Flexible working arrangements appear to be here to stay. But the benefits of working from home also come with the challenge of maintaining an appropriate work-life balance and a high level of productivity. Here are several ideas to consider if you’ll be continuing to work from home, either full-time or occasionally:
- Divide your day into sections. Consider dividing your day into segments based on projects and asking for several hours of quiet time. If you have a family, it’s easier to manage 2 to 3 hours of uninterrupted time rather than 8 to 10 hours at a time.
Action step: Get an electronic calendar, share it with your family and co-workers, and actually use it! An up-to-date calendar will help you, your family and your co-workers know when you are busy.
- Create an urgent/important matrix for your to-do list. A never-ending to-do list can quickly rob you of your work-life balance. An urgent/important matrix can help you decide which items need done today, and which items are ok to push into the future.
Action step: The next time someone approaches you with a small project that needs to get done as soon as possible, have that person help you decide where to place that task in your matrix. If the task truly needs to be completed ASAP, the two of you can decide which of your current priorities can be pushed into the future.
- Over-communicate with your boss. Heading off phone calls and e-mails from your boss asking about a project’s status will save valuable time for both of you in the quest of work-life balance. Consider being proactive about sharing any information that your boss might want to know. Action step: A summary e-mail sent to your boss once a week could serve as a quick touch point about project updates instead of sending multiple e-mails throughout the week.
- Create and review your own space. Even if you live by yourself, try to separate your work environment from your non-work environment. By now, most work-at-home employees have their routine, but it should still be reviewed periodically.
Action step: Clock your work time a couple of days each month. See how many hours you are giving your employer. Adjust you home work day to either be more productive or take some of your personal time back. Working too much or not enough can both create long-term complications.
- Continue to leverage in-office opportunities. Do not overlook the power of periodically connecting with other team members. Many employers are providing alternative work spaces for those who wish to connect with fellow employees.
Action step: Take advantage of these in-office opportunities. This is especially important if your supervisor and other decision makers are in the office. Remember, human interaction is still a powerful tool for developing relationships and creating work synergy.
Working from home is part of the new norm. Be sure to work closely with your employer to make sure this arrangement remains a win-win opportunity for both of you.