For many, a home office sounds like the ultimate work fantasy: Visions of working in pyjamas, spending more time with family, scheduling your own time — what could be better? Unfortunately, all those images are exactly that — fantasy. When the line between home and work gets blurred, things can get a little complicated.
Several obstacles make working from home more difficult than it seems at first, and it requires discipline to stay at the top of your game when you’re not in an office. Fortunately, we have a few guidelines to help you do just that.
First: Should you work from home?
Working from home is definitely not for everyone. Personality traits to be conscious of are:
- Do you need the presence of others to hold you accountable?
- Do you already have trouble putting down your smartphone when the day is done?
- Do you thrive on professional interaction?
Characteristics like these can mean that you’re not a great candidate for working from home. You know yourself, so do a hard self-evaluation before you commit to a home office. Some people are self-motivated, while others need to be pushed along to stay on task.
Set it up right
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean it can happen from the comfort of your couch. You’ll need a desk, a door, and business-quality materials. Setting up a professional workspace is crucial because tucking it in the family room or kitchen just doesn’t give you the separation you need to work and see clients.
Having the right equipment in your dedicated work space creates a sense of separation and makes it easier to ‘go home’ after work.
Treat your home office like a real office
This means a strict ‘no pyjamas’ rule. Get up at a normal hour, have breakfast, get dressed, make your coffee and go to your home office. Stay off Facebook and other personal sites except during lunch breaks. End the day as you would a normal work day — pick up the kids, go to gym, do groceries, etc. Create some structure for your day;it will help make a clear demarcation between work and play time.
Separate your work and personal life
Getting distracted by your personal to-do list can be one of the biggest obstacles to effectively working from home. If it becomes a habit, your productivity will quickly go down the tubes. Adopt a mindset that your office environment is miles away from your home. Whether that means closing the door, or turning off your personal phone, have some system for barring personal distractions while you’re ‘at work’.
At the same time, you’ll continually have to wrestle with working too much because the office is right there. It’s by far a bigger challenge than staying motivated, for some. You can set simple rules like ”I don’t talk about work when the laptop is switched off. I don’t talk about work in the family room.”
A special note for those with children
Building an effective home office can be especially difficult for people with children, but it’s not impossible. Help the kids understand what it means to work from home, and draw boundaries like being quiet when you’re on the phone, and knocking on the office door before entering.
Home offices can be lonely
When you work out of your home, you don’t have the opportunity to build the deep personal connections you can make when you work with others. Without that interaction, it’s easy to feel isolated. The physical remoteness can result in mental isolation too, which can stifle motivation and discipline. It’s important to get out and stay in touch. Meet people. Seek advice. Get a process of acquiring and sounding out ideas.
Why working from home is awesome
- It’s environmentally friendly
- More time with family
- Less stressful environment
- Quieter atmosphere
- Eliminates long commutes
- Less distraction
- More productive
- Saves petrol
- Improved work/home balance
- Lowers overheads and initial investment.
Source: Microsoft, Work without Walls