By Anna Johansson
With the glaring exception of Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, most companies are becoming extremely friendly toward telecommuting. Many firms are even hiring employees who will never come to the office and will always complete their projects from home.
One vocal proponent of this progressive approach to the workplace is Sir Richard Branson, a self-proclaimed home-preneur who has never been to the office, and never will he go to one. This fact should strike fear into the heart of many young students, just starting their careers.
Going It Alone at a Young Age
Though a slight sting, the Washington Post piece “Our Unprepared Graduate” does a great job of explaining the inadequate skills of recent graduates in the United States. A common complaint among employers – 63% of companies surveyed agree with this – is that even the most talented young workers with Ivy League educations tend to be substandard employees.
And this opinion is clearly reflected by the numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – at this moment in time, and despite recent job growth, young people (aged 16-29) have the highest rate of unemployment since WWII.
In light of this troubling information, the increasing likelihood that young people will be hired for a job contingent on remote productivity is a sobering one. With confidence levels low after a long job search, few graduates would handle being fired well, but few are preparing to tackle the challenge.
To prepare for this potential problem, it is pertinent that young workers ever begin developing a few habits and prepare to practice self-discipline:
1. Pick a start time and stick to it.
A schedule is imperative for anyone who wants to work at home effectively and ensure healthy level of productivity. A effective schedule is one that is feasible, consistent, and allows for downtime. It is also important that your schedule include time for meals.
Start out by getting yourself an alarm clock and picking a reasonable hour to wake yourself up at. Shoot to be up 30-45 minutes before you begin work as this will ensure you have time to take care of a few things around the house and get something to eat.
It is obviously more of a temptation to sleep in when you don’t have to clock in. If you’re someone who has a tendency to do that, give yourself an errand to do in the morning. Something like going to the gym would be perfect.
2. Pack your lunches the night before.
Distractions can significantly lower the amount of work that a person gets done during the day, and one of the major distractions can be going out for lunch. Or, even worse, getting sucked into your own kitchen. A place known for hooking your attention, and holding on to it for hours.
Though it seems a little counter-intuitive, it is a great habit to be in. By packing lunches the night before, you are less tempted to go out, less to likely to waste time making something extravagant, and won’t have a mess to clean up later.
One last come up: this habit also prevents mindless snacking.
3. Schedule Time Out Of The House.
This habit boils down to one main idea: GO. SEE. PEOPLE.
When you at home, they should schedule free time and time to relax. For most, that means relaxing at home. However, for those who work from home, relaxing at home means something totally different. It is far more likely you are going to work, or at least feel the need to; and if you work and relax from home, you are not going to leave the house.
Getting out of the house is a good idea. Taking breaks while getting work done can be a vital for productivity and help ensure that you get a significant amount of work done everyday. Additionally, having actual conversations, not over Gchat, will help shake up your routine and get new ideas flowing.
4. Make a daily list of goals.
When a person works at home, they should make a list of goals to achieve everyday. By making a list of goals, a person can ensure that they get everything done, and in addition, they will ensure that they don’t forget anything.
Important: managing yourself means that someone else isn’t telling you what to do. It is important to always assess your job and make sure you’re hitting all of your bases. Review your list of goals, on a micro (daily) and macro (overall job objectives) on a daily basis.
As working from home is becoming far more common, many companies (many of whom are home-preneurs themselves) have developed apps that can help with setting and assessing goals.
5. Have a clearly defined time off.
Having a clearly defined time off is vital in order to ensure that a person’s work doesn’t mesh too much with their personal life. A person should set aside certain time each day during which no work gets done, and during this time, the person can focus on other things completely.
This objective echos the idea that breaks enhance productivity. If you’re always sort of half working, you will be less disciplined and ready to produce when you need to devote your full attention to your job.
Working from home is something that many will do in their lifetime. It will be difficult at times; however, in an age increasingly structured around remote access and the convenience provided by the Internet, it is something we all must be prepared for.
Anna Johansson is a recent graduate of UW, and looking to potentially go abroad Since graduation, she has been a freelance writer, researcher, and solopreneur in the Olympia area. When she isn’t going to the ends of the Internet and back and weather allows, she is either on her bike or fixing it. Follow her @Number1AnnaJo