist of things that need to be done before then, as well as after work, let’s say 5 p.m.
Good work ethics are extremely important. There are still deadlines and you should respect that. Remind yourself that you still have to work 9 to 5 and that is set in stone. Self–discipline is the key.
Think like a boss. Without a real-life boss around to demand things done, you have to become your own boss — learn how to manage yourself best for the best results.
Set house rules. Make rules that work best for you, inform your family, and stick to them.
Don’t complain — be happy that you have a source of income at these unexpectedly harsh times. Stay positive and grateful, and you will survive working from home.
Motivation when Working From Home?
It is extremely hard to motivate yourself because this is not the right work environment. You are at your home, your private place to relax, watch movies with kids, eat dinner together, and have fun.
This is why it is good to have a home office.
Designate an area in your home where you go to work. When you are finished, you can close the doors and get on with your life.
Another thing that is missing when you work from home is — people. Surprisingly, you will miss chatting with your co-workers, gossiping about your boss, showing them photos of your kids or dogs, and discussing weekend plans.
Working from home is a nightmare for extroverts. It makes you realize how important the social component of work-life is important. Your co-workers give you work-related advice, help you with projects, and lie to the boss for you. Now, you’re on your own.
My tip is to stay connected to your colleagues via phone or the internet. Use everything at your disposal — Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and WhatsApp. Share your experiences, help each other and you will realize that you are not alone.
How to Focus?
Stick to your old work schedule. Don’t change anything just because you think you have extra time. Sit down and do the work. No excuses.
Sticking to your work schedule is extremely hard because there are always distractions — drinking coffee for an hour in bed while surfing for the latest gossip, watching TV, relaxing on the couch, daydreaming, snacking, talking on the phone from friends and family who know you are home, and many more.
Now that you are working from home, people will think that you have extra time to do chores around the house and will try to dump everything into your lap.
Just because you are now at home, it may look convenient to your better half that you do the laundry, you cook the dinner, you walk the dog, you do the shopping, etc. Don’t be a pushover and don’t agree to that. Or you will never survive working from home.
If you take over the chores, you will just end up being tired, stressed, and underappreciated.
You have to learn to say no and set boundaries. Don’t let housework invade your real work. This works vice versa too.
Don’t let work invade your house. Be careful not to send out e-mails in the evening, nor should you read any work-related mail late in bed. Be aware that this is considered to be a form of bullying. This action is pressuring people to read, answer, and act on demand. Everybody should respect that you are not constantly available to your boss, and are entitled to your time off work, just as before.
And, if somebody dares to mention the benefits of multitasking, tell them to read this article from the Independent or this one from Psychology Today.
How to make Working From Home easier?
Don’t feel guilty because your stay at home job allows you to avoid the long commute to work. If your spouse has to travel to work for an hour and then another hour to get home, don’t feel bad.
Use all the tools from the traditional office. Be systematic, keep track of your goals, and utilize different apps for staying on track. There are always new tools coming out that can help you, so stay informed.
Learn to prioritize. Suddenly you may realize there are too many e-mails, phone calls, paperwork, and tasks on your to-do list. When you are overwhelmed by work, don’t panic. You may have had a secretary at the old office that used to handle everything for you. The workload was divided between you, a secretary, the boss, and many hardworking co-workers. Now, you are a one-man-band. This is surely a big change for all in 2020.
Set daily, weekly and monthly goals. In no time, you will master the art of organizing the workload.
Give yourself small rewards for completing a task, having a productive day, or a successful project. When you work from home, there is no one to praise your successes — do it yourself. Pat yourself on the back, chocolate, a glass of beer, etc.
If you start feeling stressed, anxious, and isolated, listen to music to survive working from home. According to Neuroscience, Weightless by Marconi Union is ‘World’s most relaxing song’, used to calm patients before surgery. That is truly remarkable. There’s also a free 10-hour version of “Weightless” available if you want a longer listening experience.
What Working From Home has taught me?
Humans are social beings. It is hard to work alone. It is unbelievably lonely and boring. We all need human connection. I read an article about cabin fever — when people in isolation become bored and irritated.
Humans are creatures of habit. Maintaining healthy habits and creating a good work schedule is essential for productivity. Go to bed early and get up early even when you don’t feel like it. You will not survive working from home feeling tired.
Although there are many perks to working from home, it is easy to develop bad habits.
Avoid social media, YouTube, and surfing the internet in general. Don’t get in touch with people during your work hours, don’t comment and don’t post yourself. Why waste hours and hours when you could be earning money instead?
Maintaining a healthy diet is important to well-being. When you are close to your kitchen, you snack more often and avoid healthy meals for lunch or dinner. Try to avoid junk food. Prep your meals and cook from scratch. My biggest regret while working from home is gaining weight. I was moody and tired all the time, all thanks to my lousy, highly innutritious diet.
Exercise is great for mental health also. Work is still work. It is hard and stressful. Taking short breaks every hour or so takes the edge off and helps you avoid snacking. You could go for a short walk around the block to get some air and listen to music or do a set of push-ups. Whatever works for you.
Appearances are everything. Wearing pajamas all day made me feel like a bum, without a real job, even when nobody was watching. Dressing up for “a day at the office” turns out to be important for getting in the right, productive mindset. You don’t have to wear a suit and a tie anymore, thank God, but do shower and comb your hair. Wear “Zoom Shirt“. This way you won’t freak out people on the other end of an unscheduled video call.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to be a productive worker, an exemplary parent, and a fun friend in one day. High expectations can be counter-productive and stressful.
Get out. Spend some time outside your home, breathing fresh air and looking into anything green. I read an enlightening article in Time about forest bathing which made me appreciate spending time in nature even more.
Is Working From Home the future?
I think that only some people (introverted freelancers like me) will continue working from home. In my opinion, the old, traditional office work will remain the dominant way we do business. It will take a while to get back there, but we will.
Maybe it’s because there are too many advantages or maybe because old habits die hard. In some cases, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, could be applied, too.
One good thing coming from the health crisis and social distancing is that they have forced companies to think outside the box. Many new job opportunities appeared. More people can become a part of the workforce. On Workooze you can read more about many online customer service jobs.
Although working online has gained a lot of respect and recognition after COVID-19, and became a real privilege, it has also made people appreciate working in real offices.
Others may try to incorporate a day or two a week of online work.
Each type has its pros and cons, so it may be nice to combine the two into a new, hybrid model. To learn more about how to successfully survive working from home check out this new book Working Remotely: Secrets to Success for Employees on Distributed Teams.
If you are interested in this topic, you can read what market researcher CivicScience learned about our behavior and perceptions of the future during the pandemic.
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