I was recently enjoying a relaxed afternoon with family and friends. The weather was great, the food was even better and the whole atmosphere made for a really pleasant time. The kind of thing that happens in backyards all over our wonderful country every weekend.
Conversation was flowing, the world was put to rights, we discussed politics, family, lives past and present and then the W word.
Our friends both work for one of Australia’s major banks in Sydney. They have recently been granted permission to set up a home office from which they can work from daily. The attitude of the bank being it’s going to be more efficient, productive and cost effective to have two of their senior employees not having to do a daily 4 hour commute. For our friends, it had so many benefits to be able to work closer to or in this instance at home. They showed me around the office which is situated in an old brick garage that is off the house. It was a completely professional looking work space, everything you’d imagine a modern office having. We discussed the disciplines of working from home and how important it was for both employer and employee to have the right environment to work in.
In my opinion there real disciplines required to moving your work space in to your home, whether you are self employed or in employment.
I have worked in several roles previously where the option of working from home was part of my arrangement, however, it was only something I would ever take up if circumstances required it, usually ill health. It’s not that I don’t have the discipline to do it, I have had many productive days working from home, but whilst doing so I also learned some valuable lessons on the way.
Here are my 4 key success factors to creating the best working environment from your own abode.
1. Separating Work Life from Home Life
This is one of the key disciplines of working from home. When you bring your work life in to your home, especially around your family, there needs to be a degree of understanding that while you are there, during work hours you are working. You can’t suddenly become a child minder, taxi driver or have other interruptions simply because you are at home. Having the right office or work space is something that will help with this. Having the support of your family who understand that you are at work is also important. Most of all your own discipline here to to know that when you are at work, you are indeed at work. The distractions in your home must not interrupt your working day. Again, the right space or office will help here.
2. The right work space
For me, part of coming to work every day and something I enjoy is my morning routine. While it can be chaotic if the kids aren’t complying, it is an important part of my day and helps me prepare and focus for the workload that awaits me. For me, I like the act of getting up, showering, dressing and leaving the house for the day. It has purpose to it. For me it feels right.
So, having the right work space at home is essential. A stable table and laptop in the lounge room won’t work, nor will a kitchen table. You are putting yourself in the most frequented rooms in the house and even if nobody else is home, these are rooms that are full of family life and something that should be kept very seperate.
Ideally, like my friends, a building or space off the house would be ideal. That way you can go through your morning routine, even using the drive to drop the kids off at school before returning to your home office as part of it. You’ll feel like you are going to work, therefore when you arrive you will be ready.
3. Dressing for work
Dressing for work is another discipline you need to master when working from home. If you were in the office what would you wear? You wouldn’t show up in pyjamas, shorts and singlet would you? So why woUld you dress like that when working from home. Your job hasn’t chmaged so why should your outfit? Always make sure you dress for work and feel as though you are dressed for work. This will help with your productivity, and mindset to make it through the day without distraction.
4. Not overdoing it
Again this is something that you must be aware of when working from home. Just because your employer has been gracious enough to allow you to have the flexibility of a home office, it doesn’t mean you should be tied to it for 10 to 12 hours a day. So, ensure that while you are meeting each days objectives, you are not burning the midnight oil with a feeling of obligation and gratitude. You have been entrusted to work from home and deliver the same results as you would within your company workspace. It might be that they even improve, but you do need to make sure that you don’t push yourself to burning out by overdoing it as a way of justifying your work from home life. This will lead to resentment and burnout very quickly.
If you get these disciplines right, you working from home will be an enjoyable experience.