It’s not for everyone, but for some people (me included) working from home just works! I’ve had plenty of years’ worth of working in ‘corporate world’ and the politics and red tape that come with it, years of the long commute (at one stage travelling 195 miles to get to the office) and don’t get me started on the hours of wasted productivity getting caught up in water cooler conversations!
Luckily, my job as a Virtual Assistant allows me to just get on with my work without having to battle through rush hour traffic, attend unnecessary meetings or get distracted by the constant noise of a busy office. A lot of my work requires peace and quiet to allow me to concentrate anyway so being able to work from home is actually really important for me.
Working from home isn’t possible for all jobs and I truly believe that it only really works for certain personalities, but here are a few pointers to help you out:
1) Is it really for you? – If you’re the sort of person who gets easily distracted, then working from home probably isn’t for you. Chatting to neighbours, taking on a quick DIY task, putting the washing out, taking the dog for a walk or catching up on last night’s EastEnders will all prevent you from getting on with your workload. You really have to be able to focus on your work or you will see the day trickle away before your eyes. Of course, if you’re able to juggle the workload and some of the home responsibilities too, then you could be racing towards the perfect work-life balance.
2) Set your working hours – If you didn’t work from home, you would probably have to stick to the office hours like everyone else. However, working from home allows you to set your own hours based around your own optimum productivity. Being a morning person, I prefer to start early so I’m always at my desk by at least 7am and being self-employed, I can often still be at it 12 hours later, but if my client work is all completed and I’m able to finish a little early on a Friday, then so be it.
3) Your working space – When working from home is mentioned, most people see someone sitting in their pyjamas with a laptop on their lap. If that works for you, that’s great but I prefer to have a space which is solely for my work because it gives me separation from the rest of the home. I can shut the spare bedroom door at the end of the working day just as if I was leaving a conventional office. And the commute home is great!
4) Enjoy your space – Another benefit to having a space dedicated to your working day is having everything around you that you need without having to constantly fetch things from elsewhere. All the equipment I need to complete my work is within my home office, my desk is right in front of a window so I have plenty of natural light and the kitchen is only across the hall if I need a coffee top-up.
5) Plan your work – This is especially important when working from home. Whether you use a task list app or just a pencil and paper, having a clear view on what work you plan to complete each day keeps you focused on the job at hand. And if you get finished ahead of schedule, you can either get a head start on the following week or treat yourself to an early finish – whichever works for you!
6) Don’t forget to take a break – Although this is something that I’m not very good at, I would recommend taking several breaks throughout the day so that you remain fresh. I may not be good at doing this myself but I do get up to make coffee at regular intervals which also tests that my legs are still working!
7) Communication is key - Working from home can be lonely and it's important that you interact with other people and not just your keyboard. There are many things you can do to keep in touch with the outside world; go to networking groups, meet with colleagues/fellow home workers, call a friend or just go for a quick walk to get out the house.
8) Don’t get slouchy – They say that most people can tell if you’re smiling whilst on the telephone. So what if your client, colleague or even your boss could tell that you were still in your pyjamas at 2 o’clock in the afternoon? It is important to remain as professional as if you were working in the office, so taking the same pride in your appearance when working from home will assist greatly in portraying that attitude.
Staying focused when working from home can be difficult but if you are determined, organised and are prepared to work just as hard, it can also be the solution to gaining the perfect work-life balance.
For me, not having the noise and distractions of a regular office along with a tiresome commute allow me to be far more productive. I get real quality working hours and getting home takes no time at all (literally!).