Working from home is not a trend, it is now considered a very cost effective and efficient way of doing business. A great number of companies today are hiring people specifically to work from their own homes. Some of these companies even financially supplement these home offices with office allowances, the paying of phone and high-speed Internet connections and office supplies.
If you find yourself in this seemingly enviable position here are some things you should think about to help keep yourself at the top of your game.
Dress for success even when working from home
Do not fall into the trap of going to work in your pajamas. While this may sound fun it is not. Your productivity will plunge, your attitude will suffer and your overall efficiency will be below acceptable levels.
How you dress effects the way you think. This may sound funny but it is totally true.
This is why Casual Day at the office may only be coming to work without a tie. In most cases Casual Day does not include shorts, a tee-shirt and no shoes. If you are working from home you should never consider yourself to be on permanent Casual Day.
When I conduct sales meetings I always stress that the participants should dress accordingly. In most cases I issue instructions with the meeting announcement that all attendees should dress Business Casual for my meetings. No ties, no blue jeans and no shorts. If someone wants to wear a suit, that is fine. I would rather see someone over dress than under dress.
For working from home, you should always get up, get showered, shaved and dressed appropriately for your day at work. Do not take shortcuts with your morning routine or your apparel for work. Keeping up appearances will make for a better attitude at work.
Keep your Office out of the Bedroom
It may sound like fun to have your desk in your bedroom but it will hurt you in the long run. If you are going to work from home find a different room to set up your desk. Having your desk in the bedroom will make for some very long days and nights.
The temptation to work after hours will always be there if your desk is in your bedroom. During the night, you might even hear the sound of an E-mail coming in and get up to check it out. (I speak from experience on this one.)
You also need the mental advantage of going to work. I like to tease my wife in front of other people when I joke that my wife makes me walk to work each morning. After a short chuckle and a weird look directed toward my wife I explain that I walk down the stairs and across the house to my home office.
I am able to walk into my home office and begin the day like I was walking into a corporate headquarters. I have a door to my office that I can close at the end of the day when it is time to go home. Having a door to my office gives me the physical border that I need to begin and end the day and help keep my work from invading my home life.
Take a Lunch Break
The tendency will be to cut yourself short with your lunch breaks. Do not do this. Take your breaks. Get out of your office. Go to the water cooler every once in a while.
I found that when I physically left the house for lunch that I was more productive in the afternoons. The break gave definition to the mid-day or halfway point of the work day. Getting out of the house also made it less restrictive to the space I found myself in.
Also, I was able to make friends with people so I could have the interaction that you will miss from working in solitude. Make some lunch appointments with friends, especially those in similar positions as you. Your productivity will flourish because of it.
Limit the Interruptions
Working from home provides temptations for others in the home to interrupt whenever they feel like. This kills productivity and should be limited whenever possible.
One of the best pieces of advice I give for this is to suggest that the person interrupting be asked what they would do if I were working from an office downtown:
- Would you ask me to help carry in the groceries if I were in an office downtown?
- Would you ask me to change a diaper if I were working in an office downtown?
- Would you ask me to watch the kids?
- Would you ask me to walk the dog?
Well, you get the idea. If they would not ask you to do whatever it is if you were working downtown then they should not ask you if you are working from home.
Another good visual explanation of how interruptions need to be limited is holding a pencil horizontal. Explain that this pencil represents the time it is going to take to complete the project you are working on. It is fixed, it is rigid and unable to be shortened. Now explain that the interruptions you get only shift the timeline further and further beyond quitting time. The project must be completed and the interruptions only delay the completion of the project.
The one exception I make for this hard and fast rule of limited interruptions is if you have children. You should allow for breaks from work to see them off for school and for when they come home from school. These should be happy times in your
family and your children need to see you on both of these occasions. Do whatever you can to make your children feel special during these times and you will not be interrupted so much by them at other times.
A Home Office can be more Productive
- You have a quiet atmosphere where you are surrounded by things you love.
- You do not have to listen to the office gossip or office politics.
- You should never be late for work and you are going to love the commute.
About the author:
Jerry D. Wilson has over 25 years of experience applying technology to solve business problems. Please visit some of Jerry's recent launches: