How to stay happy while working from home

Video Conference. Smiling african woman having web call on laptop at home, talking at camera while sitting on sofa in living room, flexible working

During the last 18 months, some of us have started working from home, possibly for the first time. And whether you’ve discovered that you love it, or that it’s not a great long-term practical but impactful tips to make working from home a little bit happier.

After fifteen years in a traditional office, I’ve been a remote worker for the last seven – first as the COO of an investment firm and now as a Happiness & Leadership Coach. The transition to working from home was a big one for me.

When thinking about the biggest differences between working from home and working in an office setting two things jump out. First, when you work from home you miss out on the more causal opportunities to connect with people in the outside world.  Second, working outside the home creates natural boundaries around work that don’t exist when we work from home. When you work from home there’s no commute, there is no clear stop and start, there’s not even necessarily workday and weekends. To work more happily from home you need to create boundaries: space boundaries (where you work); time boundaries (when you work); or even routine boundaries (how you work).

The first thing you can do, especially if you are really missing the adult human interaction that comes with working in an office, is:

Find ways to connect

When you work from home you lose the casual connection that naturally happens in the workspace: the office swing-by, the water cooler chat, etc… But connection matters. To be happier working from home, make a professional connection plan.  Your social life might not be enough to feed your need for professional connection. Find ways to create co-worker connection in your day. It might be an in-person meet-up or a virtual check-in. It doesn’t have to take long – it can be as short as a five-minute check-in. The key is doing it regularly.

If you don’t have co-workers don’t panic. Just find some people in your network who can serve as co-workers for you. And by co-workers, I mean people who you could connect with, learn from, appreciate on a professional level.

Next, consider your boundaries. If you are already working from home (or considering it) ask yourself? What are the edges of your work container, what boundaries do you have in place today? If the answer is not many don’t worry – here are a few ideas of boundaries you can put in place quickly and easily.

Work only in work space

You don’t have to have an abundance of space to make this happen. I know someone who works at one end of the table and does fun stuff at the other end. The key is to designate a workspace in your home and, as much as possible, try to only work in that space. I do this. Practically speaking this means, if I’m going to do more than glance at work email, I go to my office. If it isn’t worth moving my body to a new location for, it probably really isn’t that urgent and can wait until I’m back at work to be handled.

Create time boundaries around work

One of the most consistent complaints I hear from people who work at home (though not only those people) is that work never ends. Understand that is something that you control, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Rather than trying to work and live your life outside of work at the same time, make a conscious effort to only be doing one of those things at a time. If you need to work, work. If you are done with work, really set it down. This could look like strict start and stop times, but it could also look like just being crystal clear about what you are doing when you’re doing it.

Create routines to mark transitions

This can be another big one, in working from home I lost many of the transitions that marked my day: the commute to and from, the coffee run, the lunch outing. Not having these built-in breaks can make the day feel longer than it really is. You can incorporate routine to break up your day even if you are working at home. Have a morning ritual, try an end of day shutdown process, and by all means make sure you have regular reasons to get up and out of your seat through- out the day. 

As with most things, happier working from home doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply considering your work container (time, space and routines) and finding ways remain connected can help you get started

About the author

Becky MorrisonBecky Morrison – a lawyer turned happiness coach turned author – who’s here to show you that you can be a successful woman whilst meeting your happiest self. Becky is on a mission to help other unhappy high achievers untangle their lives and discover what ingredients make a recipe for their happiness! 

Think Brené Brown meets Miranda Hobbes, with her first book The Happiness Recipe, Becky Morrison is expected to change the status quo when it comes to what we think we ‘should’ be and do, to be happy in today’s modern world.

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