Being your own best boss and employee – rules for working from home
“Working from home would be nice,” said no one ever after spending months in lockdown with their children and partner trying to conduct video meetings online. Fast forward to 2021 (if only we had access to that button this time last year), and many people are returning to the office or doing a home/work hybrid. Some businesses are transforming their thinking (aka cost saving) and opting for employees to work from home full-time. But even if you have to endure the same 4 walls indefinitely, at least you have colleagues. But what if you don’t?
Let’s explore the solopreneur, the freelancer, the creative – they were alone before lockdown and so it is again. Used to their own company, some have relished the months of companionship that has come and gone. Now, a readjustment is taking place again and it’s back to staring into the middle distance looking for inspiration, instead of bouncing ideas off others, even if it was just their husbands staring back at them blankly.
Sure, being self-employed has its freedoms. You can wear pyjamas all day, visit the fridge every hour, and house porn your heart out checking online real estate sites, dreaming of the day you’ll live off the land and really go zero waste. But I digress.
Suffice to say, for the solopreneur working alone is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Mustering self-discipline takes dedication, business systems and processes are down to you as both the owner of and employee in your business, and lurking self-doubt can be a killer.
So if you’re new to working from home full time or your partner is returning back to work and you’re getting used to being on your own again, here are some things you can do to re-focus on your own:
Set up your workspace
The environment is important. Just ask a Feng Shui expert. But short of engaging one, take some time to design a calm and functional office space so you can optimise productivity.
Define your work hours
It’s easy for work to spill over into home life when working from home. Interruptions to tend to domestic issues can extend your work day and soon there is no delineation between house and office. This can erode your quality of life in both areas. So, set work hours and stick to them and make sure everyone else in the family respects them too.
Sounds simple enough but, just like those people who put on activewear in the morning to do the school run because they don’t have enough time to shower and end up in the same gear at night having done no exercise to legitimise the wearing of them, it’s a slippery slope. Do yourself a favour and put on some proper threads even if you’re seeing no one. You’ll feel better. And if you feel better, you’ll do better.
Speaking of seeing people, set up meetings (observing restrictions of course), to both give structure to your day and not lose touch with how to interact with other peers. Often when we converse with others it stimulates ideas that we may not have thought of on our own. Also, it’s easy to waste time when you have no commitments. So a few meetings will force you to manage your time on either side of them.
Working with colleagues around us anchors us. Even if we want to go get a snack every time we’re trying to nut something out we don’t. There’s an accountability that forces us to stay in our seat. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take breaks. Scheduling them in advance turns lack and depletion into more goal oriented productivity. Besides, every hour we should probably take 5 minutes to stretch our bodies and our eyes if we’re sat at a desk staring at a screen the rest of the day.
Connect and collaborate
Joining networks is a good way to stay connected to your industry and the people within it. Online groups can be vital sounding boards when you’re toiling alone in your own business, and have the added benefit of being populated by people who probably don’t really know you so you don’t have to feel silly asking questions. So search for memberships that relate to your line of work locally or further afield and join. You can stay silent on the sidelines if you like and just keep abreast of what others are saying if you’re not comfortable speaking up.
Value what you’re creating
Last but not least make sure you celebrate what you’re doing. Not just the big wins, but making it to the end of the week too. If you were in a corporate office you’d probably be having to knock off drinks, so do yourself a favour and at least give yourself a pat on the back each Friday. Better yet, pay yourself. You don’t want to go thinking what a bad boss you are right?