When you work from home, being a professional can be the most challenging part of the workday. Sure, it is nice to be able to roll up to your email and go through everything in your pajamas.
There is something to be said for your coffee, in your favorite mug. Even better, setting your hours and being the boss of your domain. All of these things come with a cost, though, and that cost is responsibility. For many, this is difficult. It isn’t that they can’t keep up with the trust; it is more about maintaining a sense of professionalism from home, where other people also believe in that professionalism as well. The good news is that creating a professional presentation from your home office is doable.
Being Professional At Home
Some have a natural affinity for working from home, and some don’t. They are a particular type that has the gift for managing money and time. For everyone else, these skills require work. If you are one of those people that have a hard time maintaining things at home, know that you are not alone. While a study from Stanford in 2018 showed that productivity and overall morale was generally increased for the telecommuters that were surveyed, it also noted that the key to maintaining performance in a homework environment required setting limits and ensuring that the workspace was set up for work.
“Professionalizing” Your Home Environment
It is essential to professionalize a space for it to serve its purpose as a workspace. The key to creating an area where a person can be productive and in turn, for the space to be treated as a proper workspace requires setting boundaries and limits for when it is used. Consider that there is a reason that workplaces have the rules that they do. If these kinds of rules are applied to a home office, then it is far more likely that space is going to help generate the results. Furthermore, it will help you, as the person working in the area, to reach the level of professionalism that is hoped for when working from home.
Creating a Professional Home Office
Successful offices often impose specific rules on how their workspace will be treated and how work will be conducted when in the office. These rules will generally be geared towards ensuring employee productivity, as well as general guidelines for the industry of business. So, for example, while a medical insurance call center may require a particular dress and that employees be on time during work hours so that the actual work of the day can be done, the office itself is also likely to be secured, passwords required for computers and a detailed record of who was in the office that day. This is because HIPAA regulations require specific measures to be taken to protect people’s personal information.
Treating Your Office As You Would Any Other Office
The number one rule to ensuring a professional demeanor while working from home is treating your home office as you would any other office. That means that you respect the space for what it is and realize that area is there for a purpose. It doesn’t mean that it has to be stuffy or uncomfortable. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t have a certain level of comfort. However, you must never forget that space is there for work. If you want to be seen as professional, then you need to make sure that you are conducting yourself and your work accordingly.
If you are feeling unsure about how to do this or you have noticed that you have been having a problem maintaining productivity or a level of professionalism, then keep reading. You will see that it is easier than you think, so long as you set up rules that work for you and create the space for working that will work for you.
Separate Work from Home Spaces
Creating professionalism from a home office is easy, so long as you don’t forget that you are indeed working. Treat your workspace accordingly. Think of it as any other workspace. This is the first step towards cutting down the drama and chaos that quite frequently can creep into a space designed for work. Whether working in a specific room and turning it into an office or on a laptop on the couch, create a way to dictate to yourself and others that you are working.
Set Up an Office Where an Office Can Be Maintained
Taking a business call while kids are screaming in the background isn’t going to give off the aura of professionalism. For this reason, make sure that any designated workspace is workable. For some, the kitchen table during the daytime when the house is quiet will suffice. After-hours, it wouldn’t work. For others, this isn’t the case at all. They may need a home office that is only used for business. Be reasonable about the workspace and determine whether or not it can be used professionally.
Some common pitfalls to avoid when designating office workspace include:
- Trying to work in high traffic areas
- Not having adequate power outlets
- Low quality or limited Wi-Fi
- Shared spaces that you can’t control
- Space that can become noisy
If people can invade the workspace or it is impossible for them to treat the space as a work area, then it is unlikely that anyone working in that area is going to be productive. Take control of the work area from the beginning and decrease potential issues so that you don’t have to deal with them while being “on the clock.”
Maintain a Schedule
Schedules are a must in the business world for a reason. Schedules keep us on task. They remind us when the next appointment is due and assist us with goal setting. While some people can work off the cuff while at home, most cannot. It’s easy to get distracted. It is just as easy to procrastinate and not get work done, even if you have a space to work in. Scheduling will make it far easier to make sure deadlines are met and the work gets done. Additionally, this creates a way to track productivity and to estimate work potential in the future.
Tips for creating and maintaining a schedule include:
- Establish a regular work schedule
- Include typical breaks
- Workaround personal or family responsibilities
- Create work periods and goals to meet for these times
Distractions at home are easy to find. Some people can’t separate work from personal space. There is no one telling you to do this or that or watching over your shoulder. No, instead you are responsible for everything. Eliminate typical distractions where you can and use reminders for the rest.
Tips for limiting distractions include:
- Create task lists and schedule timers to remind you when things are due
- Don’t answer personal phone calls or emails while conducting business
- Dedicate your at-home work clothing
- Post your schedule up where roommates or family members can see so that they know when you are working.
Stock Up on Needed Tools or Equipment
It is easy to put off doing things because you don’t have the tools to do it. If you don’t have pens, and then you need to search around the house for them, you’re bound to get distracted. Instead, charge your phone ahead of time. Prepare your tools on a weekly or daily basis. Prepare your workspace before you begin working.
Dress for Work
While you can get away with wearing whatever you want while working from home, you should keep in mind that what you wear can adjust your mindset. Don’t wear your comfy pajamas when you are on video calls. It is vital to keep your professional persona to bosses, clients, and other workers that you talk to daily. Always keep in mind that even if you are home, they still need to see you at work.
Work Hard. Play Hard.
There are perks to working from home, but one of the hardest parts about maintaining professionalism is the risk of burnout. A lot of the above tips will not only make sure that you are keeping up with your professionalism on the job, but they are also likely to increase the time spent on maintaining your work environment. Take some time off, leave the house, and create a separation of work and home life so that it feels like you are actually off work when you are. It is possible. You can create a healthy balance and set up boundaries for yourself and your space from working at home. It just requires treating both your work and personal life as vital and essential, giving them both the credit and space in your life that they deserve.