Working from home is now a widespread practice in Australia. ABS surveys conducted in 2022 and 2023 revealed that nearly half (46%) of Australian employees now work from home in some capacity.
But a work-from-home job is not without downsides. Proponents of WFH rarely mention loneliness (especially for extroverts) and the struggle to set boundaries while ignoring distractions.
A lot of WFH employees feel that they’re at work 24/7 with no escape – to the point where they resent their lovely homes.
(Related Article: 7 Stylish Home Office Ideas).
1. Eliminate Distractions.
You still keep getting sucked into mind-numbing viral content and doomscrolling, don’t you?
Social media platforms are the devil. If you don’t have the willpower to resist, consider these limiters:
- Lock certain apps in Android using a third-party app like “AppBlock – Stay Focused”.
- Set daily time limits on your iPhone in the settings.
- Use a time lock box to physically lock away your phone for a predetermined amount of hours, preventing you from reaching for it every time you get a WhatsApp message or email.
Aside from tech, what else is making you procrastinate? Remember that one distraction often leads to another.
For example, you convince yourself that you need another coffee boost.
(Related: 7 Career Ideas For WFH Australians).
Next, you decide to go for a quick toilet break. While you’re there, you might as well give the mirror a quick wipe.
You hear a noise from outside, so you open the window – and, ooh, a butterfly!
Resist the slippery slope of distractions by catching them early.
2. Set Boundaries With Family Members.
“Can you just take the dog for a walk… change the baby… mow the lawn… return this parcel… do the dishes… vacuum clean the living room?”
If you live with someone who doesn’t work from home, they might expect you to muck in with the household chores while you’re working from home.
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re available to start tackling mountains of laundry – for the same reason you wouldn’t sit and binge-watch Breaking Bad.
Work is work.
Okay, life sometimes gets in the way, and we need to take advantage of working flexible hours, but any deviation from your daily routine should be an exception rather than the rule.
Some reasonable exceptions are:
- Medical appointments.
- Childcare obligations.
- Family emergencies.
- Personal illness.
- Commute issues.
If you have young children, consider locking your office from the inside of your home office. They have a habit of interrupting online meetings. Barricade yourself in as though you’re preparing for the apocalypse.
3. Create A Separate Office Space.
Above: working from your kitchen table for extended periods of time is not a great idea.
You must separate your work and personal lives. If you have the luxury of a spare room, convert it into your home office.
As a last resort, set up your office for the day on the dining table, but be sure to remove all work-related gear as soon as you finish work.
4. Buy A Top-Notch Standing Desk & Office Chair.
Your productivity and posture will suffer if you keep using a kitchen stool, sofa, bed, or even a beaten-up old office chair that belonged to your Aunt Susan before she retired.
While expensive, some of the best office chairs will save you money in the long run because you won’t need to replace them every 2-3 years.
As for the best standing desks, I love those in the UpDown and Desky ranges.
At one time, I contemplated buying a cheap standing desk from Ikea until I tested it and realised why the Ikea standing desk wasn’t worth it.
If your budget permits, go for an electric standing desk with a max load capacity greater than 130kg (aim for 150kg).
5. Get The Government To Pay For Your Standing Desk.
If you have an ABN, work from home and live in New South Wales, you may be eligible for a $1,000 government rebate on your standing desk.
You’ll find the full eligibility criteria here.
6. Improve Your Home Office Lighting.
Just because you can get away with your WFH “set” looking daggy – complete with children’s toys, your dog, and your kettle in the background – doesn’t mean you should.
What’s the #1 secret to looking good on camera? Lighting.
(Related: Tips For Better Home Office Lighting).
Don’t use overhead lighting – unless you want to look like a prisoner.
The easiest thing to do is to place your desk against the window, so you face towards the light.
Consider investing in a simple and relatively inexpensive artificial lighting solution like this one from LumeCube.
7. Get Lunches Delivered.
You’ve worked for a few hours. Time to make lunch, right?
If you’re not careful, you’ll spend half of your workday mucking about the kitchen. Time hemorrhages twice as quickly when working from your own home, and food prep is one of the biggest timesucks.
Don’t get me wrong.
But lunches – and possibly breakfasts – can be treated as functional meals that you outsource.
You’re spoilt for choice if you live in Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne. Companies like HelloFresh, Marley Spoon, and many other alternatives can deliver tasty, nutritious meals to your door for as low as $8 per meal.
8. Prepare Meals The Night Before.
If you have a bit more time in the evenings, batch-cook some meals for the week.
Not all recipes are great for batch cooking (avoid reheating seafood!), but here are some dishes that are work very well:
- Mushroom risotto in white wine sauce and a sprinkling of parmesan.
- Chilli con carne served with rice, guacamole, and sour cream.
- Sri Lankan chicken curry with pol roti.
- Pasta amatriciana with cured pork and tangy Pecorino Romano.
- Beef stir-fry with lo mein noodles.
Just make sure to stock up on Tupperware – and one particular type. My kitchen cupboards are full of Tupperware lids without their respective containers!
(Related: Funkiest Coffee Machines For Your Home Office).
9. Use A VPN.
You should consider paying for a VPN, such as Express VPN. There are several reasons why, some too technical for this guide, so I’ll boil it down to the two main ones.
- You can bypass geographical restrictions by connecting to servers across the world. I find this helpful when researching local markets because search engine results, shopping results (and prices), and other web pages are localised.
- The VPN encrypts the data, making it significantly harder for malicious actors to intercept login credentials, financial data, or company files.
Not having a VPN exposes all your privacy and digital assets and can be likened to leaving your front door unlocked.
It’s not worth the risk.
10. Learn To Communicate Across Time Zones.
Are your teammates outside of Australia? You’ll need to learn protocols that help you prevent conflict:
- Ensure you overcommunicate deadlines (i.e., a deadline of “4 pm on Thursday” means very different things in Sydney and Lisbon).
- Find optimal meeting times. Arrange meetings at reasonable hours to encourage maximum attendance and participation.
Why People Struggle Working From Home.
City offices – as dreary as they can be – are not without value. They provide structure. A clear divide between work and home lives. Opportunity to mingle.
Room to vent, moan and – dare I say – flirt.
Zooming with your fellow inmate… I mean, colleagues – for 40-50 hours per week from solitary confinement in your spare bedroom doesn’t help you realise many of those.
You need to:
- Create and follow a routine (i.e., wake up and be at your desk at the same time each day).
- Set and enforce firm boundaries with family members (i.e., politely but firmly decline bids for attention from children and spouse).
- Build a dedicated workspace (i.e., ensure you don’t eat, work and play from the same space).
Final Thoughts On How To Work From Home.
Working from home is the new normal for many of us. If you’re finding it a frustrating, unhealthy, and unproductive experience, change your environment and habits.
Perhaps it’s time to consider getting a job more conducive to WFH. There are tonnes of work-from-home opportunities out there that will help you break the 9-5 mould.
I hope the above guidelines, ideas, and tips have helped improve your work-from-home environment.
If you have any hacks, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll get those added!