Whenever people hear you work from home, they’re immediately filled with envy as they imagine you working from bed, in pajamas, and in control of your own time. What they don’t realize is just like any regular office job, working from home is still work. You have targets to meet and deadlines to keep. The truth is, working at home is far from the ideal set up it’s cracked up to be, seeing as how it can lead to inefficiency and having to put in double the effort. Any person who has worked from home will agree that it can turn into a lot of wasted time, effort, and rushing to produce requirements at the last minute. Double the stress for what others think is a cushy set-up.
Keep an Office
Part of being productive is working in a productive environment. Just as an office workstation ensures that everything you need to be get your job done properly, a remote workstation should function the same way. Find a quiet place at home where you can set up shop. Ensure that there are no distractions—that means no TV for you—and keep everything you need for work, from files and references, your computer, to your office supplies, centralized. If you’re the type who needs coffee or snacks to function properly, keep a mini pantry nearby, just to ensure that you don’t leave your workstation during work hours. Leaving can mean distractions and that’s what you want to avoid.
If the house proves to be too distracting, set up shop elsewhere. Co-working shops allow freelancers and telecommuters the structure of an office set-up with the flexibility of working from home. Some co-working shops let you choose from daily, weekly, or monthly rates so you can switch between working at home and working outside the home depending on your needs.
Set a Schedule
Make sure you meet your work goals by setting a regular working schedule, even if you’re on flexitime. Keeping a regular schedule creates routines that your body will recognize and allow you to work more productively. As setting a work sched is important, so is clocking in and clocking out. Avoid burnout by stopping work at a certain time, just like you would if you’re in an office. Also remember to take scheduled breaks for coffee and lunch.
Before you begin your day, set daily goals and create a list of your tasks. Check them off as your day progresses. Doing so will make you feel your accomplishments and keep you inspired and productive.
Recognize the Importance of Networking
Networking, whether virtually or physically, helps a lot when you work at home. Virtual networking keeps you connected and allows you to tap other professionals who may give you leads to other work or who may help you accomplish your tasks. Networking via face-to-face meetings are also important because aside from connecting you with other professionals, it also gets you out of the house and keeps you on your toes. It also gives you valuable face time with your co-workers and bosses, strengthening your position in the team.
Just because you work in your pajamas doesn’t make you less of a professional than people who work in a suit. Be professional in all your dealings to assure management and clients that they can count on you to produce top notch work. Dress up professionally during face-to-face and video calls, keep lines of communication open during regular work hours, and accomplish all legal and tax requirements. Aside from being a professional for your employers and clients, you should also treat yourself professionally. Make sure your insurance, retirement savings, and 401(k) are always covered.
When working from home, discipline is the key and efficiency is your bottom line. Approach work the same way you would an office job and you can expect to get the benefits of working in the office, with the benefits of staying at home.