Twenty years ago, if someone had mentioned working from home to their bosses, they would probably have received an earful about their job prospects with ‘at attitude like that.’ But the way technology has changed the dynamics of work is evident from an ever-growing number of mobile offices and staff; and perhaps economic recession and increasing costs are contributing factors.
Nowadays, working from home is not only just an option, but a preferred one for many employees and employers. For employers it means renting less office space and for employees it means more time closer to the family and cutting down on travelling time and costs. However, whether you work from home temporarily or full time, as a freelancer or a regular employee; it still takes time to get used to working in the environment of your home. Below are some tips that are recommended by those who already make a living working from home:
Schedule your hours
Even though people think that working from home provides for flexibility (and it does), you will still need to schedule your working hours. It will help you stay committed to your work. Though you can still pick when you want to work and for how many hours, as long as you keep it regular. Just remember that working from home can wreck havoc on your health if you work at irregular hours.
Set some ground rules for your family and friends
Working from home doesn't mean that you are available all the time and your family and friends need to realise this. Set some rules so you won't be disturbed while working, unless it's an emergency. If you are working at home with kids, you might want to consider hiring a nanny or a baby-sitter, just like when you worked from office.
Have a proper workplace
Having a distinct office space or work space for working helps in maintaining a distinction between home and work life. You might also want to consider having a different work phone number, if you want to separate your work and private life even further.
Maintain healthy communication links with your office or clients
Sometimes when you are working from home, you may be the last person in office to know about any change. You need to maintain regular and effective communication links with anyone who is responsible for communicating work matters to you. Also, let them know clearly that they would need to inform you of these changes in advance so you can adjust your work schedule if need be, to work around them.
Take lunch breaks
Yes, this needs to be mentioned because sometimes when you are working from home, you tend to delay your lunch or breaks. Schedule your lunch breaks and if you have to, use a timer or software such as Time Out (Mac) or Smart Break (PC). Also, try to step out of your work area, have a bite and go for a walk outside in fresh air.
Cut down on procrastination
Working from home also means no one watching over your shoulder – Result? If you are not careful about it, you could go on procrastinating for hours! Maintain a list of work that you need to complete everyday and follow it.
The human touch is important
It's not only people who need to take care of their families that work from home. There are many of us who stay alone and away from their families. As such, working from home means you are cutting down on time that you would normally have to socialise with others in office. Thus, you should regularly set up meetings to have the necessary face time. Also every now and then, you should take your work out of your home and to a library or a coffee shop to be around people.
Have a day off
When I first started working from home, I would work 7 days a week and I soon realised that this was not healthy. You are the one in charge of yourself, so you need to give yourself proper time away. Take regular days off every week and also when you're sick, rest!
Attend seminars and courses
Working from home also means you are deprived of learning opportunities. You should seek out new opportunities and keep yourself abreast with the latest trends in the industry. A good way to do this is by attending seminars and training programmes. You also get a chance to network with others for potential business.
Don't drag your work to after hours
It's very important to end your work day and leave the office space. When you are working in an office you go home at the end of the day, but when you are working at home you need to shut down all the work and get back to the home life.
Most of the people who work from home face difficulties in adjusting their work-home balance. This is another reason why working from home is not for everyone. Those of us who want to work effectively from home, should have a sound mind and greater self control, otherwise working alone at home could easily lead to depression.