Choosing To Work From Home: How To Transition From Office To Home Office

Choosing To Work From Home: How To Transition From Office To Home Office
Summary: After a full day of work, there is nothing better than heading home. For remote workers, transitioning from work-life to home-life tends to be a more difficult task and requires purposeful planning.

Ways To Effectively Transition From Office To Home Office

Working remotely sounds like a dream to most people I tell. Everyone gushes questions of how to make remote work a reality for them. They weave visions of pajama-bottom days and hot home-made lunches. While I do enjoy working in yoga pants and having unlimited first dibs on the microwave, disconnecting from the home office initially proved to be difficult. I often struggled to end my work day and began to form a negative association between home and work. With even the ideal job, experiencing work days as never-ending is less than enjoyable. In the absence of purposeful planning, it is easy to become a worker caught in an environment pervaded by work with an inability to completely transition home.

Working remotely is a trend quickly becoming commonplace. Chokshi (2017) noted, "More American employees are working remotely, and they are doing so for longer periods, according to a Gallup survey. Last year, 43% of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults". With the number of Americans spending time working remotely on an uptrend with no end in sight, attention needs to be paid to how to help the remote adjustment be a favorable one. As many employees seek out a flexible work situation to pursue a greater work-life balance, the most important step toward this goal is to ensure remote employees have a plan in place to transition from work-life to home-life to avoid burn out.

Maintaining A Commute

I previously cursed my commute to work battling traffic, but quickly languished its absence as an established time to decompress from the day and transition into my home-life. Even though working remotely no longer required a commute, I learned that I needed to implement some sort of commute activity to allow me to unplug from the day. The act of physically disconnecting from the workspace is one not to be undervalued. For the last month, I have maintained the practice of transitioning from work to home by walking our dog immediately following me logging off and shutting down my computer. This ritual has saved me from feeling my work day had no end and allowed me to re-enter my home refreshed. Having this routine not only disconnected me physically from my work but also eliminated any feelings of guilt for shutting down after prescribed work hours. It is easy to feel compelled to continue working when there is not a mass exodus for the building door, but having this routine in place, I was able to sustain this important work-life boundary.

Establishing A Dedicated Workspace

When returning from my "commute" to work on my online college classes, I would move to another location in the house. For the few days I continued to carry out my daily tasks in my home office, I felt trapped in a never-ending work loop. It is essential to set-up space completely dedicated to work and honor the boundary of that space. Pope (2018) noted, "Putting a dedicated workstation (meaning, for me, simply a desk in the guest bedroom) boosted my productivity. I don’t do anything at my desk that’s not work-related—and I never work from the couch [...] It doesn’t need to be a full-blown home office. Even a cozy corner, work desk, or specially-designed chair can help create that mental (and physical) separation". As with the act of a commute, the physical separation from work and the workspace is essential to disconnecting and reclaiming the haven nature of the home. Do bills at the kitchen table, blog in the living room, or completely online courses at the counter. Establishing the routine of separating from the home office allows for personal activities to remain unclouded of work worries.

Working remotely is steeped in tangible benefits to both employees and companies. Additionally, a flexible work environment has the possibility of creating the highly sought-after work-life balance for those employees that intentionally put plans in place to transition from work-life to home-life. Thoughtfully curating commute-type routines and establishing clear workspace boundaries are both important steps to a successful remote work experience.