THE INC. LIFE

6 Ways You Can Efficiently Work From Home

Working from home works as long as there are clear goals, metrics, and communication schedules

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BY Jared Carl Millan - 29 Aug 2017

work from home

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

One of the best things about today’s work culture is that we are no longer constrained by the rigidity of traditional office structures. Thanks to the infinite power of technology, we are able to be more flexible with our work. As a result, more and more professionals are being given the option to work from home.

There are a lot of advantages to be had in such an arrangement. “Working from home or outside the office allows the employee to 'lock in' to their effort and minimizes office distractions and meetings that typically might slow down our productivity,” says Steve Feiner, co-founder and CEO of Singaporean start-up A Better Florist. “Additionally working from home is a major employee benefit that if done correctly can improve employee retention and engagement.”

On the other hand, there are downsides as well; for some people, working from home simply doesn’t work. “Some do not have the willpower or the ability to focus outside of an office environment and for them working from home is terrible,” says Feiner. “From a business stand point, many of the best ideas happen when great folks come together. While that does not always need to be in a meeting, working in the office does allow for more opportunities.”

As with most things, there has to be a perfect balance in order for this arrangement to benefit both employee and employer. Here’s how to properly work from home and maximize your time wisely.

1. Get comfortable

One of the best things about being able to work from home is your ability to be comfortable in your own space, wearing your own clothes, and working with your own schedule. It’s important to note, however, that you shouldn’t get too comfortable. Otherwise you will fall into the trap that most weak-willed people do, wasting their time lounging around the house and failing to get anything done.

2. Eliminate distractions

Find a dedicated workstation where you can work free of distractions. The reason why some people fail to thrive in a work from home arrangement is that they lack focus. Distractions abound when you’re at home, from the entertainment console in the living room to the stocked fridge in the kitchen. Hence, it’s crucial that you eliminate as much distraction as you can by stepping away from them during the hours you need to work.

3. Prioritize

Setting up a list of priorities is perhaps the most crucial aspect of successfully working from home. You need to identify what your goals and deliverables are, which of them needs accomplishing first, and when. “Some people might say that such set-up will ultimately lead to a lose of control over your employees’ productivity,” says Rob Blanckaert, CEO of Ushift, a jobs platform in Southeast Asia, but he believes that this should not be an issue as long as clear expectations are set beforehand.

4. Protect your time

Every day allocate a certain number of hours to your work, then make sure that within that time frame you won’t do anything unrelated to your goals for that day. Everything else will have to take the back seat. Blanckaert says, “I think that working from home works as long as there are clear goals, metrics, and communication schedules.”

5. Coordinate with your colleagues

In an Inc. article, Christina DesMarais says, “Several years ago, I worked for a large company that let me telecommute several times a week. Because I wanted everyone in the office to know I was really working and not watching TV or out shopping, I made a point of emailing and calling co-workers and especially my boss a few times a day.”

6. Utilize your tools

Whether it’s for conferences with your team or quick individual chats, there are myriad tools at your disposal that will suit your every need, such as Slack and Skype. “While it's ideal if you can occasionally meet in-person with co-workers, sometimes it's not possible because teams are separated by geography,” writes DesMarais. “In that case, video chatting is the next best thing, with Google+ Hangouts being an excellent medium for doing it.”