I’ve worked from home on and off for over 10 years. I’ve also worked in an open-plan office. To be honest, I would never trade work at the former for the latter, even if it meant earning more money.
Working from home cuts out your commute, queuing to use a microwave or coffee machine in a busy kitchen and even small talk. If you are engaged in any type of deep or creative work, you'll accomplish far more working from home than you can in an open-plan office.
Consider Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. Many of its 940-plus employees work from their homes around the world. Buffer is another example of a company that prioritises remote working. If you want to work from home like employees of these successful companies, you must master at least three skills.
Confining Work To One Place
When I started working from home for the first time, I didn't pay much attention to where I worked. That was fine for a few weeks. Work was spilled out all over my house.
I’d lie on the couch with my laptop and check email or respond to requests. I couldn’t switch off properly on Friday or Saturday evenings when I was lying on the same couch.
The worst place to work from home is the bedroom, as your sleep will suffer. Instead, it’s far better to associate one place in your apartment or house with work.
If you’re lucky enough to have a home office, you can easily set up a workstation. If space is a constraint, consider picking one part of your apartment for work. For example, include a chair at the kitchen table.
The Art Of Over-Communication
If your company also has physical offices, you could be forgotten. To avoid this problem, use all of the communication tools at your disposal. Check-in early and often with your boss, colleagues and team members using email, instant messaging and so on.
I also like using Loom because it enables me to record short video responses instead of typing out lengthy emails. People begin to associate these videos with who I am, and they remember what I’m doing.
That said, there’s a fine line between checking in and responding to every notification, ding and email instantly. The novelist, Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom, famously removed his laptop’s Wi-Fi card, so he could write a novel without getting distracted by the internet.
This represents a hardcore approach, but you can disable internet access for 30 or 60 minutes using apps like Freedom or Rescue Time software. That’s long enough to concentrate on a troublesome project but not so long you’re disconnected from the office.
Priming Productive States
Homeworkers can get a lot done because they have fewer distractions. You can accomplish even more if you prime yourself to enter a productive, or flow, state.
Ask yourself, “What are the most important tasks I need to accomplish today?” Then write your next action on a sticky note. Attach it to your monitor or keyboard, so you can get right to work.
Music can help. The writer Stephen King blares AC/DC and heavy metal music when he’s writing novels at home in Maine. This approach helps him enter a state of creative flow faster. In Tribe of Mentors, Tim Ferriss recommends keeping geranium oil and dabbing a drop on your wrist when you really need to concentrate. Whatever your preference, it’s best to remove distractions from your home office or workspace, for example, a mobile phone, games console or television.
Working from home means you can say goodbye to the commute and a distracting open office. With the right skills, you can overcome any challenge and enjoy productive days away from a busy office.