More employees than ever are working from home - a number that seems to be going nowhere but up. Employees benefit from more flexible schedules, decreased commutes, and a spike to happiness. Employers get the benefit of fewer bodies in the office which result in less office space needed and lower utilities which results in lower overhead, and happier, more loyal employees. The idea is that this all increases productivity while lowering turnover.The world has a feeling that it is shrinking by way of more accessible higher speed internet and things like video conferencing which can give the feel of being in office without being physically present. This lifestyle brings up new challenges. At home, there are more distractions, less protocol in place to monitor work being completed efficiently, and fewer resources.
Employees also have the fear that working remotely and being a less familiar face may disadvantage them when it comes to future promotions and raises. Some are experiencing the pain of boundaries, knowing a home office means you never really get to go home from work. The fact is this is the way the world is heading. There are many ways to guarantee you're staying productive and integral to your place of business.
Don't Make Your Entire Home Your Office
While you may never get to "leave work" as you did from a remote office, you can create boundaries at home. You'll face the temptation to go to the most comfortable place or want to work with your kid across the table. You may find it hard to keep your work life organized or run into trouble when it comes to "turning off" at the end of the day. Having a designated workspace helps, but even there you'll have to stay organized and limit distraction.
Author and designer Austin Kleon approaches this challenge in a unique way. He does almost all of his work at home and touches on the difficulty of staying organized and productive. "I have two desks in my office — one is “analog”, and one is “digital.” The analog desk has nothing but markers, pens, pencils, paper, and newspaper. Nothing electronic is allowed on the desk — this is how I keep myself off Twitter, etc. This is where most of my work is born... This is where I edit, publish, etc."
As accountants, it would be good to put in place the options to limit unnecessary distractions when doing certain types of work. Do you need your phone? Do you need the wifi on constantly? Is it something you could eliminate all distraction from and work offline? You want to stay accessible, yes, but it might not be necessary to have your browser open. Turn it off if you don't need it for what you're working on. You'll get emails from your phone. Better yet, turn your phone off and instead install messenger and turn email notifications on your computer. Eliminating social media strolling will greatly impact your productivity.
Use Your Clothing to Set a Precedent
Do yourself a favor by sparing the sweats and hoodie every day. Military drone pilots operate aircraft that can be thousands of miles away, but when they go to work, they still wear their military uniforms and go through protocol just as if they were piloting a mission in the aircraft. This is done to maintain the reality of the work they are doing. While they are remote, dropping a bomb or gathering intel carries the same importance when done across the world sitting in a room as it does flying a few thousand feet over the objective. The pilots still go home to their families at night, but they are not under the impression that being off-site means anything less than being overseas.
Working remotely can make it eas to let things slide a little more than if you were in the office. No one can see when you walk in ten minutes late or if you take a long lunch. Staying punctual keeps you fresh and attentive and staves off the temptation to become a slacker. You should be no less a professional when working from home and should not allow yourself to fall out of the mentality either. Setting a higher standard in simple ways helps keep the quality of your professional attitude intact. It may help a couple of days a week to "show up" to work 15 minutes before your co-workers in office do. If you do it right, you'll still be able to sleep more, stay more productive, and manage your productivity and lifestyle to excel.
Don't Be a Stranger
People in the office no longer see you coming in, working, and they can't hear you when you communicate through emails all the time. Being a part of the office environment depends on your proactiveness. Make sure to call the home office, stay in touch with co-workers, and schedule video conferencing whenever you can. Email is easy, but trust, communication, and relationships still grow best in face to face interactions. Stop by the office just to say hi. Participate in work activities, and go in for the second half of the day sometimes when you don't have to. Take people out to happy hour and invite them to watch a game on Saturday. You should feel like you're still part of a team and be letting others know you're dedicated as much as they are, even when your office isn't right next doors to theirs.