Take it from me: There are a lot of upsides to working from home, and I’m not the only one who’s recognized them.
According to a Flexjobs survey of more than 2,100 people, nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents wanted to keep working from home full time after the pandemic, while one-third (33%) wanted a hybrid arrangement, and just 2% preferred a return to the office.
Count me among that first group. Being a solopreneur mom, working from home gave me the freedom to work with my older daughter on her schoolwork during the pandemic and take both my girls outside for a backyard picnic lunch when we got stir-crazy from being in lockdown.
I’d been working from home before that, but I never realized how much I enjoyed it until the pandemic hit, and I had to do it! This leads me to the first of several ways I’ve found to stay upbeat about working from home, which is…
Focus on the positive
Not only have I gotten to spend more time with my kids because I work remotely, I’ve gotten to spend more time with my husband, too. His job isn’t as flexible as mine is, so I can work around his schedule to plan date nights, lunches, or do-it-together home projects. He even half-jokes that he’s jealous of me and sometimes wishes he had the flexibility to work around my schedule instead.
How cool is it to work from home? That Flexjobs survey I mentioned found that a whopping 58% of people who responded said they’d actually look for a different job if they weren’t allowed to keep working remotely. That’ll make employers sit up and take notice.
Here are just a few of the positive things about remote work:
- You don’t have to commute, so you can spend that old drive time doing your own thing and less money on gas.
- If you have a doctor’s appointment or other personal obligation, you can work around it more easily.
- You can spend more time with your family.
- You don’t have coworkers dropping by your desk to shoot the breeze when you’re trying to focus on a deadline project.
- If you’re a “night person,” you can do your work then instead of being confined to typical work hours.
- You’ve got flexibility to handle a crisis, such as your daughter’s lost hamster. (We found him safe and sound, thank goodness.)
Create your own space
Burnout can happen easily when everything seems impersonal, and one advantage to working from home is that you can personalize your space so it’s more than a dull, gray cubicle.
If you’ve got a basement or guest room, why not convert it into a full-fledged office and decorate it to suit your own tastes? That’s what I did. I brought in a couple of ferns, hung vintage movie posters on the walls, and set up a mini-bookcase within reach of my desk where I keep resource materials for work on the bottom two shelves.
The top shelf, though, is pure personal fun: I’ve got my collection of Pop! figures there, including Yoda and the crew from “Schitt’s Creek.”
Change things up
One way people get burned out is by doing the same thing over and over again from the same place. But working remotely doesn’t have to mean working from home — especially now that lockdowns are mostly a thing of the past.
Take your laptop to the park and work from there for a change of scenery. Or now that things have started to open up again, try the local coffee shop. The library is my own personal favorite because it’s quiet there, and it’s got resources you still can’t find online. The Dewey decimal system is my friend!
Hit the road
You can provide even more variety by working from the road. And you don’t have to feel guilty for it. Incorporating more fun into your life can actually make you more productive.
Rent a trailer for a week or two, hitch it to your car, and make the highway your office. With all the miles you’re saving by not having to commute, your car should be in good shape for a business-as-pleasure road trip.
Still, be sure to give your car a checkup (oil, brakes, coolant, tires) before you hit the road, and take along an emergency vehicle kit just in case something goes wrong. It’s a good idea to have a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, and basic tools on board. One of the best ways to stay positive is to be prepared for the negative: like breaking down and getting stranded.
Create boundaries for yourself
One of the potential pitfalls of working from home is letting your work and home life blend together. If you don’t set boundaries, you might find yourself working longer hours.
I put a “do not disturb” sign on my home office door and made sure to let my family know when I was working. I also let my clients know on my website that my business officially closed at 6 p.m. (I teach online courses, and I never schedule them later than that.)
Finally, don’t overextend yourself. Try scheduling your work at 80% of your total capacity to make room for the unexpected without sacrificing your free time.
Those are just a few ways I’ve found to stay upbeat while working from home, and it really has been a positive experience for me — not to mention millions of other people — because it’s opened up a host of exciting new possibilities. It can for you, too.
Jessica Larson is a married mom in the Midwest, and a solopreneur with a goal of earning a decent income for her family without sacrificing the scheduling flexibility that lets her actually spend time with them. She’s become a sort of a “serial entrepreneur,” starting and running several successful businesses through the years. Currently, she creates online courses for students, which are either taught live by her or accessed later at their convenience. It’s especially important for Jessica to act as a role model for her two young daughters, to show them how to dream big, realize their ambitions, and “be the boss” in whatever ways they want.
Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.