Work life changed drastically for many people when the pandemic started, including the move to working from home, at least part of the week. And even though many companies are asking their employees to return to work more frequently now, many still prefer to WFH.
How can we blame them? Almost everyone claims that they are more productive at home; they gain extra time to work when they can skip the commute and they get more done when there is less need to socialize with co-workers and when the kitchen is steps away for coffee or meals.
For those of you who have been working from home, you have already set up your office to fit your needs. But… sometimes, a change of scenery is needed! A short walk outside (even a short drive to somewhere) can change the mood and energy level for the better. Or, consider working at a new location for a few hours to keep things fresh and exciting.
Here are some ideas for changing up the scenery for those who WFH, and how to make it happen without sacrificing the comforts and conveniences offered by home. And just so you know, I’ve worked in corporate settings and mid-sized companies, so my ideas below consider the unique circumstances and expectations that come with those types of employers/cultures.
Before we get to the ideas, what are the “comforts and conveniences offered by home?” Maybe they are access to the kitchen, laundry room (there’s nothing wrong with doing laundry simultaneously!) and treadmill, and maybe it’s the ability to wear sweatpants all day long (even when you have calls!). You don’t really have to give these up to work somewhere else for a couple of hours. Consider your meal times, workout times and to-do’s at home, and just arrange your schedule accordingly. And wear whatever you want!
Now, let’s talk about how to actually make working away from home happen seamlessly.
- Pick a Day – It’s so easy to let the schedule fill up with calls all day long when you work from home. The first step to allowing yourself to have the flexibility to have an occasional change of scenery is to pick a day (or two) of the week that you’ll dedicate to working away from the home office. Then, decide what the length of time will be that you’ll block off in your calendar, to be free of video and conference calls, as much as possible. For example, you can decide that every Tuesday morning, from 9 am to 12 pm, you’ll accept as few calls as possible.
- Get the Right Tools – If it’s impossible to avoid conference calls, make sure you have the right technology to take calls while at a coffee shop, and be sure the volume settings are correct, so that you’re not disturbing others when you have to hop on a call. Don’t forget:
- Power cord and charger
- Headphones or earbuds
- Notebook and pens
- Keys, mobile phone and computer if necessary
- Water bottle
- Find the Right Spot – You can create a couple of spaces in your house, such as a desk in your bedroom, a corner in the living room, one end of the dining table, or a nook in the basement. Sometimes, you just need to get out of the house, though. After having worked at many different places with my sister when we go on our work dates, I have found that the best places to work are coffee shops, certain restaurants and public libraries. Additionally, consider these other free locations:
- Your own back yard
- A friend’s home (set up occasional work dates)
- Hotel lobbies
- Community centre
- Community park (many have covered structures with tables and chairs or picnic tables)
Just make sure there are outlets if you need power for an extended period of time. And the other requirement is low noise level. You may need to try out different locations in your area before making them your regular spots. I encourage you to get out of the house and try this! Routine is good, but don’t be afraid to take advantage of your freedom and mix in a bit of fun and excitement by way of changing up your work spot from time to time.
Let me know in the comments if you do this already, and if you have any additional thoughts and ideas about working from home but not working from home. =)