Making the Switch from Cubicle to Home-Based Work

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By Angela Johnson

April 30 , 2020

Whether you have moved to remote working or are simply “working from home”, making the switch to home-based work can be an interesting experience.

During the current global pandemic situation, many people have moved from the cubicle where they could chat with their pal next door over the wall to their dining room table staring at a sink full of dirty dishes. As unfortunate and challenging as the circumstances are had the pandemic occurred twenty or even ten years ago, employees would not have had the luxury of fulfilling their job responsibilities in their pajamas, from the comfort of their homes. Technology just was not there yet.

Technology has also allowed many of us to work remotely or even start our own home-based business as a freelancer. Once looked down upon, moving from the cubicle to the home is becoming more normal and accepted.

Now, as great as it sounds to be sipping coffee in front of your computer while wearing your fuzzy slippers, your dog gently snoring nearby, making the switch may also come with some challenges of its own.

While you may have occasionally “worked” from home, this was usually a temporary situation; you had a sick child home from school and needed to still get some work done; you brought your laptop home to avoid the distractions and interruptions of the office environment. You could handle the cluttered space, chores threatening to distract you and the constant noise of the television for a day because it was simply that. . .  a day!

Working from home in any capacity now becomes your way of making a living and you need to view it from the same perspective as if you were to drag your behind out of bed, navigate the commute and sit in your cubicle all day! You want to be as successful working from home as you were at the office, why not set yourself up for success!

Tips for making the switch

  • Clothing matters. Although it may be appealing (and more comfortable) to simply roll out of bed and sit down at your computer, you should actually get dressed in clothing that you might wear to an office. That does not mean you have to wear a suit and tie all day, but it does mean that you should shuck the pajama bottoms and old t-shirt for something a bit more professional. Clinical Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner writes in her book You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You, shares that your clothing can impact how you think about yourself and therefore, your work habits and confidence.
  • Create a schedule. When you were running off to the office, you may have had to catch the train or get on the road at a very specific time to be “on-time” for your job. Just because you are working from home now, doesn’t mean that you should be any less diligent with your work schedule. Depending upon your responsibilities, you may no longer have to wake up at 5 am but sleeping until noon may not be the best option either. Create a daily schedule that works for you and your home situation that allows you to be productive and stick to it! Of course, distractions will happen to derail you but do your best to get back on track to working regular hours.
  • Create space. Although it may have been easy to work from the dining room table or even propped up on the couch when you occasionally worked from home, it is a different situation entirely when you are spending up to 8 hours per day (every day) working at home. Whether you live in an expansive house or a tiny apartment, try to create a space where you can comfortably work without distraction. Maybe this is in a spare bedroom or a corner of the kitchen, carve out an area that is dedicated to “work” and guard it carefully. Remember that you will be spending a significant amount of time in this space so make it comfortable and effective. You do not want to have to spend all day tripping over the laptop cords and fumbling for pens. Make your space as work-friendly as you can.
  • Free time. The downside to working at home for many people is the draw to always be working. This mindset is very typical for those who work from home. While your day begins and ends at a specific time in the office, it does not always “end” when you are at home. It can be tempting to work later in the day or to work a little on the weekend. However, this can lead to burnout. According to a study conducted by Digital Ocean, 52% of remote workers report that they work longer hours remotely than in the office. Be sure to allow yourself free time and maximize the work-life balance that remote working affords.

Making the switch for a cubicle to home-based work has its challenges and by implementing some minor rules and habits, you can successfully make the transition and enjoy all the benefits that working at home has to offer.

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