How to Work From Home and Actually Be Productive

One of the founding principles of our company is to do things differently. Our agency president (or as I like to call him, my husband) is always preaching the practice of constant daily improvement in everything we do. This is how we are able to excel for our clients while keeping pace with the rapid changes inherent to the marketing industry. It also helps us to attract and retain the very best talent in the market.

Mission accomplished. We have some of the very best creative and digital people in the business.

Last year we started experimenting with “work from home” days on a very limited basis. I know that’s not necessarily a new concept and it’s certainly not one we invented. We wanted to give our team the flexibility to work from their living room, their favorite coffee shop, or the other side of the country but we also did not want to lose our ability to excel. Working from home definitely has its benefits, like avoiding that timely commute, or being able to change out the laundry while sending off emails. However, working remotely also takes a lot of self-discipline. Here is how we made it work for us and more importantly, our clients.

1. Get dressed. This may sound ridiculous, but I mean it. It’s important to try and keep your regular routine intact when doing the occasional work from home day. Pajamas are comfortable, getting dressed is a helpful reminder to yourself that it’s a work day, and you should actually be working.

2. Stick to your regular working hours. Just because you don’t have to go into an office doesn’t mean it’s ok to start working at 10AM. It also doesn’t mean it’s OK to go to the Dr’s office at 11AM, the gym at 2PM, and then a “quick” stop at the grocery store afterwards. It is still a work day.

3. Make your task list and stick to it. We create pre and post lists…what we expect of ourselves to get done and what we finished. Ideally your post list is always longer than your pre list, but we hold ourselves and each other accountable to these lists.

4. Utilize technology. We utilize an online chat program to stay in touch during the day. Our job tracking software keeps track of projects that are happening and has messaging capabilities when your coworker isn’t paying attention to their chat window. Important documents can be transitioned from Dropbox/Google Drive so you can log in from anywhere and have access to everything.

5. Avoid people distractions. They come in the form of friends stopping by, roommates hanging out next to you while you’re working, or your non-working significant other that thinks being home is a vacation day. It’s important to set boundaries and enforce them. Lunchtime is a great time for these types of distractions.

6. Stay off social media. We’re all guilty of it…you hop on Instagram real quick and next thing you know you’ve been scrolling for 10 minutes. Best tip is to turn off notifications during the day to help keep your focus. Take it a step further by logging out of every social media account … this makes it harder to log on. (Who can remember their password anyway?)

7. Don’t work in front of the TV. I admit this one is hard for me. I love the background noise, but it’s a complete productivity killer. “Work from home” days are not “days-off”, so you shouldn’t Netflix and couch it. Swap out the TV for some music. Listening to soft classical music while you work can help improve focus.
Here’s my favorite workday playlist on Spotify.

8. Make yourself a cool workspace. Find a place in your house where you can sit that’s both clear of clutter and doesn’t lend itself to distractions. If your company is good enough to embrace this type of work relationship perhaps it’s worthwhile to set up a place in your home that makes working from home more productive.

9. Make any type of client interaction seamless. There’s really no difference in taking a call or sending an email from your home workspace than from your office. Make sure the dog’s not barking and the baby’s not crying (the best you can) when you are interacting with a client on the phone.

10. Be prepared. Your office workspace may have specific advantages like multiple monitors that make certain tasks easier than when you are at home on your laptop. Try to manage your work to do the type of work that’s just as easy on your laptop as it is on your office desktop. Download the files you may need from your company’s access points and bring home any files that may be needed for discussions with your client.

Working from home can be a great way to enhance your company culture and the retention of gifted employees. It’s a nice perk and one that candidly I never even considered possible when I worked for FOX, CBS, and TOMA.

At ReThinc we thrive on the collaboration that takes place in our office when we are all together. An occasional work from home day (done properly) can also be an advantage that helps us to continue to deliver excellence to our clients while also appreciating our jobs, our co-workers, and our lives even more