More and more offices are becoming virtual. Companies are allowing employees to job share. Some are eliminating physical space all together. Others are choosing to “go green” and save the many resources office buildings consume.
This sounds great to the millions of folks who dream about working from home so they can add more family time to their lives, avoid the expense and hassle of commuting, and eliminate the drudgery of cookie-cutter cubicles. But how can you be productive from a home office, and also meet the demands of your job?
The average office worker is interrupted every three minutes. Working from home can eliminate these interruptions if you can set yourself up in a dedicated workspace. This, and other smart measures, can help make working from home the best option for you.
Your Physical Space
- Set up an office space that’s dedicated to your job. Take a trip to the office supply store and make sure you have storage and all the other amenities you’ll need to be productive.
- Everyone works differently, that’s the beauty of a work-from-home setup. If it makes you more productive, move around. Working in your PJs from your back porch may be the best place for you. For someone else, it may be a formal office and putting a suit on every morning.
- Eliminate distractions. If you know ringing doorbells, a loud street, or barking dog will interrupt you, find ways to avoid them.
- Make sure that your phone works wherever you are in the house. If your cell reception is spotty, have a landline as backup.
- Ensure that your Internet, fax, and voicemail are always working properly. This may mean the need for redundancy.
- Use an Instant Message program (like iChat, Skype, or Google Chat) to stay in contact with coworkers and clients.
- Take advantage of web-based solutions to collaborate with your team. Basecamp HQ, Google Docs, Dropbox, and other cloud computing applications let you safely share files and manage projects from on- or off-site. Learn more about these online solutions.
- Share your schedule. A Monday morning check-in can help everyone plan the week. Coworkers and clients should know when they can expect to reach you—and when they can’t.
- Because you are establishing your credibility and creating trust, be accessible. Being reachable and delivering on time is more important than your physical location.
- Keep a detailed log of your hours, even if it’s not a job requirement. Report billable hours and expenses accurately and promptly, just as you would in the office.
- If you have to leave for an emergency, alert your supervisor or others who might need to reach you.
Know When Not to Work, Too
- Establish breaks and non-work tasks that work best for you. For some people, setting aside a time to workout, take a walk, or even meditate during the day can make you happier and more productive. This is one of the perks of working from home—and both you and your employer will benefit.
- Home workers often find they work longer hours from home. Keep an eye on your time and keep a good balance between work and life.
- If you’re not well, take a sick day and rest. It’s always better to get healthy so you can be 100% productive the next day.
Is your company still undecided about letting you work from home? Even in the face of all the facts about the advantages of working from home for both the employee and the company, be aware that most businesses are still working from a 1950s mindset of “going to work” rather than “getting the work done.” Assuring your supervisor that you’ve already established some of the details above may just help you take the leap into working from home. You might also suggest a transition to working from home with a few days in the office, and a few days at home.
The benefits of having a home office can easily make employees happier and feel more balanced. And it’s no secret that a happy worker is a productive worker.