Many of us dream about working from home. It sounds fantastic, right? You're in your favorite sweatpants at your kitchen table, you didn't waste a minute on a lengthy commute. With some self-discipline, working from home really can be the dream you've imagined!
Here are six tips from a work from home employee:
1. Set and maintain “office” hours.
Working from home gives you some leeway, surely, but there are still only 24 hours in a day. Whether you work from home for another company or you are self-employed, others will appreciate knowing that they can count on you to be available at certain times of the day.
2. Designate a work space.
You might not have the space to have a home office, but you can certainly clear a space to call your “office.” Human beings are creatures of habit and if you are trying to work on that comfy sectional where you watch football and toss back nachos and beer, I promise it is going to be harder to stay focused.
3. Document your time.
Documentation keeps you accountable. It gives you a record of what you have already accomplished and can function to remind you of what you have left to do. It also gives you a great reference when speaking with a boss or a client. “I emailed you the document on Tuesday and revised it on again on Thursday.” Often when working from home, a casual demeanor is adopted and documentation will go a long way towards making it clear that while you might not be wearing a tie or pantyhose you are still on point.
4. Take breaks.
You wouldn't go into the office at 9 am and expect to not get up from your desk for 8 solid hours. So, don't do that at home. Designate a lunch hour and feel free to throw in a load of laundry or walk your dog after you eat a sandwich. Telecommuting gives you ample opportunity to take care of your home during working hours, but be careful to set parameters. Take advantage of being at home, but be careful not to let your work day get eaten up with home chores.
5. Get out of the house!
What? You thought you were working from home? Sometimes the pressure of being at home is too much. Maybe you need outside stimuli or you can't possibly crank out 87 more pivot tables when folding laundry sounds more fun. Get out! Grab your laptop and go. Just make sure that you take a look in the mirror before you walk out the door. Working from home can get a little scary and nobody wants to see you in those old sweatpants.
6. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, set yourself up to work remotely, not “from home.”
Telecommuting should be giving you the flexibility to work from anywhere, not only from your home office. Telecommuting means freedom. Take an honest look at your resources. Are you storing your work files in the cloud or on an old laptop? Do you have a streamlined process for backing up important data? Is your data safe? Do you have adequate bandwidth to have a conference call and view an online meeting slideshow at the same time? Examine your home office with the same scrutiny you would your office at “work.” Everyone loves to say they would be more productive if “the boss” provided sufficient resources. You are the manager of your home office. Make sure that you give yourself the resources you need to do the best job you can.
Kelly Doherty telecommutes to TMI in Arlington, VA from her home office in North Carolina. Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about telecommuting or more advice for working from home.