The other day I was getting my hair done and passing time by having some idle conversation with the stylist. I mentioned that I work from home some days and she exclaimed, “That would be great! I could get so much done around the house.”
This probably wouldn’t have struck me if I hadn’t spent the last five years running a web development company with employees who worked remotely. The work from home arrangement worked well in most cases, but I found that I had to probe during the interview process to make sure that everyone understood that work needed to be done.
Here are four tips I offered to everyone to make sure that they knew how to set themselves up for success when working from home:
- Prepare a dedicated home office space. This can be a room or the corner of a room. Whatever the size, it needs to be equipped with all the technology and supplies needed in the course of a day’s work and free from distractions.
- Arrange for childcare. Even if you are at home, you are working and can’t be both caregiver and worker at the same time. Arrange for childcare during working hours, in house or out of the house.
- Set work hours. Define for yourself the hours you are working. This ensures that you aren’t in the middle of vacuuming the house when you get a work call and also that you don’t work around the clock.
- Be professional. When on work calls, the people you are talking to should not be able to tell where you are sitting. The same professional etiquette applies. It’s not acceptable to have a barking dog or shouting kids in the background. It’s not OK to say you need to get off the phone to rotate the laundry.
Of course, when you are at home you can spend your work breaks and missed commuting time emptying the dishwasher, planning for dinner, and other household matters. People who are able to focus on their work while at home find these and other benefits. For those that can’t focus on work outside of the office, it is probably best to avoid work from home roles altogether.
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