Technological advancements have led to an increasing number of employees working from home: according to Fast Company, 1 in 10 employees now works from home; and although the workforce in the US grew only 3% from 2005 – 2012, the number of telecommuters increased 66%!
Working from home offers several advantages:
- Commute: Eliminating a commute allows more time to be spent on work tasks, reduces stress, and decreases fuel expenses and parking fees. Working from home full time even just 50% of the time could save 109 hours per year and $750 in fuel costs!
- Flexibility: A more flexible schedule allows employees to work when they are most productive.
- Productivity: A home office is free of distractions caused by needy co-workers, long lunches, unproductive meetings or loud office environments.
- Family: In some cases, working parents can stay at home with children or pick them up from school, reducing day care or after school program expenses.
- Comfort: Casual dress is more comfortable and less expensive in comparison to business attire.
However, there are also some disadvantages:
- Distractions: Some employees may be more distracted by household chores, an unstructured environment, a partner or small children.
- Isolation: Feeling lonely or “out of the loop” with the rest of the team.
- 24/7 Connectivity: Some employees may find they are constantly working, since they never officially leave the office.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Less visibility could mean lower chances for promotion or salary increases.
- Communicaton: Face to face communication is highly preferred to virtual communication for certain topics.
To make working from home a successful experience, consider the following tips:
- Face time. Go into the office at least one per week if possible – remember to respect the dress code. If you’re in a remote location, schedule a weekly video conference to share status updates. Make sure to complete your annual performance review.
- Set hours. You don’t have to work 8AM – 5PM, but once you pick a schedule, stick to it. This will help co-workers know when they can reach you.
- Turn off. If you think of something additional to do after hours that isn’t urgent, make a note of it and work on it in the morning.
- Focus. Commit to working during your work hours; and leave household tasks for after hours. Some people think that people who work from home spend all day watching TV – don’t prove them right.
- Restrict Internet. If you find you are easily distracted by personal e-mail, Facebook or YouTube, there are several free productivity tools such as SelfRestraint, Self Control and StayFocusd that will allow you to block access to selected websites for a chosen block of time; or restrict the amount of time you can spend on these sites.
- Set boundaries. Make sure your friends and family know that although you’re at home, you’re busy with work. If you are unable to focus on work due to child care demands, you may have to consider keeping your children in daycare.
- Prioritize. Set deadlines for what you will accomplish each day. At the end of the day, make a list of what you need to accomplish the next day.
- Dedicate a space. Choose a room in your house. Let your family know if you are in that room with the door shut, it means you don’t want to be disturbed. Keep this room free of clutter and items that could distract you.
- Be available. If you do leave home, take your cell phone and set an away message if you use company instant messaging.
- Optimize your technology. If your company offers a VPN network, set it up so you can access company e-mail, software or instant messaging solutions. Make sure you have a printer and any other tools you may need. You may want to consider setting up a separate phone line for work, to ensure call quality and better separation of work from your personal life.