Welcome to 2020! Working from home is a dream cherished by many. It is something that is often thought about, especially on those lazy hot summer days during holidays, when many of us reflect on the year gone past and then dream of a better future.
From a superficial point of view it would seem to have many advantages, not the least freedom from constant interruption. However there can be significant downsides to working from a home office. As with nearly all things in business these downsides can be managed and often turned to a good end.
Working from home is not just about being at home, it is all about creating a working environment that is conducive to conducting all those tasks that you would normally carry out in your regular work environment. Additionally you must ensure that your environment allows you to carry out those tasks in a business like manner.
The home work environment must do two things. It must allow/enable you to:
- Organise the space that you will work from; and
- Organise your work schedule.
To do the first you will need to ensure that you have a dedicated space that you can call your home office. Preferably a separate room that you can call your own and that is dedicated to working from home. Doing so ensures that you can separate your home life from your working life. It also ensures that others recognise that when you are in this home office space that you are at work. Working from the kitchen table just doesn’t work, nor does trying to manage the kids at the same time.
In addition to having a dedicated office space you should set up your space as an office, with all the supports that you have at the normal office, such as phone, printer, computer, internet connection, in/out tray, files and wastepaper basket.
Crucially you will need to ensure that you are not distracted by other household members, a TV blaring or any of the other myriad things that can distract you at home. You need to set yourself some rules. You may be at home, but once you enter your dedicated space, you are at work! No checking the cricket scores on the telly etc.
And secondly, just as important as establishing a work space and making sure that you have the right business support equipment and a none-distracting environment, is the need to ensure that you organise your work schedule, just like you do at work.
It is a good idea to set up a work routine, so that you start work in the home office at a regular time and that you plan your work day. If you use a diary, e-diary or calendar at your regular work place, then you need to ensure that your home organising system integrates with your work one.
You should set yourself a realistic work schedule, one that suits your own requirements and that meshes with your employer’s requirements. There is no benefit and a lot of downside if you want to work from 3pm to 10pm, when the “Office” needs you to be on the job from 9 till 5. So you need to set workable access hours.
Finally you also need to think about the things that you may miss from the regular work environment, such as social interaction, the ability to use your colleagues as sounding boards, the type of things that are done so much better in person. It is all about setting the right balance.