Entrepreneurial Strategies for Working from Home Successfully
Even as COVID-19 stay-at-home orders gradually lift, many companies and individuals will continue to work from home for many months ahead to maintain social distancing.
A growing number of companies were already heading in the direction of remote work before the coronavirus outbreak. That’s because of the many benefits it offers employers and employees alike, combined with new technology that makes it easier than ever.
The coronavirus pandemic may serve as a catalyst to expedite the growth of this trend, even after the pandemic threat is eradicated.
Numerous people have also lost their jobs as a direct result of the pandemic. So many people are now seeking work-from-home opportunities through self-employment or side gigs.
For some individuals, working from home is a dream come true. But for others, telecommuting has its drawbacks and is a big adjustment. Many find it challenging to get motivated; struggle with time-management, self-management, or productivity; and find it easy to slack off.
So the following strategies used by many successful entrepreneurs can help you stay on track during this transition.
Assess Your Personal Situation
Everyone’s work-from-home situation is different. So think about your situation and individual needs. Some questions to consider are:
- What is your home environment like?
- Is it loud or quiet?
- Do you have sufficient workspace?
- What does working from home look like?
- Do you have flexible or structured hours?
- Do you work with others through video calls or exclusively by yourself?
- How is your work from home measured?
- How do you work best?
- Do you need structure or flexibility?
- Do you work better alone or with others?
- Is a commute or transition time necessary to mentally prepare you for work?
After you’ve thought about your work situation and what you need to be successful, find ways to incorporate what works best for you while working from home.
Create a Home Workspace
If you don’t already have an office or workspace, find a way to create one. It may be tempting to work on your couch in front of the TV. But you’re not likely to be focused and productive. If you’re used to commuting to work, your mind and body are conditioned to work in a particular environment.
If others live in your home or you don’t have a designated workspace, it can be challenging to work from home. So set boundaries around your work time and space. Even if you have a home office, you may need to make modifications so it meets your needs.
When setting up your work area, create a space that mimics your ideal work environment, and designate that space for work. Consider all the tools and the layout you need to do your job efficiently, and find ways to incorporate everything into your workspace. If you’re used to personal comforts at work like a salt lamp, plants, or coffee machine, incorporate them into your setup at home.
If you have limited space, create a “workspace in a box.” Store everything you need together in a box so you can set up quickly and easily on any surface. Then take it down at the end of your workday.
Get into Work Mode
If you usually work away from home, you’re probably accustomed to a transition between home and work life. For example, you get dressed, eat breakfast, drink coffee, and then commute to work. At the end of the day, you travel home, perhaps listening to the radio to wind down before you arrive. This helps to shift between work mode and relaxing at home.
When working from home, however, these boundaries are often blurred. So you may need to find ways to differentiate between work time and personal time. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into the trap of never being entirely focused on work or relaxation, leaving you feeling unsatisfied in both areas.
Come up with a routine that closely mimics your regular workday. Set your alarm rather than sleeping in, and get dressed rather than lingering in your pajamas. This will also make it easier to transition back to your place of employment when the time comes.
Also, do a commuting activity. If you usually listen to a podcast in the car or read a book on the train, do the same thing for a set amount of time before beginning your workday. Or go for a walk in your neighborhood (being mindful of social distancing).
Set Time and/or Task Goals
Productivity and self-management can be more difficult when working from home. Set small, achievable goals based either on amounts of time or accomplishing specific tasks. Create a chart so you can visualize your goals and mark off items as you complete them so you can see your progress and feel you’ve accomplished something.
Also, reward yourself and give your brain a rest with breaks. Breaks are healthy and necessary, so use them to reset and recharge. Stand up, get in some light activity, and do something fun. Try not to use this time to accomplish things around the house that you don’t enjoy. Also, avoid social media and the news as much as possible, as they can increase anxiety and stress.
Set a timer for your break so you don’t lose track of time. Then use a mini transition to get back into work mode.
It can be challenging to communicate with your managers, employees, or coworkers when working from home. You may be used to walking over to someone to ask questions or troubleshoot a problem. When usual communication patterns are interrupted, there’s also room for misinterpretation and misunderstandings.
When communicating by email or phone, keep communication clear and concise. Remember that tone and meaning can be difficult to convey over text, email, and even video conferencing. If something comes across in a way you wouldn’t expect, assume the other person has good intentions, and if needed, ask for clarification and check for understanding.
In addition to work-related conversation, it may be helpful to keep up social communication with your coworkers. Social interaction with coworkers may be part of what makes work enjoyable to you.
If you usually chat with coworkers during breaks, eat lunch together, or go out after work, incorporate a video call into your lunch break from home. This can also help keep you sane and improve your mood during these chaotic times by creating balance and a sense of normalcy.
Finally, remember, this is a time of transition and new experiences. It’ll take time and experimentation to discover how to make working remotely work best for you. So be gentle on yourself and others while learning how to do your job in a whole new way.