Home Work: Required Reading Before You Work From Home

How to set up your office, what to expect, and more

Home Work: Required Reading Before You Work From Home

Working from home has almost universal appeal. Chances are, you’re a kindred spirit to the 80% of workers in the U.S. who say they want to telework, at least part of the time.

Still, it takes work to work from home: from getting your boss to agree to the idea — to avoiding the productivity pitfalls, isolation, and other hurdles that can creep up once you’ve made the move.

The good news is there’s plenty of great advice out there to help you to both make the leap — and land on your feet. This week’s articles will help you:

  • convince the team that you’re ready for remote work
  • stay productive in your home office
  • avoid distractions
  • establish good ground rules as you develop your new work routine
  • hide that nest of cables that sprung up overnight underneath your desk

Ready to work from home? Here’s some good advice as you take the plunge.

Ace the Pitch to Work From Home

Remote work isn’t for everyone. It takes a special blend of skill and discipline for an employee to thrive, and while you might be eager to take the plunge, your boss might take some convincing to let you try it out.

Or, maybe you’re an executive trying to determine if your team can make remote work work. Either way, read on.

When you’re ready to have the conversation, we have your preparation covered. 10 Job Interview Questions to Ask Remote Workers by Sharon Florentine for CIO.com is a gem of a piece that walks through both the questions and the answers that matter for assessing remote workers. No matter what your role, this article has something for everyone.

  • Are you an employee or contractor looking for remote work? It’s a cheat-sheet for you to ace the interview.
  • Already have a job you love? Here are the ingredients for a successful pitch to your boss and HR department to work out of your home office.
  • On the fence about your fit for remote work? The article doubles as a self-assessment. If these answers don’t ring true for you, you might have some prep work to do before you attempt the plunge.
  • Building your remote team? These Q’s (and their A’s) go straight into your interview notes.

Florentine’s article helps streamline the assessment process, and makes sure you’re focused on the traits and experience that really matter to remote work success. This is valuable advice, no matter which side of the desk you’re on.

Conquer Work-From-Home Challenges

It’s not all a bed of roses, of course. Working out of a home office has its perks (one word: sweatpants) but also its challenges. Knowing what they are ahead of time can help you sidestep adversity.

What downsides should you watch out for? Lela Kodai — a software engineer who transitioned to remote work last year — reveals her own list, and the solutions she learned along the way, in 6 Personal Challenges to Working Remotely for her company blog Bitovi.

Kodai makes it clear that switching from a central office space was a major lifestyle change, with implications for both her social and personal lives. She dives into how she stayed organized and motivated (after a few false starts) and how she dealt with the isolation and cabin-fever that crept into her work week.

With home-based work, distractions are legion. With pets, chores (not to mention Netflix) competing for attention, mental focus is a muscle that need to be exercised daily. Kodai speaks candidly about how she beat back distractions with structure and boundaries.

Forewarned is forearmed. Kodai’s article offers enough details — and personal insights — to make it useful for anyone contemplating remote work (or already dealing with its challenges). And if you’re still sporting rose-colored glasses about working from home, this article will be a gentle wake-up call.

Set Up Your Home Office to Eliminate Distractions

We pin gorgeous photos of home-office desks, we clip ideas for cutting-edge multi-monitor setups. But, for many of us, what we really need to be shooting for something slightly more down-to-earth: a simple home office that helps keep our productivity up and and our minds focused on our work.

If you prioritize the practical over the aesthetic, here’s an article for you. 5 Key Design Factors for an Effective Home Office by HomeSuite founder David Adams shows us some rules to follow as we look to carve out a modest work-space that can happily coexist with our living quarters.

Top priority: definitely carve out that separate work space. Apparently, some 50% of us do work in our actual beds (oops, guilty as charged), and it reportedly affects everything from our productivity to sleep health. Adams offers some practical tips on location, lighting, and the all-important desk chair. After he dishes up his advice, he links out to resources that offer a deeper dive.

One of the best parts of working from home is the flexibility to design a work environment that fits just right. Making smart choices can set you up for success and help you sidestep some of the distraction challenges that come from work at home. If you’re ready to think through your options, this article helps you get started right.

Use Ground Rules to Stay Productive At Home

By now, you’re probably getting the sense that working from home can be a bit of a minefield. It’s true. With great freedom comes great opportunities to have your mind wander from the tasks at hand.

So, let’s look at some ground rules that will help you eliminate distractions and keep your productivity at optimal levels. Kristi Hines gives us a handful of advice that’s right on target in 9 Ways to Be More Productive Working From Home,” featured on our own Redbooth blog.

Hines advocates boundary-setting and routines as some powerful ways to keep our minds focused during business hours. They sound deceptively simple — especially when there’s no rush to join the morning commute to the office — but they act to “train your brain to be efficient at a specific task at a specific time” says Hines. That sounds like the very definition of productivity, to us.

She wraps up her piece with advice towards developing daily routines that help energize you, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Feeling restless after too much alone time? Check out her advice for extroverts, who can especially find remote work socially isolating, if they haven’t built in ways to connect with others.

Although increased flexibility is one of the main perks of working from home, establishing ground rules and some structure is the key to remote work happiness. Hines helps us balance the scales and offers good food for thought.

Hide All The Cables

Stop reading for a moment and steal a glance underneath your desk. Yes, we’ll wait for you.

Like what you see?

Whether you’re at work or at home, chances are you spotted a nest of tangled cords. Your laptop, the monitor, your phone, your tablet, your printer, your external hard-drive — need we go on? Even if you have only a subset of those, it can look like a 1920’s telephone switchboard back there.

Now you might not be aiming for an office worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest, but even with your humble attempt at design aesthetics — that tangle of cords has got to go. This is doubly important if your office shares space with your livingroom or bedroom, where a cord-cocoon is simply not welcome.

If you’re not exactly bursting with ideas on how to make that happen, check out 11 Sneaky Tricks to Hide Those Ugly Cables at Home for Industry Standard Design blog. We promise you, there are some ideas here that you haven’t seen.

The boldest among them? Cable wall art. (We really can’t explain it further than that — you’ll just have to check out the included photos.) The rest of them are DIY projects that even the most non-crafty among you can probably tackle.

A home office shouldn’t take over your home. If your cords need to be corralled, this article gives you plenty of ideas to sweep them under the proverbial — and literal — rug.