Does Working From Home Really Work?

work from home tipsThere’s no shortage of brouhaha over Marissa Mayer’s decision to put the kibosh on Yahoo!’s employees working from home.

The inarguable fact is, however, that working from home is a reality for an increasing number of professionals. From owning your own business to part-time and even full-time in-home office situations for corporate employees, out of the office is the new in-office.

How do you make working from home a success for your business and career?

Today, we have some tips to help you stay productive, stay sane, and avoid whiling the day away on your Xbox when your project list is piling up.

Get Dressed

It’s tempting to go about your work-from-home day in bunny slippers and pajama bottoms, but you’re probably going to get more done if you treat each day like you’re going to a real office. You know — a real office with other people in it who got dresses every day. While yes, there will be bunny slipper days, getting dressed puts you in a different frame of mind and sets your day up for productivity inside your home office. It even lets you run errands with ease when you need a break (saves the mad dash for something “presentable” to wear).

Have an Office with a Door

A sage piece of advice from Gini Dietrich out of Chicago, creator of the Spin Sucks blog. During a recent interview with Sarah Evans, she harvested some work-from-home gems like this one — and office with a door — to help you avoid distractions. When you have an official “in-home office”, it’s a lot easier to shut out the rest of the world from distractions if you can simply pull a door shut.

Have Set Work Hours

When working from home, it’s easy to lose track of your boundaries. Everything, after all, is home. And office. And your laptop can go anywhere. Leo Babuta over at Zen Habits has a great list of work-from-home tips (see tips 2 and 18) and offers simple advice about setting your work hours and sticking to them. Start your day and know when to call it a day.

Communicate Clearly, and Regularly

When working remotely from a traditional office situation, it’s important to let your team and boss know that you really are working. Business Insider offered tips for maintaining communications while you’re outside the office. Know when people expect to hear from you and why and hold up your end of the communication — and remote office — bargain. Going down-periscope on the company’s dime? Probably not the best approach.

Avoid “The Lonely”

It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re working from home. But how do you find some human interaction without the distractions? Try a coworking space. Coffee shops tend to have music blaring and endless distractions. Coworking spaces are filled with people…working…and can be the ideal balance for work-from-home folks. Just the right amount of human interaction combined with a clear work-related destination filled with people who are also trying to get things done.

For Employers, Have a Clear Policy

If you’re an employer offering telecommuting or other more permanent work-from-home type arrangements for employees, make sure it’s in writing. Randy Conley over at Blanchard Leader Chat offers six tips for creating a work-from-home policy for employers. Performance issues are key — know how you’ll evaluate and if needed correct discrepancies with your work-from-home team. Not everyone will need correction if your hiring process is dedicated to a good culture fit, but you need policies in place to remind both your company and employees — this is a team effort.

About Erika Napoletano

Erika Napoletano is a speaker, columnist, author and branding consultant at Boulder-based RHW Media - a firm dedicated to getting people UNstuck and over those annoying problems that keep them from being awesome. Learn more about her at erikanapoletano.com.

Comments

  1. I’ve found it’s much easier to have a work from home policy when we’re all doing it. Two years ago, we had half and half and the people who worked at the office always resented those who got to work at home. Because of that, I really like the tips you provide on how to stay in touch with the mothership so people in the office understand you’re working as hard (if not harder) than them.

    As a business owner, it’s essential to be focused on results and not on time spent in the chair. People will run to the grocery story in the middle of the day or (like me) workout at lunchtime. If you’re worried about that kind of stuff and not about whether or not the person delivers, it won’t work.

  2. Simon Twigger says:

    You mentioned Coworking spaces as another option – Boulder is in the vanguard of this emerging trend and has quite a few really good coworking options available. Some have been around for a few years, some only just opened in early 2013 and there are rumors of more on the way. They each have a slightly different atmosphere so its worth checking out a few to see what you think. You can find more information from the Boulder Coworking Alliance’s Spaces page: http://bouldercoworking.org/

  3. I find it more productive working for home I get distracted by too many people when in the office, so it’s nice to work from home where you can get some peace.

  4. Erika. That’s def me too. Pretty quiet. How and what types of companies could I look into to work at home , office work. Data entry etc.?

    • I don’t quite know what kinds of companies allow work-from-home employees these days. I’ve owned my own business since 2008 — and my boss (me) always lets me work from home! Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

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