Most employees would jump at the opportunity to work from home or enjoy the freedom of a flexible work schedule. You set your own hours, you work when it’s convenient for you, work wherever you want, wearing whatever you want, no one watches over your shoulder all day long...who wouldn’t want that?

I’ve had the opportunity to experience both ends of the spectrum. I’ve gone from an office cubicle to a home office, luckily, keeping the same job at the same company. I now work 548 miles away from my employer and only see my boss’s and coworkers about once a month, sometimes less.

I wouldn’t say the transition has been easy, but I’ve adjusted. There are definitely pros and cons to both environments and not everyone is suited to work remotely, just like an office job isn’t for everyone either. However, I wanted to share a few tips and experiences that will hopefully make you a more productive work-from-home employee if that’s the path you have decided (or are required) to take.

Provide your own compensation and motivate yourself.

When your manager or boss isn’t regularly peering around the corner of your cubicle walls, watching over your shoulder, or monitoring your every move, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to actually do your work. Therefore, you’ll need to find your own form of compensation or self-motivation.

This might simply be that you love your job and genuinely enjoy what you do. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. I’m sure there are a million other things you could or would rather be doing. Personally, I enjoy knowing that my work is appreciated or being told that I’m doing a good job. This motivates me to continue working hard.

Maybe you prefer tangible compensation. Perhaps you’re working towards a raise or promotion. The only way to achieve that is to work hard and impress your boss. Because he/she won’t be able to see the amount of time and effort you’re putting in every day, your finished products will need to reflect that.

You can’t go out for drinks with your friends until you finish all of your work tasks for the day to the best of your ability. When you finish your upcoming project and presentation and your boss is pleased, reward yourself with a getaway with friends, your significant other, or family.

Hold yourself to higher standards and reward yourself when you meet those goals and expectations.

Be sure that your office includes everything you’ll need to effectively complete your regular work tasks.

You can’t be successful without your necessary ingredients. An office conveniently provides you with a workstation, storage, computer(s), office supplies, etc. However, these things are not luxuries you’re granted while setting up your home office. Here’s a shortlist of everything you’ll need for your home office:

  • Privacy
  • A Desk
  • A Comfortable Chair
  • Storage
  • Office Supplies
  • Sufficient Lighting
  • Temperature Controls
  • Plants & Decor
  • Clock & Planner Or Calendar
  • Trash Can & Paper Shredder
  • Necessary Tech
  • Backup

If your particular job title requires a few additional items (supplies or must-have furniture pieces), add those to the list as well.

If you’re having difficulty staying on task, try something new.

You may be having trouble staying on task due to distractions such as family members, pets, house chores, your cell phone, the TV, or a wandering mind. I find my mind wandering to anything other than work pretty often. Sometimes it helps me to change up my scenery. I’ll work outside on the porch or maybe at the kitchen counter if I’m home alone. If your current environment isn’t working, don’t hesitate to try something new until you discover what works best for you.

Some people prefer a secluded room with complete silence and free from distraction; a home office, for example. Others work best in public settings, surrounded by other people. These are the people that probably work best in an office setting, however, if this isn’t an option for you, check out your local coworking spaces or maybe visit a coffee shop for a few hours to get some work done.

Just because you “work from home,” doesn’t mean you’re confined to only your home. You have the freedom to work from wherever you like.

Eliminate any and all distractions.

Distractions are the biggest setback when it comes to remote working and the most common reason for failure in this working environment. Eliminate any and all of your distractions to keep you on track and focused. If your pets pull your focus away from your work, don’t allow them in your office. If other family members distract you throughout the day, again, keep your office door shut and explain that you are not to be disturbed.

Turn off the TV. If your personal cell phone isn’t needed for your work, turn it off or keep it in another room. It’s as simple as that. Without your boss there to tell you to put your phone away or stay off of Facebook, you’ll need to discipline yourself. Set your rules and follow them.

Plan your days ahead of time.

You’d be surprised at how much it will help you stay on task when planning out your days ahead of time. Set a schedule for the week with each work task you want to complete each day. Your workday is not over until you complete each item on the list.

This isn’t restricted to just work tasks either. Plan out your entire day or week and set aside a sufficient amount of time for everything you wish to accomplish that day. Include work-related tasks, house chores, errands, and social plans.

This may seem excessive, but I keep a planner for appointments, events, social plans, and daily work tasks, a content calendar for blog posts and social media posts (for work), a weekly to-do list for non work-related tasks, and a weekly calendar for scheduling (non work-related) events and plans. I’ve never had a scheduling issue or any problems completing both work and daily tasks and chores or scheduling my social life.

Transitioning to a remote working position from an office job is a big change and it can be difficult to adjust; especially when no one is there to help you through the process or provide you with helpful tips. I guess that’s what I’m here for. If you have the choice of which work environment you prefer, consider the pros and cons of both, your daily work tasks, and what type of employee you are. What environments do you find yourself working best in? Set a work environment to allow you to be your most productive self.