As every self -employed entrepreneur or freelance contractor knows, working from home means that very little sits between them and day time television and therefore bankruptcy. If you work from home as part of your employment contract, it is even more important to make sure you are disciplined.
But when you are working from home it can be a challenge to manage your time and workspace as professional, and not to blur the boundaries with your private life. This is even more important if you are a corporate employee working remotely.
What are the 7 dos and dont’s – of working from home?
The 7 Big dos
1. Establish dedicated office space
Using a room specifically for the purpose of working from home is the best solution, although not always possible. Wherever it can be arranged it should not be in the same room as a bed or your kitchen. This becomes more important for video-conferencing, more than personal visits.
2. Invest in high quality hardware and equipment
This goes without saying, but a laptop and smart phone are vital. Many freelancers have a spare computer just in case. But add a printer- scanner to your shopping list and any other professional level add ons, such as a blue- tooth headset, external disk drive and white board for brain storming. Anything else will depend on your area of activity, but could involve high level presentation equipment such, as beemer and microphone
3. Have business-grade technology
Invest in business standard support and warranty services. One of the most common complaints from the self-employed is the lack of IT support when they become CEOS of themselves. This is especially true of IT security software and password protection. Extend this to anything that might impact your ability to generate revenue – car breakdown warranties and so on.
4. Invest in branding
Whether its a good quality web site or business cards, make sure your new brand is consistently of high quality at all levels. Ensure you have all the apps you need to keep on top of your to-do list and keep up to date with social media and other technology.
5. Take breaks and work office hours
Make sure to take breaks throughout the day for lunch and exercise. Many are surprised that over-working can be just as damaging as mooching on the sofa.
6. Manage your family
Make your office off- limits to your family, whether toddlers or teenagers. Both can wreak havoc on your systems from down loading virus infected pop videos or deleting material with sticky inquisitive fingers. If you work regular business hours, it will be clearer for them too.
7. Be prepared
Make sure you have an alternative location to your home in the event of a problem. Companies dig up roads, neighbours drill their walls. Have the address of a co-working location, an internet café or even the password to your neighbours internet connection in the event of an emergency.
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The 7 Big Don’ts
1. Use office for storage
I have been on conference calls with home workers and their offices look like junk yards with laundry baskets, elliptical machines and tennis racquets clearly visible. This does not create a professional image.
2. Wear P.Js or gym kit
Research shows that people who dress for the job are more productive than those who don’t. A work wardrobe puts you in a work frame of mind. It needn’t be a power suit and heels but something above the level of sweaty lycra.
3. Blur private and professional
Separating personal and professional is really important. Never work in bed as both can pollute the other to make you unproductive. Make sure ambient household noise, dishwashers, washing machines and televisions are minimised. Some would add children and pets. This is a tough call, but barking dogs and crying children are a distraction. If your child is crying, it is probably because he/she needs your attention. It’s best to find a way to prioritise.
4. Over personalise
It’s fun to have some personal statements and effects, but too many can detract from the job in hand.
5. Over share on social media
Your clients may not take kindly to pictures on Facebook of outings with friends when you are supposed to be meeting a deadline, so bear that in mind when posting your updates. Be careful as well of “check-ins” unless it doesn’t matter who knows where you are.
6. Do household chores during work hours.
It can become extremely distracting to split your attention and a danger zone many freelancers get into. It can take twice as long to complete your work.
7. Ignore your daily plan
It’s important to create a daily to do list and a schedule that allows you be productive. Any deviations can be counter productive. This is not to be confused with flexibility, but losing focus.