A little background: I am not new to the Work From Home (WFH) life. I have worked from home for the better part of the last 6 ½ years. Almost 5 years ago, I had my first child and then this summer, during the pandemic, I had a second, which meant there were two kids at home while working. This is all to tell you that I know how rough WFH can be. But, working from home can also be fantastic if you do it right.
- Create a workspace. When I first started working from home, I worked from the couch and coffee shops. After having a child while living in a small apartment, I moved my work station to my bed. I even bought a fold-up desk and placed it next to the bed. The problem with working from your bed or the couch is that you never really get to leave work. Yes, it’s super comfy. But, the beauty of working from an office is that when you leave the office, you are more easily able to mentally leave your work behind. If you’re working from spaces that you continuously spend time at home in, it creates the problematic mental task of removing yourself from your work. Find a small corner if you have to and set yourself up there. That is your “office.”
- Leave your house. This is very important. Get up and go for a walk or to the coffee shop. Just leave. You’ll start to hate being home, especially during this pandemic, when going anywhere is difficult.
- Set ground rules with those in your household. If you follow tip 1 above, make sure that the people in your house know that when you’re working in your designated workspace, that you need to be left to work unless it is an emergency. Or a kid shit on the floor.
- Family life balance. This is trickier but let me tell you how we have handled it. If you have a partner/co-parent working from home and no childcare, set a schedule. This way, one of you gets uninterrupted work time for a couple hours or so. One or the other cannot take on all of the kid duties and still get work done during work hours. If you happen to have a more flexible job, you can, as I have, tried to work once the kids are in bed. Also, I totally do not have a 3-month-old yelling and looking at me like I don't love her right now. Why do you ask?
- If your company is traditionally in-office, overcommunicate with your boss/manager in the beginning. Everyone worries that their people will be just taking naps and binge-watching The Six Million Dollar Man. In my experience, it tends to be the opposite. When working from home, it’s harder to leave work, so I, and many other WFH counterparts I know, end up putting in a lot more hours than when in the office.
- Lastly, cut yourself some slack. Transitioning to WFH is difficult – family being around or not. Just remember to get your shit done, and you’ll be fine.