The massive number of employees working from home over the past five years seems just to be growing. Even if working remotely part-time, employees benefit from more flexible schedules, decreased commute times, a dip in transportation costs, and a spike to happiness. Employers get the benefit of fewer bodies in the office which result in less space needed and lower utilities which results in lower overhead, and happier, more loyal employees, which increases productivity while lowering turnover.
This is all made possible through the world 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. The challenges are however there. At home, there are more distractions, less protocol in place to monitor work being completed efficiently, and sometimes fewer resources. Employees also have the fear that working remotely and being a less familiar face may disadvantage them in the future when it comes to promotion and raises. The fact is this is the way the world is heading, and there are many ways to guarantee you're staying productive and integral to your place of business.
Dedicate Your Workspace and Keep it Distraction Free
We all face the temptation of going to the most comfortable place at home or working with our kid across the table, but the fact is every little distraction here or there as well as the mental aspect of feeling you are at work come into place. Author and designer Austin Kleon 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’s “analog” and one’s “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. The digital desk has my laptop, my monitor, my scanner, my Wacom tablet, and a MIDI keyboard controller for if I want to record any music. (Like a lot of writers, I’m a wannabe musician.) This is where I edit, publish, etc."
Kleon has separate sides of his office depending on what type of work he needs to get done. 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 wifi on. 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 benefit your productivity.
Dress the Part and Set High Standards
You don't need to don the full suit and tie, but spare 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. A lot of this is done not to negate the feeling of the severity 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 possible to let things slide a little more than if you were at work. No one sees if you're ten minutes late or if you slack off for a bit in the afternoon. Doing little things, like how you dress or staying punctual, keeps you fresh and attentive while staving off the temptation to become a slacker. You are no less a professional when working from home, so you should not allow yourself to fall out of the mentality either. Setting yourself to a higher standard in some ways may help. Instead of sleeping in, wake up earlier to work out, and "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.
Be Heard and Seen
The biggest part of working from home is that 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. This is largely going to depend on your proactiveness, but you should 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. Don't be a complete stranger either. 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 and take people out to happy hour. You should feel like you're still part of a team and should let others know you're dedicated as much as they are, even when your office isn't right next doors to theirs.