The Unsettled Guide To Working From Home… Successfully
By: Naomi Matlow
Uber delivers food right to our door. We have enough technology on an 11-inch (and even 4-inch) device to run a global company.
Yet, some people still have to put pants on and commute to work.
This piece isn’t for those people (sorry). We know you have your problems: the crowded morning subway car, the office gossip, the guy who keeps stealing all the pens but won’t fess up to it. But we’ll be honest – while working from home certainly has its benefits, it also comes with its challenges.
Today, about one-fifth of Americans are working from home on a regular basis, and it’s a trend that’s only increasing. As we collectively enter this new realm of work – where the “office” is an 11” screen that we can take anywhere, our officemates are pets, plants, partners, or even kids- we need to recognize that building healthy habits is a key to making it “work”.
Google’s People Innovation Lab team just published their findings after a two-year study on remote, or “distributed work”, across their own company, including tips for distributed teams to feel more connected. We decided to put together our own resources for distributed workers on an individual level.
So, how do we ensure that working from home is an opportunity and not a burden?
1. Schedule Epic Breaks from Work
If you work from home, it probably means that you have a bit of freedom, even if you are busy as hell. That flexibility may open doors to more daytime breaks so your sunshine hours do not have to always be about emails.
How about some midday runs, reading for pleasure in the backyard or a nearby park, walking the dog, grabbing a beer with a friend for an afternoon break or unleashing some of your creative energy by drawing? Or even a daytime break in your home office to reflect and simply be helps to make every day not only about paying the bills.
At Unsettled, Co-founder Michael Youngblood is known to shred the snow on a midday snowboard run. Co-founder Jonathan Kalan goes from heads down to surfs up in a heartbeat for a mid-afternoon wave crush, and Head of Community, Taylor Floeck takes epic midday jogs with her beautiful dog Bo to train for her upcoming marathon!
What would a perfect midday work break be for you? What would clear your head and get the body moving to improve focus and concentration when you return to your desk?
2. Create A Designated Remote Work Space
Whether it’s your special work desk, table, or chair, making a designated work area in your home does wonders for physically dividing your “home life” and “work life” even if they exist within the same four walls. These physical boundaries will help create your work-life boundaries as well. It’s not easy, and we know as well as anyone the temptation to pop open that laptop in bed, but this will be a guaranteed way to help you keep things balanced in the long run.
3. Find a Coworking Space Where You Live
There is no doubt that working from home can be lonely. Though studies have shown that working from home can be more productive than working in an office, there is no physical water cooler, or someone to go out on a walk and grab lunch with, etc.
Loneliness and isolation is paramount in our ever-increasing digital world. According to Dr. Dilip Jeste, “Loneliness is defined as ‘subjective distress’. It is the discrepancy between the social relationships you want and the social relationships you have”. The upsurge in remote working does not help this discrepancy, in fact, it makes it more difficult to foster those social relationships that you want. Relationships then, outside of work, become essential to counteract the loneliness, but it may never completely go away.
Whether it is a coworking space, a sports league, an art class, or a group of friends or family that meet on a regular basis, foster these communities and lean on them when work life gets lonely.
4. Find a Community of Remote Workers
Our Unsettled community is full of remote workers who create environments that are productive and supportive for them on our retreats around the world. For many, the spaces we create foster new ideas and expand our horizons. They are a refuge from the home offices that are only as good as you make them. Where would you want to set up shop on an Unsettled retreat?
5. Travel With Your Work
We all need a change of scenery every so often. And when you don’t have a four-walled office, the world can be your place of work. From cafes to park benches, sandy beaches to atop epic mountains, test your limits and find a new place of work. Who knows, you may be the most productive sitting under a tree in the grass? You’ll never know until you give it an honest try…
6. Shake up Your Routine
Routine can be good or bad, it can chain us or free us from making so many daily decisions. If you work from home, you probably have some freedom to design your own routine (and mix it up too). However, working from home has the same day-in and day-out of an office job. The great opportunity is to shake it up as frequently as you need to.
Answer these questions and then find an accountability buddy to help you build these habits…or better yet, find a group of buddies to do it together!
- What does a great morning routine look like for you? Write it down!
- How can you bring fun and play into your workday?
- How might you make some workdays social? You’d be surprised about who else might be looking for a pop-up coworking day!
- Where’s a new place you want to try working from? Maybe you can find a coworking buddy to keep you accountable and try it out with you?
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell
So, how successful could you be if you switched up that routine every once in a while? And if you work from home, you may just have that luxury
7. Get An Office. Sometimes.
There is no doubt that a designated office space, away from your bed, can have its perks sometimes. A flexible pass at a coworking space, a public library nook or a few go-to coffee shops where the baristas might know your name (and your order!) can become your 9-5 office when you’re craving that structure. That change of scenery and human interaction is valuable for wellbeing and can provide a dose of inspiration for your work too.