For many people, working from home sounds like a dream come true. You get paid to do work you enjoy while being surrounded by all the comforts of home. And it is true that there are many advantages for both the employee and the employer, such as no long commutes and increased productivity. However it is also true that without some forethought and discipline, the advantages can become minimized and working from home can become a challenge.
It can be difficult to avoid distractions in the workplace. At home there are no meetings to attend or co-workers popping into your cube or office unannounced. However, there are other distractions at home. At the office, you most likely will not have the kids looking for attention and you can’t see that basket of laundry taunting you to be done.
Working at home is simply a different animal, and requires forethought. You need your own space that can be separated from your home life. You’ll want to adjust your schedule to allow for work time and personal time. In addition, we have compiled the following tips to help limit the distractions and maximize your ability to work from home.
- Family – if you have young children in the house during work hours (or older children back in the house), make sure they are aware of your work schedule and understand about quiet time and inside voices. Arrange to spend time with them outside your work hours and when you do, give them all your attention. Doing so will make it easier for them to behave during the periods you can’t interact with them.
- Friends – Just like your family, friends and neighbors need to understand that just because you are home doesn’t mean that you are available. Alert everyone to your schedule and let them know when you can speak with them and when not. And then stick to that schedule! You may also want to place a sign on your front door asking people not to use the doorbell while you are working. This will help reduce distractions and reduce potentially bothersome noise if you are on customer or conference call.
- Background Noise – Take a look at where you work located relative to potential noisemakers in the home. Is your workspace adjacent to the utility room with the washer and dryer? Does your office window open onto a dog park or other public recreational area? Be aware of how these noises can impact both your work and your clients or coworkers when you are on the phone with them.
- Pets – Your pets are unlikely to understand quiet time, so they may need to be locked up. That may be a simple as closing your office door, or it may require them to be placed outside or crated at the other end of the house. Either way, nothing can break your professional atmosphere like a dog barking in the background of a client call.
- Housework – When you work from home, it is easy to think “I’ll just take care of that laundry, then I’ll get back to work”. Next thing you know, you’re elbow deep in housework and your work isn’t getting done. It’s OK to do little things, like pick up your kid’s glass on the way to the kitchen to get yourself some water, but either leave the big things until you are done for the day.
- Social Media – Social Media can be tough to get away from at the best of times, particularly if handling social media transactions are part of your work routine. To prevent it from taking all of your time, set a schedule for checking your social media only two or three times during the day, at 10, 2 and 4 perhaps. That way you can keep abreast of the latest happenings with your friends, while still keeping your focus on your work.
- Personal Phone Calls – If you’ve explained your work time to your friends and family correctly, these shouldn’t be a problem, but will probably still happen. When they do, confirm that it isn’t an emergency, then keep it short so you can get back to work quickly without breaking your flow.
Working from home provides an environment free of typical office distractions, but it exposes you to a whole new set of issues at home. Getting the most out of working from home requires discipline and a bit of planning, but in the end it can be the best place to work!