Many marketing agencies are moving in the direction of more flexibility and freedom when it comes to working remotely. Many at-home workers report they are more productive when working from home than when working in a traditional office environment. The benefits for companies and individuals are many, but working from home can bring its own set of difficulties.
Predicaments might range from lack of productivity or discipline to becoming a workaholic and never being able to truly disconnect. Finding that perfect balance can prove elusive. These tips might help you strike a balance when working from home:
Define Your Space
If you have the option, create a place dedicated for work. You might have the luxury of an entire office in your home, or it might be just a desk in the corner (hopefully as free from distractions as possible). When you sit in this space, you are “at work” and your mind will begin to associate this area with productivity. Then, at the end of the day, when you walk away from that space, you also mentally walk away from your work.
Set Regular Hours
While it’s not necessary to make yourself punch a time clock, the value of establishing rhythms and good habits is critical. Depending on the scope of your work, schedule your hours within the confines of regular team meetings, GoTo Meetings, and other appointments. Try to get yourself into your chair at the same time each morning, and work through until you reach a pre-set break time. Of course, throwing in the odd load of laundry here-and-there won’t hurt. But don't become overly distracted and decide to complete a full inventory of clothes that can be donated to Goodwill while putting in a load of clothes.
While some corporate muckety-mucks may think that working from home is just one big party, the reality is that many remote workers get deeply involved in projects and sometimes forget to take breaks. You need breaks for your mind and body. Since you won’t find yourself gathered around the water cooler talking about yesterday’s game, set aside time to get up, walk around, grab a glass of water, or even look out the window for a few minutes. Messaging apps, like Slack, are useful not only for team based messaging but also for creating a virtual water cooler environment. At LyntonWeb we have a separate Slack channel for our Fantasy Football league where we can chat about injuries, trades and upcoming weekend games.
Although a certain amount of ambient noise may be helpful for creativity, too much activity going on in the background might inhibit productivity. Children, pets, and even mail deliveries can act as interruptions that completely throw off your workflow. Background music is fine, but don’t get distracted by playing D.J.—just put something on let it play. Let the mailman leave the delivery at the door and set your working hours when children are in school or participating in activities outside the house.
Get Outside Your Normal Space
While you are in your home, you should certainly have a work station. But the beauty of working remotely is that you can get outside of your own four walls and move about in the world to break up the monotony. Working from a coffee shop, park, or even just your back patio, may help your brain to reset itself offering that spark of creativity that you might not find at your desk. At LyntonWeb we have the flexibility to go into our local offices a few days a week. Personally, I love breaking up my week we a few days at home and few days at a traditional office. Regardless of how you choose to vary your normal space be sure your new chosen workspace is conducive to your tasks for the day.
Become an Even Better Communicator
One of the inherent struggles remote workers come up against is communication. You can’t just pop your head up over the cubicle wall and ask a question. Intentionality is key when face-to-face communication is limited.
Here are some tips:
- Think more carefully about what you are saying (or writing) and how you are saying it.
- Keep your written communication clear and concise.
- Respond to team members in a timely manner.
- Ask clarifying questions.
- Allow opportunities for feedback.
- Err on the side of over communication.
Working remotely as part of a marketing team certainly has its pros and cons. Ultimately, it makes sense to gather the most talented people from across the globe, staffing your organization with people who fit best in your team - no matter where they live. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who works remotely, then kudos to you for scoring a lifestyle that many people envy.