Home working can for some people be a means to balancing work and life commitments, a way for an employer to cut back on office costs, a preferred way of working, or a necessity born from self-employment. People work from home full time, part time, or on occasional days as a way of focusing on a particularly pressing pile of work.
Love it or loath it home working is growing. A survey by CBI/Harvey Nash found that in 2011 59% of employers offered teleworking as an option (up from 14% in 2006). But it is something that divides opinion. Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer in an internal memo sent in February 2013 ruled that staff could no longer work from home. She stated that:
“Some of the best decision and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.”
A study at a Chinese call centre concluded that home working lead to a 13% performance increase, increased job satisfaction and decreased turnover. After the study the participants were given the option of either continuing to work from home or returning to the office. 50% chose to return to the office.
Whatever your opinion is on teleworking the truth is that not every job, or every person is suitable for working from home. Here are some of our tips to make sure that homeworking works for you:
Create a great working space
If you are going to be working from home you need the space in which to do it. The space needs to be practical. This includes having a space that you can use which is away from your family, or the people that you share your home with. Home working doesn’t only impact on you, it impacts on the people that you share your life with. Is that space ergonomic – does it enable you to work comfortably and safely? Is there somewhere you can lock away expensive equipment or sensitive material?
If you are going to be working from home on a regular basis, carve out a space that works for you.
Get the technology
Working from home requires an adequate broadband and the technology to help you to do the job. This might not only include a computer and mobile phone (supplied by your employer and preferably for work use only), but the software to help you access shared networks and internal systems.
You might want to check that your employer’s insurance covers your work technology for home working.
Set your hours and keep to them
If your employer sets your hours then ensure you are available during those times. If your hours of work are more flexible set the hours that you are going to be working and let other people know when you will be available. Working more hours than you need to do does not make you more effective (just less focused), and working less hours than you are contracted for will be noticed by your employer.
If you work from home several days a week or more then communicate, communicate, communicate. To counteract the argument that home working leads to a fragmented workforce make sure that you communicate with your colleagues and your clients. Use opportunities to meet and interact with them. Not just virtually, but in the flesh. Don’t allow yourself to become an invisible cog in the corporate wheel.
Learn to self-motivate
Read our blog on the art of self-motivation. In the blog we talk about creating routines and to-do lists, the need to keep positive and to minimise distractions.
Put your commute to good use
On the days that you are working from home your commute is likely to consist at its furthest you falling out of bed and staggering down the stairs. Calculate how much time you are saving by not having to travel to the office and put that time to good use. Think about a daily meditation practice, taking the time to exercise, or to make homemade dinners. Anything that appeals to you and that contributes to your health and wellbeing.
Keep home life and working life separate
And finally, separate your home life from your working life. Just because you are working from home does not mean that you need to be spending 24 hours a day 7 days a week thinking about work. Make sure that the paraphernalia of working life can be hidden away when you are not working, ensure that your work email and telephone are different to your personal ones. If you get work posted to you arrange for it to be kept at work when you are on leave so that you don’t have a constant reminder of work dropping through you front door.
It is equally important to ensure that you home life does not impact on your work. Let your friends know that just because you are at home it does not mean that you are available for impromptu coffee and a chat. Make sure that you don’t try and complete house hold chores during working hours, they really will distract you. And if you have conference calls or telephone calls booked in hang up a sign on your front door telling people that you will not be available to answer the door and politely requesting that they don’t ring the bell.
Home working can result in a more productive, engaged workforce. But it isn’t for everyone. Spend time thinking through the consequences of home working before you start, and ensure that you have a physical and mental space carved out to help you to be as effective and focused as possible.2 People recommend this post