Remote work can be very appealing. Working from home offers greater flexibility, nonexistent commute times, and a host of other benefits — especially for a mom.
Whether you’re re-entering the workforce by working remotely or looking to switch to remote work, consider these six factors beforehand to make the transition as smooth as possible.
How to Make Remote Work Work for You
#1: Clear Boundaries are Imperative
Moms juggle many different roles: caretaker, teacher, cook, chauffeur, the list goes on. Adding “remote worker” to that list could potentially be overwhelming, so time management with proper boundaries is essential to successfully working from home, especially as a mom.
If you’re working while kids are home, you’ll need to let them know that you’re still available if they need something urgently, but also that you need to set boundaries during work hours. If you have very young kids, you might even need to hire a sitter or nanny to keep an eye on the kids for part of the day.
Overwhelming yourself by trying to get everything done at once is also a risk. You should be prepared to take appropriate breaks and reward yourself in little ways throughout the day. You can manage your time by creating to-do lists, making a schedule, and planning ahead. Assess any distractions you might have (social media, TV, etc.) and limit them; this will allow you to focus on the task at hand. Find what works best for you (and for your family) so that you can tackle the most important tasks each day and feel balanced.
#2: Technology Makes or Breaks Efficiency
Whether you plan to use a company-provided or personal computer, you’ll have to make sure your device is dependable. Since you won’t have on-site IT support, you may need to learn more about caring for your computer, installing updates and antivirus software, setting up a virtual private network (VPN), and resolving minor technical issues.
You should also guarantee your internet connectivity is sufficient for the work you will be doing at home, especially if kids will be using the connection at the same time. Test your internet speed regularly to ensure you’re getting the bandwidth you pay for. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure you’re not using more data than is outlined by your service provider, as this could cost you more money than you planned to spend.
#3: You’ll Work Better in a Designated Work Space
While it’s convenient to work from the couch or dining table, having a designated work space will allow you to be more productive. Too much blending between your home and work life can actually feel overwhelming, making it hard to work efficiently. For example, working in the kitchen can remind you of the dishes that need to be done. Likewise, kids will more likely want your attention if they see you close by.
This doesn’t mean you need a home office or that you can never work from the couch. However, you should be ready with a separate space where you can take a phone call or just quietly concentrate on your work.
#4: You Need to Put Yourself First Sometimes
When working from home, it’s easy to get caught up in work and household chores. Simple things like getting out of the house for a lunch break or changing out of pajamas can make a big difference in how you feel.
While it may seem counterintuitive, taking the time to care for yourself can actually help you avoid burnout, decrease stress, and enhance focus. While we’re sometimes hesitant to take time for ourselves, doing so can actually help us be more of the employee we want to be.
#5: You May Have to Take Control of Your Own Career Development
Some employers with built-out remote work programs may already have a plan to help remote workers develop in their roles, but not all. If you’ll be working for a company without that infrastructure, it’ll be up to you to build your own skills to grow in the corporate sphere.
That growth is especially important if you’d like to explore new roles. Many fields are well-suited to remote setups, and an increasing number of companies offer remote work options, so brushing up on your professional skill set can expand the remote work options you have to choose from.
#6: A Support Group Can Be Hugely Helpful
If you take the plunge into remote work, be prepared to surround yourself with people who inspire you, cheer you on, and support you in your roles. Have conversations with your family about you working remotely to help them understand what that experience will (or at least should) be like for you and for them. Maybe working remotely will mean that dad picks up a child from soccer practice or that the kids take on more responsibilities around the house. Either way, you can ease your family into the transition of remote work and make sure they are prepared for any changes in routine.
Working remotely can sometimes feel isolating, so stay in contact with friends either in person or on social media. Take time to meet up with some fellow working moms or grab lunch with your partner. Doing these things will not only help you feel personally supported, but they’ll also help you feel more energized and recharged.
It’s easy for moms to feel like they need to do it all. And if you’re starting a work-from-home situation, the pressures of both work and personal life can feel very present. But by following these tips, you can make the transition and experience of working remotely smoother for you, your employer, and your family.