At first, the reality of being able to work from home forever can seem absolutely glorious; a picture-perfect situation with no possible downsides. You get to work in your own personal space, in your own way, and you can do it all while wearing a pair of tracksuit pants. Hurray, writes Alison Hill.
But then, over time, a couple of things start dawning on you – this working-from-home thing can get lonely. You can fall into slumps of low motivation and you may even start to feel a little disconnected from the team you work with.
In order to make working from home an enjoyable, engaging experience long-term there are a few things you should keep in mind and work on regularly. Let’s explore them now.
Managing your energy is critical to performing at your best, for the long haul. But what does energy management actually mean?
Well, at its core, energy management in a work-from-home setting means getting curious about and taking note of how your energy levels shift and change
throughout any given day.
Through careful inquiry and self-observation, perhaps over the course of a week or two, you might notice that you tend to feel more creative in the mornings. Or, you may find that through a bit of experimentation that if you have an earlier lunch you feel more energised in the afternoons.
As a team you may want to implement a collective energy management rhythm to keep each other motivated and energetic throughout the day. This might look like having a dedicated Slack channel where you share how you’re “seizing the midday” or you might even encourage “walk and talk” meetings.
When your daily work schedule is largely driven by your own choices, as it is for most work-from-home employees, you need to approach work in a way that flows with your energy levels. That might mean restructuring your workday around blocks of time, planning out your week in advance on a Monday or simply doing certain tasks at certain times of the day.
There are many ways you can adjust the way you work from home to best align with a good energy management strategy. With this in mind you’ll find that high performance is much easier to achieve.
It can be a slippery slope of demotivation when working from home if you’re not careful. It’s easier than ever to jump from task to task without celebrating project milestones or a job well done.
When this happens, we can start to feel like we’re going through the motions rather than doing meaningful work.
Stack on top of that poor energy management and disconnection from colleagues and we’ve got a mighty recipe for a motivation breakdown.
In order to thrive in a work-from-home setting you’ll need to map your motivation; that is, you’ll need to proactively plan for and celebrate milestones along the way.
Map your motivation by using visual planning tools like monday.com or a good old-fashioned Post-it Note on a wall to help track your progress and fuel positive feelings of achievement and accomplishment.
When something goes well, or a big problem is tackled, find a way to celebrate it even if it’s as simple as taking yourself out to lunch. The more you can stop and appreciate the small moments of success in a work-from-home setting, the better placed you’ll be for a happy WFH life.
The last piece of the puzzle is team connection. In order for work from home to truly “work” for you, you’ll need to create space and time in your day to connect with your team.
Working from home doesn’t mean you’re no longer a part of a team, but it can feel like it when you don’t get to see the people you know face to face while in a shared office space.
A quick phone call, Slack banter session or team video call go a long way in improving your relationship and connection with your colleagues. The more frequently you connect with your colleagues, the easier it will be to work together and communicate effectively while working remotely.
Overall when looking at working from home for the long-term the most important thing is for you to create an environment and structure that allows you to perform at a high level consistently, connect with your colleagues, and feel motivated and engaged in the work you do.
It really is possible when consistent, meaningful effort and emotional wisdom come into alignment.
Alison Hill is the co-author of the new book Work From Anywhere and is a registered psychologist and chief executive of three-time AFR Fast 100 company, Pragmatic Thinking.