These past few years have forced us all to try new things, including the decision to work from home. If you’re a professional over 50 who has been accustomed to working outside the home, you might be wondering how to better manage a seamless transition from commercial office space to the home office.
Here’s a brief guide containing seven vital tips that can help you achieve profound success while working remotely.
1. Decide Upon Agreements with Spouse, Kids, or Roommates
Other people are distracting, especially if they’re not working and you are.
Even in a home office environment, professionalism is still of utmost importance.
Once, I was on an important Zoom meeting with an employee when his wife decided she had to use the kitchen blender. Needless to say, we had to stop our meeting until she was done with the blender. It was an awkward moment, to say the least.
Even a cat walking across the keyboard, or the sound of a television on in the background, can be disruptive.
It’s important to figure out beforehand with the other people in your home how you can work most effectively, without visual or auditory distractions:
- Preferably you will have a room with a door you can close.
- If a room with a door isn’t possible, then you’re going to have to be even more disciplined and steadfast about sticking to whatever agreements you reach.
I have a friend who works from home and has a small dry-erase whiteboard attached to the front of his office door. On the whiteboard, he writes the time of his next break. This lets his spouse and children know when he’ll next make an appearance outside his office. He reports that, since he instituted this method, interruptions from his family went from frequent to almost none. It also has improved the quality and light-heartedness of his breaks as everyone feels more secure knowing what to expect and that there will be availability throughout the day for connection.
Since everyone’s home office area – and job – is different, each household will have to arrive at their own creative solutions and agreements. However, this must be done. “Winging it” simply doesn’t work in the long term.
2. Set Firm Boundaries between Work, Rest, and Play
Firstly, if you happen to be a freelancer, you may be working on your own schedule. This can be both wonderful and terrible. You don’t have to worry about arriving at an office at a set time every day, but without the structure that comes with having coworkers around, it can be difficult to keep track of when you should stop working and take a break.
Setting work boundaries may help you stay productive throughout the day. It’s important to know when you need to take breaks so that you don’t end up overworking yourself or burning out quickly.
If your mind starts getting foggy from sitting still too long at your desk, stand up and walk around for a few minutes.
Each person has a slightly different brain-style:
- Some people thrive on as much structure as possible. For them, a strict schedule – ironically – feels like freedom, because they know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Other people are more in-the-moment. These are the highly creative types who do better with less restriction and scheduling. However, notice I didn’t “without any” restriction, I simply said “less.” Even artists need professionalism and goal-setting.
3. Appreciate that a Work From Home Location Requires a New Mindset
Working from home requires a significant shift in mindset. You have to be prepared to work harder, not less.
The reason you’re working harder is that you have more autonomy.
No one is going to regularly motivate you to set and reach targets throughout the day. You have to, ultimately, do that on your own.
There’s no one there to witness your brilliance. No people with whom to exchange energy. No team to pump each other up.
This means that you must be highly conscious and deliberate when it comes to achieving your goals.
4. Prioritize Your Tasks, then Focus on One
Most professionals over 50 have already learned – through years of experience – that they must prioritize their tasks each day, then focus on them one at a time. But this skill becomes even more important in a work from home environment, where the potential distractions are almost limitless.
“Focus on the task at hand” is a deceptively simple statement, but its effects are potent and genuine.
When was the last time you played a sport, and half your attention was “how I’m going to give this marketing report to my client?” Well, it probably wasn’t, since you were too interested in figuring out (for instance) how to hit the next pitch for a home run.
Your mind was in place – synced in focus, doing what it was supposed to do at that point in time. If it had no such aim, or if it was distracted by thoughts other than baseball, you would probably not play well. And, the whole experience would be less fulfilling.
5. Know that a Subpar Work From Home Environment Creates Procrastination
Poor experiences – which may come as a result of being overwhelmed with other tasks in mind – can also cause procrastination or lack of will to endeavor in that task again.
Designate an area of your home that is specifically for your job. Be serious about it. Get your work from home environment as efficient and supportive as you can make it. Keep the area organized. Make sure you have the right tools handy.
The area should be lit well with plenty of power socket outlets. Even if you have a standing desk, you will still probably need a good chair with back support for those occasional sit-downs.
You can also visit a nearby library. Libraries are quiet, peaceful, provide work privacy, and have other people working which can reinforce motivation.
Stay hydrated and take walking or stretch breaks when you can.
TIP: for many people, it’s easier to overeat in a work from home situation than it is to overeat at the office. So stay healthy and keep an eye on calories. Resist the temptation to snack throughout the day.
6. Nobody Is Perfect So Expect the Occasional Hiccup
There will be times when it doesn’t work. That’s when you’ll want to fine-tune your systems and implement new solutions to meet the unique needs of your job and work from home area.
In your quest to excel at your work from home job, you may run into some failures. No need to let this get you down. The occasional mistake is a part of the process and can be a learning opportunity that leads to success in the future.
7. Understand the Work From Home Differences Between Gen Z, Millenials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers
One might naturally think that Gen Zers – a generation largely associated with technology – would be more inclined to work from home. And, yes, according to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, Gen Zers were 17% more likely to apply for remote jobs.
However, while there is an increased likelihood of the generation to apply for remote Jobs, there also have been mixed views in terms of managing work-life balance.
According to a HubbleHQ report, 40.7% of respondents listed the work-life balance issue as one of their three worst things about working from home (the same problem was perceived by 35% of Millenials, and only 27% of baby boomers and Gen Xers).
In another study, mentioned by HRexchange, 61% of Gen Z workers said it was difficult to make new friends working online, and 39% of the same respondents said it was difficult to find professional mentors in their fields.
Interestingly, baby boomers may have adjusted fairly well to the remote working concept. According to a Flexjob remote workers survey, over 40% of the respondents were over the age of 50. 70% said that one of the reasons to continue working online was to afford basic necessities. No surprise there. However, 59% responded that they work online because they simply enjoyed working.
The advent of work from home allows baby boomers to continue working even after they retire. An estimated 37%, in a 2019 survey, said they had worked remotely for at least five years.
If you’d like to drill down more deeply into ways to have greater success in a work from home situation, these 3 articles each may prove very useful:
- How to Improve Personal Productivity
- How to Spend Your Time and Energy Wisely
- How to Create Your Own Customized Checklists
Additional Resources for Over 50s Who Work From Home:
How Gen Z Feels about Work From Home – https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/employee-engagement/articles/how-gen-z-feels-about-remote-work-will-surprise-you
Best Work-from-Anywhere Jobs for Older Workers – https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/best-work-from-anywhere-jobs-for-older-workers/
Work from Home Statistics: How Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers Telework – https://www.virtualvocations.com/blog/telecommuting-news/generational-remote-work-statistics-survey/