As working from home in virtual offices is becoming more and more common, people are beginning to discover its many benefits and it’s no longer unusual to when a client excuses themselves for a minute to go check on the baby in the other room or you can hear a dog barking or children playing in the background.
It is challenging to work in a virtual office at home as it’s easy to get distracted by the typical household life but if you set it up thoughtfully and establish a firm work routine and schedule, business will run successfully.
Design your workspace
To minimize all the distractions, it’s necessary to set up your home office as a place where you will only do work. It’s best if it can be a spare room but if that’s not an option, a designated space in the form of a nook or a corner with a desk and a chair will do. What matters is that there’s some sort of separation between where you work and where you live.
If your work requires you to communicate with your clients on camera, presenting yourself in a professional manner is very important. It's not just about how you look, but it's also about what's behind you. It's surely very off-putting if clients can see piles of laundry or a messy bed in the background.
Put some thought and effort into designing your background. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive but rather something convenient and creative such as a strategically placed room divider or a bookcase. The way you design your workspace can tell a lot about your own creative energy that you put into your business. As this master's degree in product and interior design explains, any ground-breaking work involves creativity and ingenuity.
Have a precise work schedule
Another thing that helps is having a work schedule. It’ll help you enforce your work routine and manage your life in general. Working from home means you can be flexible, but it doesn’t mean you should have a schedule. Set one up and do your best to stick to it. It doesn’t have to be 9 to 5, but it should be clearly defined.
Moreover, lose the jammies and get properly dressed for work. You don’t have to suit up but have some workable clothes for home that will make you feel professional and confident, like a low key dress or comfy jeans and a button-down shirt. It depends on the industry you're in, but you should wear something that makes you feel good.
Show that you are really there
One of the biggest issues when working from home is that you can’t see people at their desks as opposed to being physically in the office at work where you can just walk to your colleague, ask informal questions, share ideas and resources. However, when you can’t see people, collaborating can get a bit challenging.
It’s important to show your presence so use apps that allow you to set your status to show you’re there. It’s as if you can be seen at your desk, which is a genuine sign of your reliability and responsibility which must be one of the most appreciated qualities in business. Of course, this also means you’ll be there on time for video conferences and that you’ll reply to your e-mail by 5 pm and send in your reports when expected.
Establish a work routine
Without a clearly defined work routine, you’ll find things a bit chaotic, as you get up each morning, answer your e-mails in your jammies, sip your coffee, run to the kitchen to prep a meal and then get back to do some more work. This creates pressure and makes your workday seems endless. Instead, create a routine that resembles an actual going to work – create a mental division between you being at home and you being at work.
For instance, get dressed for work in the morning and have your coffee before you sit at your desk. After you're done with work, go to the gym or grocery shopping to mark the end of your workday. Different things work for different people so you just need to find what works for you.
For most people, the positive sides outweigh the negatives when it comes to working virtually. Once you figure out how to manage your responsibilities, being alone for longer periods of time and communication issues, things go smoother and you can enjoy working from anywhere, be it your apartment, a hotel room in a foreign country, a café or a beach. It surely opens up a sea of opportunities waiting for you to test them out!
About Jennifer Hahn Masterson
Jennifer Hahn Masterson is the Lead Content Strategist at Spread the Word Solutions, holding an MA degree in business communication. She is always doing her best to help her clients find their place in the ever so competitive business arena, insisting on long-term sustainability rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast scheme. You can check her out on LinkedIn.