Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand you don’t have to worry about traffic, subway lines, forgetting (insert object) at home, or being unable to care for loved ones. On the other hand, working from home can blur the lines between work and family and have the potential for decreased effectiveness and who wants that?
Here are steps you can take to make sure your work-from-home experience:
1) Have your own (distraction free) workspace. A separate office used solely for work is ideal. If a solo office does not exist create a work area somewhere in the house that is free of distractions. The coffee table table in front of the tv may not be the best location unless you have great discipline.
2) Set your hours. People telecommute for different reasons. Regardless, setting your hours will help get you on schedule. For 9-5 type jobs it is pretty simple. Things get a wee bit more complicated when your schedule may be irregular due to family or personal commitments. These commitments are not bad (they are often the reason we do telecommute) but this is not an excuse not to block off the required work time on a calendar.
3) Communicate with your office. Make sure your hours are clearly posted and accessible to coworkers. Also, it is helpful if coworkers know how and when to reach you. If work does not provide a telephone line then you have to decide, will you use your home phone, your cell phone, Skype etc to communicate with others. Those who work away from the office sometimes feel isolate or are even neglected in decisions because coworkers (and even supervisors) are not always sure how to reach people or what times are appropriate. There is often a stigma of laziness associated with telecommuting. Letting people know how and when to communicate with you is important in making sure you are still part of the team.
4) Embrace Distractions- they happen! If a life circumstance makes this difficult make sure to be upfront with others about it. For example, if you are working part time to spend more time with your preschool children you may want to give that client a heads up if they are not familiar with the situation. Ideally you want a distraction free zone but life happens, so embrace it.
*Point #5 is for those who are going from a traditional office environment to a work-at-home environment on some sort of basis.
6) Tell them why. Telecommuters are sometimes thought of as slackers or as having it easy. I am not recommending airing your personal affairs but consider telling colleagues who work closest with you what is happening. It can help diffuse gossip or odd sentiments.
Telecommuting is here to stay as companies can save money on brick and mortar costs. For employees, telecommuting offers a part-time or alternative work arrangement that can help them meet the demands of personal commitments. In either case, approaching your job with the same professionalism and work ethic one would approach site based employment is vital in decreasing workplace conflict and increasing personal satisfaction.
Dr. Paul Artale is a motivational speaker, author, and organizational coach who helps organizations create high performance culture through understanding employee needs and leveraging their strengths.
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For more information visit www.paulartale.com