These days, a growing number of employers are embracing the notion of flexibility and allowing workers to do their jobs from home. And many workers, in turn, are happier for it.
There are numerous benefits to getting to work from home. First, there's the perk of not having to pay to commute, and not having to spend time in traffic or stand on a crowded train. Working from home can also make it easier to tackle the many household responsibilities you face on a weekly basis. You can throw in loads of laundry in between conference calls, take a quick break in the late afternoon to get dinner started, and be there to accept deliveries and let in repair people as needed.
But working from home has its downsides, too. Many people who work from home find themselves not only craving company, but feeling disconnected from their colleagues. And in some cases, remote work can offer fewer career opportunities. After all, a manager might be more apt to assign key projects to on-site employees simply because they're there.
If you're less than thrilled with your work-from-home arrangement, there are a few things you can do to turn things around. Here's where to start.
1. Explore different options for staying in touch
One of the hardest parts of working from home is not having the human interaction many of us crave. Working remotely also means that you're not there to take part in team discussions, meetings, and celebrations. The solution? Get creative so that you're more a part of things. Ask to be video-conferenced in the next time your team is gathering, or start a team channel on whatever internal chat platform your employer uses. And if it's feasible to head into the office every so often, show your face once a month. It'll do a lot in helping you maintain relationships.
If you're craving company in general, you might look into renting a coworking space, where you and other remote employees can do your jobs together. Granted, setting up shop at a local coffeehouse might achieve a similar result, but with a defined workspace, you're more likely to have an easier time concentrating -- and you'll at least be guaranteed a seat.
2. Establish work versus non-working hours
It's easy to turn a work-from-home arrangement into a work-all-the-time situation. After all, when your desk and equipment are so easily accessible, it can be difficult to unplug. A good bet, therefore, is to set up a schedule that defines when you're supposed to be working and when you aren't. Of course, you'll still need to be prepared to log on after-hours when emergencies arise, but if you set boundaries, you'll achieve a better balance.
3. Consider a partial work-from-home arrangement
Some people work from home because they live too far away from their offices to commute regularly. But if your work-from-home arrangement was established more so for your own convenience than a logistical need, then you might consider doing it only part-time, and going into the office the rest of the week. Doing so might eat up more of your waking hours and cost you more money -- but if it makes you happier, it's a worthwhile investment.
Working from home can be a wonderful thing -- until it isn't. If you're struggling with your work-from-home arrangement, don't just resign yourself to being unhappy. Rather, take steps to change things up, even if it means forgoing that arrangement altogether. At the end of the day, you're better off giving up a little flexibility than being truly miserable.