Working from home presents a ton of benefits including a short commute, comfortable work attire and lack of office distractions. But like most other things in life, with the good comes the bad – unless you know how to avoid them! Here are four of the biggest mistakes you can make when working remotely, like many of us are now doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1) Failure to Set Boundaries
Not all of us have the luxury of closing a private office door and enjoying solitude while working remotely. Especially during a time of self-isolation, family can present unique challenges for a working individual. Whether it’s a constant interruption from a child looking for direction, a partner who is not used to you being unavailable while at home or outside family and friends calling to chat, working from home can quickly lead to frustration.
To help combat these issues, you need to communicate what you require from others while working. If you have a door to your office, use a sign to remind family members when you will be available. Inform friends and other family members of your office hours and ask them to call you outside of those hours (other than for emergencies).
Besides family, you need to set boundaries with clients, too. Just because you’re working remotely does not mean that you need to be available at all hours to respond to their inquiries. Set regular business hours, communicate them on your voicemail, website and email signature line and, most importantly, abide by them yourself (i.e. stop responding to those emails at all hours!).
2) Failure to Take Care of You
At the beginning of my remote working career, I remember my husband calling at 3 pm to tell me he was on his way home from work – and I hadn’t even had lunch yet.
I know firsthand how easy it is to get so wrapped up in project work that you stop taking breaks. And that’s not good.
Working remotely typically involves even less physical activity than working in an office. No longer is exercise required to consult with coworkers in other parts of the building, pick up printing or attend to walk-in clients. Now, all of your work is done within arms reach of your keyboard.
That’s why you need to make a big effort to fit in some movement throughout your day. To do so, you need to find a system that works for you. Maybe it’s setting a timer or using a Fitbit to remind you to get up from your desk. Or maybe it’s paying attention to your pets – they usually do the reminding for you!
3) Failure to Set Up a Dedicated Work Space
My work as Toronto copywriter requires a lot of concentration. If yours is similar, then you will need a distraction-free space (or at least as distraction-free as possible).
Working from the bed or couch may seem like a good idea at first but you’ll soon realize that these areas are more for relaxing. Instead, you need a work area that has a proper workspace (desk and chair) and lighting. If you have a space near a window, even better. Natural sunlight has numerous health benefits and can positively affect our productivity levels, too.
To counteract feeling lonely, install a webcam so that you can physically see the people you’re speaking with during virtual meetings.
4) Failure to See the Benefits
I love working remotely, which is why I chose to build the type of business that I have. But not everyone does! Many of us who enjoy the routine of going into the office each day is likely finding our current working situation tough.
A great way to make it better? Consider the positives gained from working at home. The lack of commute means more time can be spent with family. There’s an increase in financial savings since no travel or purchased lunches are required. And that annoying office worker? They can no longer stop by your office to interrupt whatever you’re doing.
For most of us, working remotely right now is only due to the coronavirus outbreak. Hopefully in no time at all, offices will be allowed to reopen and you’ll be welcome to return to your old desk.
And for those of us who realize how much they prefer working from home? Who knows, maybe the freelance copywriting world will become even more competitive after this pandemic is over!