The ability to work remotely is an amazing opportunity for many people, especially those who may have certain health conditions or need flexible hours. However, even in the absence of those needs, more and more people are working remotely – studies show that about 15% of the population works from home at least part of the time, and that will likely increase. Many robust studies show that remote workers score higher on productivity scales – the reasons for this may vary, but some psychologists claim that it is because there is no worry about what is happening at home (are the dogs okay? Did the kids get on the bus okay?) because the worker is there and already knows the answers. Therefore, they are able to focus on work. There’s also the possibility that they encounter fewer coworkers and are less likely to be side-tracked by the water cooler or coffee station. However, that doesn’t mean that there are not snares to working from home! In fact, unless you establish some firm guidelines and boundaries, you could find your career seriously off-course.
Three Guidelines For Working Remotely
- Get up early
- Establish a firm work setting and work hours
- Close the door and laptop after the end of your day
It’s tempting to sleep in if you don’t have to dress up and drive to work. But you’re less likely to be productive when you have un-brushed teeth, messy hair, and in your pajamas all day. Not to mention the fact that many work at home positions mean the possibility that you could be Skyped for a conference call. You don’t want to be caught in your nightgown or called while you are putting your clothes on. Get up early enough to prepare for work – you don’t have to wear a business suit, but looking presentable is important for how you feel. Eat a decent breakfast, get your coffee, and make time to scan the morning news if that’s important to you. You’re still going to work – it’s just down the hall!
Ideally, you should have a designated office space. It’s the best environment for you so that you can close the door if you have others in the home, repairmen present, etc. Don’t forget that you may need to be able to get away from your barking dogs if you’re on the phone with a client! Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can simultaneously care for young children and have a serious work-from-home position, either. You’ll need to find childcare while you work – it’s okay for it to be in your home, but you need to be able to close the door. Make sure your family and friends know your work hours and that they are non-negotiable, just as if you were at the office (unless you truly have a very rare thing, which is a truly flexible schedule.) Tell them good times you are available, and when you take your lunch. Make sure to actually take a break, too. Even if it is to put something in the crockpot or in the washing machine – it will let you stretch and give your eyes a break.
At the end of your day or eight hours, whatever the arrangement is, clean your workspace, turn off your computers, close the blinds, turn off your lights and close the door! You’re done for the day, and you need to signify that to yourself and others. Because your workspace exists in your home, the lines can become blurred and it may be difficult for you to leave the day behind. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, stop looking at work emails and revert to “home” mode. You deserve it!
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