Zaheer Dodhia is CEO of LogoDesign.net, & a serial entrepreneur who has a passion for graphic design and investments.
The 2020 pandemic saw an unprecedented rise in working from home. Even companies that never thought they would be able to keep their productivity up outside of a workplace setting saw that it was possible — although, for most of us, it took quite a bit of wrangling.
Now, of course, the push to remote work has been a focus for over a year. Whether you’ve been working from your couch since last April or you’ve only recently made the decision to downsize your office space and move your business to your home address, there are ways to make it happen — and ways to scuttle yourself if you’re not careful.
The move to remote work is rife with challenges, including (but certainly not limited to):
But for every challenge, there’s a solution. Put as simply as possible, the answers to these particular challenges include (but are certainly not limited to):
Let’s take a look at how you can implement each one to make the transition to remote work as smooth as possible.
One of the main concerns with switching to a work-from-home business model is the concern about maintaining productivity. The fact is that there are far more distractions at home, and at times we are our own worst enemy. It’s much easier to procrastinate when we could be cleaning the living room, doing laundry, or browsing our refrigerators.
To cut down on these concerns, experts recommend sticking to a set schedule for your work time. This doesn’t mean that you have to follow the exact same schedule that you would normally have in an office setting — it’s important to be reasonable, which we’ll talk about next — but it does mean having established hours for work. Knowing that you have a start time and an end time will help you to resist the impulse to involve yourself in non-work tasks during those hours. You could even “log in” as if you were punching a time clock to increase accountability.
Regardless of whether you’re working out of an office or from your home, you still have the same amount of work to accomplish, and the same amount of hours to get things done. You can expect a little wobbliness in your schedule as you first make the transition, but do your best to get into a regular routine as quickly as possible so that you don’t fall behind and become overwhelmed.
As you switch over to working from home, you may find that your income seems to have stalled, especially while you’re actually taking the time you need to establish a home office.
If you’re seeing a cash flow problem, it’s time to start thinking outside the box.
What assets from your office can you re-use in your home office? Items can be repurposed, refinished, rebuilt, and even renovated as necessary. Furniture like desks and chairs are simple to switch over, but if they won’t fit your new office space, sell them and opt for compact, cheaper furnishings from places like Ikea.
Are you getting rid of your old tech and tools but don’t have the money to upgrade? Turn your existing items into a profit that can go towards buying new. You can use sites like Craigslist and CashforUseDLaptop.com to get rid of office furniture and sell your office laptops in bulk to get some additional cash.
Along with that work schedule, make sure your schedule incorporates the necessary tasks of daily life. When working from home, especially when running your own business, it can be tempting to fall into the mindset of “always on call.” If you’re home, and you have a few minutes, you might as well get some work done, even if it’s the weekend, right?
Wrong. While it’s one thing to need to take time to catch up on tasks, it’s quite another not to schedule any time for non-work-related activities. This is especially important if you have a family at home. Establish priorities for your non-work hours, and follow through on them. Have set hours that you stop picking up the phone or returning calls. Take a few days, or half days, off every week.
If you don’t set a reasonable schedule, you run the risk of getting exhausted and burnt out very quickly, which will make working from home a much harder task.
Some small business owners have always made do with very limited employees, perhaps even just one or two. Others simply do all the work themselves.
With the economic downturn, more employees have seen their hours cut back or furloughs added — or even been dropped entirely, in the case of many small businesses that were forced to close their doors.
Employee downsizing is a consequence that you have likely seen in your business, but that doesn’t mean that the amount of work has dropped to match. As you transition to working from home, you may find that your need for help outstrips the ability of your employees to pitch in.
Don’t panic! This is the time to turn to freelancing.
Sites like UpWork and Fiverr provide a freelance marketplace for just about every job that is possible to do virtually. Look for top-rated freelancers with plenty of availability, the right skill set, and good communication to cut down on your workload and on your stress.
Who would have thought, a year ago, that we would ever get sick and tired of Zoom? Businesses have been utilizing the video conferencing app to the max, some companies even checking in on their employees every day — or even multiple times a day!
It’s all in the name of productivity and team-building, but the fact is that it’s downright exhausting, and Zoom fatigue is a real thing. The combination of feeling almost spied on and consistently having a demand on your attention can actually lessen productivity and make employees want to break away from their team — the exact opposite of the intended effect.
Of course, communication is extremely important for a business, so you can’t just shut it off entirely. But experts recommend limiting your video communication and looking for other ways to reach out. Sending a text, especially one that doesn’t have to be responded to right away, is generally more preferable to an individual, especially if they’re in the middle of working on a project.
Following a daily routine is highly recommended for productivity on all levels. And it isn’t just about checking your email first thing in the morning. The entire morning routine, from coffee to checking the news to turning on your computer, acts to get you in a productive mindset.
Try to get up at your normal time, even if you’re no longer commuting to work. Dress as you would for a normal workday; try to resist the powerful enticement to work in your pajamas!
It’s helpful to make lists to check off tasks as you complete them, giving you a gratifying sense of accomplishment. And make sure to incorporate breaks throughout the workday, just as you would if you were still going to your office. This will help you to minimize the lure of distractions around you.
Speaking of your office, one of the biggest challenges of working from home is the challenge of space. Generally speaking, every room in our home is already being used for something. And we may not have any extra space to set up an office, especially if we have kids at home.
However, having a dedicated space to work from is a much bigger boost to productivity than simply working from your couch, and it operates hand in hand with the earlier points about setting a routine and a schedule. Just like having plenty of space to work out increases the likelihood that you will follow through on your fitness goals, having a comfortable, peaceful, quiet place to work will enhance your ability to do so.
But if you have a small house or kids at home, this can be a challenge. If you don’t have an extra room to convert into an office, consider dedicating a corner in your bedroom, living room, or kitchen as your workspace. You may not be able to close a door and wall yourself off from the family, so make sure that your spouse, children, and any other occupants of the house know that you need quiet around you during work hours. Writing out your schedule and posting it on the wall may also help your kids to put off their desire to distract you until after the workday is done.
Switching your business to a home office certainly comes with challenges. But there are hundreds of reasons why remote work is rapidly becoming the new norm: finances, work/life balance, and, importantly, health.
By implementing these seven keys, you can make your transition to remote work go as smoothly as possible, and see continued growth and success in your business even as the challenges of current circumstances continue.
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