Tips to Advance Your Career While Working from Home
Remote work doesn’t mean you have to put your career ambitions on hold. Seize the moment with these helpful tips for working from home.
The experience of work is a lot different than it was just a short time ago. For many, the work environment has shifted from an office or coworking space to working remotely. While you work from the comfort of your home, it may be tempting to slip into the mindset that your career development is on hold, but now’s the time to stay on the ball, demonstrate your value at work, and plan for your long-term career trajectory.
Tip #1: If you work from home, use structure to stay efficient and motivated
Lying in bed and jumping into your work inbox isn’t optimal for getting motivated and transitioning into “work mode.” Start your day off right by sticking to a similar routine to the one you had before you were a remote worker: get out of bed, shower, get dressed, and eat a nutritious breakfast. You don’t need to necessarily wear what you would have to the office, but something that looks presentable over video conferencing and makes you feel put together will help you stay on point throughout the day.
When the physical space of your work overlaps with your living space, you need to be more thoughtful about how you structure your day, and that begins with your workspace. If possible, designate an area of your home as your “work from home” zone, ideally somewhere uncluttered with minimal distractions. Keep ergonomics in mind, too—being comfortable and finding optimal body positioning will boost your productivity, minimize distracting aches and pains, and elevate your mood while working from home.
Tip #2: To succeed while working from home, practice time management
Another element of structure is your time. In the absence of meetings, you should still make a schedule for your day, so you avoid aimlessly bouncing from project to project. Create a to-do list that syncs up with your work from home schedule. This will not only increase your efficiency, but make you feel more accomplished as you complete tasks. Having the to-do list to look back on can also be helpful when you check-in with your boss or team and recap them on what you’ve been working on.
Don’t forget to plan breaks into your work from home schedule. It sounds counterintuitive but planning for breaks will likely reduce the amount of time you spend not working. And if you can, commit to stopping work at the same time every day. It’s not uncommon for remote workers to overwork, which can quickly turn into burnout. By keeping a strict end time to your workday, you will stay more focused during the day, knowing you have a limited time to complete your work before you shut down.
Tip #3: Plan and execute excellent virtual meetings from home
Just because you’re not all in the room together doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put just as much effort into your meetings’ planning and execution. In fact, pulling off a truly great virtual meeting while working from home takes additional thought and preparation to get it right, and if you do, your boss and colleagues will take notice.
As you would with an in-person meeting, send a meeting agenda beforehand. Set clear goals for what it is you and the attendees need to accomplish, and be sure everyone is aware of them before logging in. Always account for some extra time before the meeting start time to test the technology. Nothing gets a meeting off to a worse start than having to troubleshoot tech issues for the first 10 or 15 minutes.
Use video to promote engagement and discourage attendees from multitasking. Virtual meetings are more effective when you can all read each other’s facial expressions. As mentioned already, while the company dress code may not necessarily apply to your guest bedroom, be sure to dress in a way that reflects well on you and sets the tone for how serious you’re taking the subject matter of the meeting.
If you must present, make it short and sweet. If one of your primary goals is to convey information, consider putting together a pre-read for attendees beforehand so you can spend most of your virtual meeting on discussion and sharing of perspectives and ideas. Take note of who’s talking and who isn’t. If appropriate, call on individuals to be sure everyone has a chance to weigh in. If it’s a large meeting of more than eight people, consider using a flash poll as a way to quickly ascertain the group’s feelings on a subject.
Before you end the meeting on time, make sure you save a couple minutes to outline next steps, assign tasks, and even plan for the next meeting. Immediately following, send a follow-up email with your notes and the assigned tasks to be sure everyone is aligned moving forward.
Tip #4: Develop your long-term career vision
Without the hustle and bustle of a commute, you’re likely to find yourself with some extra time on your hands when you work from home. Use this time to devote some thought and energy beyond your day-to-day tasks and think strategically about your long-term career goals.
Our free Career Planning Guide will walk you through key personal and professional questions you need to explore to set the course for the next steps of your career. This career plan template will help you learn about yourself, understand your responsibilities, identify what you want, and bring your career vision into focus.