For many, the prospect of working from home not only entices, but beckons. The freedom of space, time, and attitude compel many to give it a try.
Recent surveys show that 3.9 million employees work from home. This only accounts for those telecommuting to a larger office. When the number of people working partially in an office and partially at home is calculated it reflects a whopping 30 million employees.
Working from home provides challenges and rewards not seen in the traditional office environment. If you desire to work from home, consider some of the following tips for establishing an effective home office.
We’ve split the advice into two categories: mentality and reality.
Home Office Mentality
Working from home doesn’t just require the right equi0pment to perform the usual tasks, it requires a delicate balance in the mindset. Consider these 5 tips for establishing the right mental landscape.
Set a Schedule
Scheduling when to work, how long to work, and when to be done with work represent unforeseen complications for many. Few people really grasp how much the lack of structure (which is one of the major benefits of telecommuting) messes with productivity.
Making a schedule and sticking to it creates necessary structure. The structure itself doesn’t have to be ironclad, nor does it have to be in the same work-break-work-lunch-work style of a traditional workplace.
Finding the right combination can take some time. Sticking to the schedule becomes the job for many.
While the freedom of building your own schedule makes time for the other important things in life, those things still take time. They also take from work time.
Scheduling some time for taking care of personal business and errands provides a better bubble of time to focus and work during your schedule. The more of your personal life you can take care of in a chunk, the better you will feel.
Having a home office provides better windows for personal business but also provides pressure that any non-work time is taking away from work time.
Know When to End the Day (or Not)
Much like working at a traditional workplace, sometimes you just don’t’ want to be done. Or perhaps you tend to take the work home with you. When home and work become the same place it can magnify these issues.
With a home office, you choose when you are done. This makes it easy to keep going when you hit a stride, and okay to be done when you struggle to find your footing.
Be the Part
Some home workers suggest you dress the part, the same as if you were going into a regular office. Others delight in the comfort and freedom to dress down or not at all.
The outer wrapper shouldn’t’ concern you unless you want it to. If you work comfortably in pajamas, go for it. If you find you do your best when upright and in the best attire, go for that.
This section is titled ‘be the part’ because how you work is a reflection of yourself. Don’t be what you don’t want to be, embrace the freedom and be the part.
Work Space vs Home Space
Social and family pressures can intrude quickly on a home office environment. Being able to set boundaries about when you are working and when you are just at home become important.
Professional space has advantages over home space. To combat this gap, especially for small and freelance home businesses consider the advantages of a virtual office. WorkSocial virtual offices provide a lot of the utility and veneer of a traditional office without taking up your space.
Home Office Reality
With the mental landscape in place, the physical space can take shape. A home office needs to be a certain way for the work to commence. Much like in Be the Part, the specific fit depends on you.
A home office space needs to fit the work that will be done there. An office built for writing won’t need as much space as an office meant for importing/exporting.
The space should reflect the user, but it should also reflect the work. Avoid trying to work with so little space that you feel cramped and claustrophobic. Also, avoid so much space that you feel insignificant and small.
Office equipment needs to exist. The home office can’t operate without the same key equipment of the traditional office. This usually means at least a computer, phone, and online connections.
Some offices will require physical creation objects like a printer or destruction object like a shredder.
Whatever your office needs think about how it will fit in the space, how often it will be used, and above all, how much noise and distraction it may cause.
Working from home features all the distractions of working in an office and all of the distractions of being home. To get work done deliberate effort needs to be taken to reduce distraction.
For some, this requires having a separate app and social media accounts to keep the focus on work relationships and not on personal ones. This can also require noise-reduction paneling to keep house and office sounds separate.
Licenses and Certificates
More for home offices that are also home businesses, having the proper paperwork to use the residence for the work it is doing can be essential. Doing taxes and other common business activities reminds you that you are working, not just being at home.
Entertaining clients in the home office requires the space to reflect the air that you are running a business. Displaying appropriate licenses and credentials does a lot of this work for you.
Food and Work
An unseen danger of working from home is food intake. Constant snacking can be tempting, and access to your own supplies for things like coffee can lead to excess.
Treating yourself as an employee and establishing a policy on how much food and drink can be consumed in the office will help control your calories and your productivity.
More Tips and Advice!
If you found this article useful, consider looking through our guides for many home/work topics. We also offer information and blogs on business and insights into emerging topics and trends that can help you.