Working from home is often thought of as the ‘dream’. The flexible hours, the less than ten step commute, the freedom to determine your work schedule and who could forget the relaxed dress code.
But when you start working from home you’re confronted with a rather different reality.
You become distracted by a steady stream of interruptions, someone moves (or draws on) the client notes you desperately needed for your meeting, all of your pens keep miraculously disappearing and suddenly there are a million more ways to procrastinate.
So to help you gain all the benefits of working from home and overcome the challenges, here are the seven golden rules of working from home.
1. Claim your space
Ideally, when you’re working from home you want a space where you can close the door and say to yourself (and everyone else) “I’m working now”.
Though not everyone has the luxury of a custom-made office space or a spare bedroom to use.
If you find you have to share your office with the family living space, set your desk up in a convenient place away from the busiest and noisiest areas of your home. If you are having trouble with interruptions while you are working because you are in plain sight, consider putting up a screen or barrier to indicate you are working. This can also be a great way to close off from your office at the end of the day too.
2. Keep your office organised
When your surroundings are unorganised, your thoughts can tend to be unorganised too, leaving you feeling even more stressed and flustered.
For your own sanity, keep your office organised and tidy so you can easily find and access what you need, when you need it.
3. Get clever with storage space
If you have a small area to work with, look for clever with shelving and storage options to help you maximise your space.
Shop around for innovative shelving units and desk storage that will help you to stay organised, keep your work area tidy and make it easier to navigate.
4. Have a separate business line to maintain professionalism
Having a separate business phone line that can go to voicemail when you’re unable to answer is ideal.
If that’s not possible, and you are using your personal landline, ensure a designated business voicemail message is used and that all calls are answered with your business welcome message i.e. “Thank you for calling [business name], this is [name].”
Far better your friends and family hear you answer professionally than your clients hear you answer unprofessionally.
5. Have set work times
When you work from home you can feel the pull of competing priorities. The key to managing this is to schedule specific times for work, family and yourself.
It won’t always work out the way you plan, but your schedule will help you and your family know when you are “at work” and when you are “at home”.
6. Set clear work rules
Establish clear rules around your work time so your family knows your boundaries. Communicate when you are doing low concentration work that can be interrupted, and high concentration work that can’t be interrupted.
Often a little communication can go a long way in creating a productive work routine. Having regular breaks and family time can also help your family respond better to you work schedule.
7. Have a switch-off routine
One of the more challenging parts of working from home is the fact that work is always staring you in the face. So for your own sanity it is important to have a switch off routine.
It could be as simple as closing your diary, switching off your computer and phone and closing the door. Whatever it takes for you to leave work mode and enter home mode.
What are your golden rules for working from home?