There are a number of reasons why people choose to work from home. For some people, it’s about the flexibility of being able to work where they want and to avoid the horrors of commuting. For other people it’s about being able to juggle work and family commitments. It can also about cost, people who want to set up their own businesses often start out of their homes to save start-up costs. Regardless of the reason for working from home, there are some common points to remember to make it work.
Comfort Matters A Lot
Health and safety may give rise to a lot of jokes but there is a reason why companies carry out workstation assessments. They may be held liable if their employees injure themselves through working in an inappropriate environment. If you are working at home for an employer, they are likely to insist on a home assessment to ensure that you have an appropriate working environment.
Depending on the employer, this may be self assessed or they may carry out a physical check, some employers do a combination of self assessment and spot checks. It is very much in your best interests to ensure that your workstation is set up appropriately, particularly if you are self-employed. You do not want to injure yourself and make yourself unable to work.
You Need To Be Able To Hear Yourself Think
While some people like a bit of background noise and enjoy the opportunity to have their choice of music on while they work, even they can struggle with distracting noises. Other people really need quiet to get their best work done. If you’re going to work from home, it may be worth investing in good-quality earplugs, particularly if you live in a flat or on a busy street. You can control what goes on in your house, at least to some extent, but you can’t necessarily control your neighbours and it’s even harder to control what happens on public streets.
If there’s any possibility you may need to use the telephone, use a headset. If need be, buy a new telephone. If there’s any possibility that you may need to make lengthy calls, avoid cordless phones. You’ll have a problem if their battery runs out, or if the signal drops. In fact for business use, there’s a strong case for just avoiding cordless phones completely.
Similarly be very careful with wireless internet. It’s fine if you’re essentially working offline, for example, preparing documents, but if it’s crucial that you hold a connection, for example for a conference call, then you’re better off with a cabled connection.
Mark Your Office Clearly
If you share a home with anyone else then you need to get them trained to understand that working from home is still working. A good starting point is contacting a company which makes metal labels and having them make an appropriate sign for your office. Most adults will get this but young children will not, so you may need to make the message, gently, clearer, for example by wearing special clothes when you are working and being firm about being out of bounds when you are working. Having said that many people with young children do their best to work when they are in bed anyway.
The author learned about working from home through trial and error and hopes this article will help people to avoid some of the mistakes she made when first starting out. She is quite happy to swap corporate benefits for not having to commute to work and being able to wear what she likes while she’s working.