Written by Guest Blogger, Matt Craven
It’s that time of the day again. As a Project Manager on the Talent Acquisition team, I’m off to work, searching for great talent. I arrive to my office at 5:30AM every morning. It’s dark and quiet. It doesn’t stay that way for long.
I sit at my desk, power up my computer, and sip my morning chocolate milk (sorry, I’m a coffee hater). My day begins in earnest. I check email, voicemail, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I have a few meetings, work on some projects. The day is flashing before my eyes.
You could say that this is a typical day for most working professionals. The only difference, I work remotely from my home office. This has been my way of life at Schneider Electric for the past five and a half years.
Working from home certainly has its benefits:
- I can start my day early to get to work on the things I need to get done.
- I have a quiet work space with fewer distractions so I can be more productive.
- No commute. Unless you count the 50 feet I have to walk to get to my office. That eliminates the stress of rush hour traffic, is better for the environment, and saves me thousands in gas each year.
- I can prepare healthy meals right in my own kitchen.
- Great work/life balance. When the day is done, I turn off my computer and I’m home to enjoy the evening with my family.
- You certainly can’t beat the view! This keeps my stress to a minimum.
As great as those benefits are, there are definitely some challenges to working from home. If you don’t plan accordingly, you can set yourself up for failure.
Some of the challenges include:
- You are by yourself. Can you manage working where you do not have people around you to collaborate with or to simply chit chat about the day?
- Sometimes the resources you’d love to have right next to you are not immediately available. Phone calls, email, and instant messages have to replace face-to-face interaction.
- There are distractions that could ruin your day quickly. Maybe it’s a dog, spouse, or child that’s home with you. The little things at home can easily distract from more pressing work obligations.
- You can run the risk of over-working. Your office is at home, and it can be hard to separate your work time from your personal time.
- You work a few steps from a full kitchen, meaning you can eat whatever you want. If done right, that can be a benefit, but temptation can make it hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
These challenges are there for almost everyone who works from home. You have to overcome them to be successful.
Here are some tips I’ve learned:
Collaborate, network and build relationships
I make a point every day to speak with at least two colleagues on my team by phone. I need this to feel like I’m part of a team. Fortunately, I’m involved in many projects where I work with cross-functional teams. With today’s technology, it’s easy to stay in touch, yes this means use video conferencing whenever possible it just makes it more real. Remember, just because they’re not in the room with you, it doesn’t mean everything has to be about business. Sometimes I’ll ask my colleagues in Boston, “What happened in the office today?”
Have a daily plan
Set a plan to accomplish each task you know must get done. Set daily and weekly goals, create task or project lists of things you want to achieve. This will make you more efficient and allow you to accomplish more in less time.
Remember, to be realistic, just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have 24 hours to work. Try to work working the same number of hours you would if you were at the office. Turn off the computer, get up and walk away when the day is over. Get out of the office and recharge.
Many people who work from home will have music, television on “in the background” or even worse, they keep their social media accounts open. Don’t give in to these temptations! You will find yourself distracted for a few moments and before you know it, hours have passed!
Have a designated work space
Have a dedicated place where you can set up your laptop, monitors, and focus without distractions, will make you more productive. You don’t need a full office setup, you just need to have a space where you are comfortable and can function at 100%. Remember, even though you’re home, you’re at work. Do not work at the kitchen table, or working from the couch it just won’t work!
When working from home, it’s easy to forget to step away, but this is a must! It will help you recharge, energize, stay focused and keep your sanity. Take time to walk the dog, grab a healthy snack, or get something to drink. My favorite is to go to the garage and hit the heavy bag for a few moments.
Working from home requires you to be disciplined. It’s not for everyone, but if you can make it work, it can be very rewarding. If you take some of my advice, it will benefit you, and your company!
Matt Craven is a senior strategic sourcer & program manager at Schneider Electric. With 20 years of experience in talent acquisition in various industries including healthcare, financial services, energy, and technology. He drives results by finding the purple squirrels (not always with technology either) and gets his candidates to accept!
Matt leads various continuous improvement projects that drive talent acquisition as a “strategic partner” through research, data and building relationships. He helps shape how organizations look at recruitment functions.
Passion drives him. When he’s not out hunting for great people, Matt is spending time with the family in the Pacific Northwest, hiking, kayaking and exploring the beautiful beaches along the Oregon coast.
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