Small Business Advice: How to Make Work-from-Home Work

Not everyone is cut out to work from home. Sure, it might be the dream for most Americans, but in the same way some individuals aren’t suited to be on their feet all day, while others go mad when stuck in a cubicle, working from home might not be a good fit for you or for your business.

If you’re an entrepreneur, this can be even more hazardous. Self-sabotage is far too common, and something as seemingly minor as your environment can bring your business dreams crumbling down.

I have worked at home for the past five years, and I have had remote teams all over the world working together. Over the years, I’ve encountered many problems within myself and my teammates, and I would like to share some of the solutions we have discovered to overcome them.

So, if you do want to try building a company from home, here are steps you can take to make working there more productive — and in turn, make your business more successful.

1. Find what works for you

Some people thrive in yoga pants on the couch, while others need to get dressed as if they’re meeting with a top executive in order to get work-motivated. Don’t simply adopt what works for someone else — experiment and find out what style works best for you and your company.

2. Set a schedule and stick to it

This is important for procrastinators and overachievers alike. Select which days you’ll be working and what time the daily grind starts and ends. And establishing basic rituals such as neatening your work area each evening or making a healthy power smoothie before checking your email is crucial. Humans thrive on familiarity and healthy habits — plus, it’ll get slowpokes moving and prevent Type A’s from working 24/7.

I have a set schedule every day. Wake up at the same time. I had to set alarms to eat to get me on the same schedule. This has helped me over the past two years to stay on the same schedule and stick to it.

3. Claim your work area

If you’re lucky enough to have an entire room as your home office, make sure it features ergonomic furniture, proper organization, good light (natural, if possible) and zero distractions. However, it’s okay if you don’t have that kind of luxury. No matter what your workspace may be, make sure it can’t double as anything else (like TV watching). Your brain and body need to identify this as “work time.”

I decided around two years ago to ditch everything but my desk in my office. Since then I feel my productivity went up to more than double what it was before. Get rid of distractions.

4. Indulge when appropriate

There are many benefits to working from home, such as being able to take that 10:30 a.m. spin class you love or walking the little ones to school each morning. If you can fit in these indulgences, even on a daily basis without compromising your work, do so. What’s the point of working from home if you opt out of all the perks? Just make sure none of them tempt you to stray for too long and you manage your time appropriately.

Don’t abuse this, people will start to notice. Don’t go posting on Facebook that you’re at spin class every day. This will not be good for you. Do take time for yourself though.

5. Remember, you and your fridge are not best buds

Think it’s tough to work in an office where the receptionist puts out donuts every Friday or where there’s a vending machine with a Reese’s screaming your name every time you fill up your coffee? Try working from home, where you can stock the kitchen however you like, and there are no eyes to judge you. You probably keep your doughnut consumption in check at the office, lest you get side-eye from the front desk staff. It’s tempting to let yourself go when you work at home, but turn it around to use it as a healthy opportunity.

Preparing fresh, healthy homemade meals for lunch instead of takeout? Yes, please.

Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse, but you’re in charge of which way the meter leans. Be honest with yourself and stick with healthy habits. After all, if you want this lifestyle for good, you’d better start practicing it right.




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