working from home
Set yourself up for success on a WFH day by getting ready in the morning as per usual. (Getty Images)

The prospect of working from home away from the disciplined environment of an office might sound like a procrastinator’s worst nightmare — but it doesn’t have to be.

Whether it be an illness, childcare obligation, home repair scheduling or due to straight-up ease and convenience, there are a myriad number of reasons why a person might have to work from home. For some, the scenario is a dream full of peace, quiet and productivity. Others, however, view the change in location as an insurmountable hill of distractions.

Either way, the work-from-home trend is picking up speed and proving more popular year by year; forcing both employers and those they employ to consider the alternative to a traditional work setting.

Recently released data from the U.S. Census revealed that more than 5% of workers — or 8 million people — performed their duties from home in 2017. That’s up from just about 3% in 2000. The uptick has been made possible by greater access toa  better-performing internet coupled with a demand from employees for greater flexibility in their work, according to Quartz.

The perk has few drawbacks, too, even for dubious managers who may envision nonstop daytime TV binging superseding actual work. A 2017 report by Gallup found that work-from-home options help companies hold on to their employees; while some evidence (like this study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business) suggests working from the comfort of your home may also improve productivity.

Regardless of whether this is your first foray into the work-from-home world or if you’re just trying to do it well, we’ve got a few expert-recommended tips to make it work.

Don’t Sleep On It

Working from home might inspire dreams of sleeping in, typing out emails from bed and never running a brush through your hair (or teeth, eew). But, for productivity’s sake, please get up.

“Even though working from home allows you the flexibility to sleep in and work in your pajamas, I don’t recommend it,” Holly Reisem Hanna, the force behind the widely popular career site, The Work at Home Woman, advised RealClearLife. “Having a routine where you wake up at the same time each day and get showered and dressed puts you into the mindset of work and professionalism. As the saying goes, when you look good, you feel good.”

Set Yourself Up For Success

Just like the desk you took over at the office, you need a space at home that’s dedicated to working and totally yours. Keep everything here that you need to get into work mode.

“First, you need to create a workspace that’s free of clutter, whether it’s your kitchen countertop, a dining room table, or a small nook in a closet or under the stairs,” Reisem Hanna told RCL.

Just like your place of employment, this spot in your home has all your work equipment within arm’s reach and elicits productivity.

“Be sure that you have all the tools you need, like pens, paper, laptop charger, day planner, glasses, smartphone, (etc.) within reach otherwise, you’ll constantly be getting up to fetch what you need,” she added.  “That’s a huge time-waster.”

Block Out Distractions

Even without a dedicated space in your home like an office with a door, it’s possible — and important — to create a sense of privacy.

“I suggest investing in some noise-canceling headphones or a service like Headspace which can help you improve your focus through guided meditation,” our expert said. “If social media or email is your downfall, try out an app like SelfControl which blocks access to these platforms for a predetermined amount of time.”

One would assume that having headphones on should indicate to anyone else in your home that you’re purposefully trying to block them out. They’ll likely get the hint that you’re working and can’t be disturbed but if you’re sensing an annoying pattern of disruption, try setting up hard work and break hours throughout the day.

Reap The Benefits

While doing your job from home of course means that your work is following you there, what doesn’t come with this setup is your chatterbox coworker, the freezing air conditioner and lumpy swivel chair.

“When you work from home, you can create your ideal workspace (without) fluorescent lights and windowless cubes, which allows you to work in an environment that nurtures your productivity style,” Reisem Hanna said. “So, if a treadmill desk or bike desk is your cup to tea — you can use it without having to worry about disturbing your coworkers.

“You cut out the commute to the office, which reduces stress,” she continued, “and when you’re happy as an employee it shows through in high-quality work and a job well done.”