My employer allowed me to start working from home one day per week last year. This relatively-minor change to start telecommuting or working remotely has been wonderful for my productivity. My friends continue to make comments about how they wouldn’t be able to work from home because nothing would get done. To the contrary, I’ve perfected my routine to the point where I complete my work and accomplish a variety of other tasks.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work from home. While not everyone can work remotely, I suspect that many people unnecessarily believe it can’t be done in their profession or specific position. Try to be creative and pragmatic when considering whether it is right for you. For me, the key was recognizing that setting a specific day to work from home was not feasible. There are some responsibilities that require my physical presence and they can’t always be confined to a specific day of the week. But, my employer agreed to my suggestion of a “floating” out-of-the office day. I can only stay home if my schedule is free that day and I have assignments that can be completed remotely. Also, there was a caveat that on some weeks it will simply not be an option.
Working remotely is becoming increasingly accepted. If you want to suggest it to your employer, go into the discussion with a plan. Explain the benefits. Be realistic about how it can work for your specific position and responsibilities. And here’s my biggest tip to get the green light:
Instead of asking for a permanent change, suggest a trial period to see whether the new arrangement works for everyone.
Your employer should be more willing to agree to a temporary arrangement, as opposed to a permanent change. Then, during the trial period, make sure that you are productive and accessible. Carry your phone with you. Check voicemail and email frequently during the day. Make sure that you have a good computer, internet access, printer, and whatever other tools you may need to complete your work. Finally, the arrangement would be an utter fail if my toddlers were at home with me. If I want to put in a full day’s work, they need to be elsewhere or someone else needs to be at home to take care of them.
Congratulations! Now that you have the opportunity to work from home, how do you maximize the benefits? There is more to be gained from telecommuting than just a break from commuting or getting dressed up.
How I use working from home one day per week to get ahead:
- Save money and time. There is the obvious saving of money on transportation. But you’re also saving time that is normally spent commuting. For me, not having to leave my house easily gives me an extra two hours of time. Two hours of extra time is a huge advantage to anyone, especially a full-time working mom who is side-hustling.
- Multitasking. There are many things you can do at home, while working, that are not an option in the office. I make some extra money through internet rewards sites. One of the easiest ways to earn credit through these sites is to watch short videos. My office computer will not play these videos (blocked access). However, I can open up another window on my computer at home, zoom out so it’s very small, and mute the videos. I earn money by clicking on new videos every so often, while doing my work in a different window.
- Have a plan to take productive breaks. Whether you’re at home or in the office, you will need to take a break at some point. At work, you might have a conversation by the coffee pot or browse the internet. You can use those same breaks to accomplish various tasks at home. Fold and put away some laundry. Do some simple cleaning. Run a daytime errand, like stopping at the bank or going to the post office (difficult for those of us who usually work during normal business hours). The key is to develop a plan ahead of time, so you don’t waste time figuring out what to do during your breaks.
- Make yourself a good lunch. Implementing a brown-bag routine is a great tool in building a frugal and efficient lifestyle. Once you find a particular lunch that works for you, it’s easy to figure out the quickest and cheapest way to prepare it every workday. I do like to change it up on my days at home to build in a little variety to the normal lunchtime routine. I will heat up some leftovers or cook something to use up what has been lingering in our pantry/fridge.
- Add some exercise. Remember that extra time you’re not spending on the commute? Use it to do a little bit of exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block. We all know that exercise is healthy and it will help you focus. And finding the motivation to do a bit of exercise is that much easier if you don’t have to change out of a suit and heels. Do make sure to bring your phone along, in case anyone needs to get ahold of you.
- Personalize your schedule. The freedom of working from home has really helped me to use my time more efficiently. Work assignments always have seemed to follow me home on nights and weekends. I discovered that the problem, for the most part, is that my ability to focus on work is non‑existent during certain parts of the day. It’s a lot easier to use that time on things like my blog or chores when working from home. While work still comes home on nights or weekends, I feel much more accomplished and productive because of the other completed tasks. The first step is an honest assessment of your energy levels and ability to focus. Then, you can develop a plan to capitalize on your individual preferences and responsibilities.
My arrangement to work from home represents one more way that I’m breaking away from the status quo. Instead of blindly assuming that every workday has to begin with a commute into the office, I took the initiative to create a different arrangement. I’m taking further advantage of this opportunity and maximizing my benefits in order to move closer to achieving our goals.
Now, it’s your turn, can it work for you?