Working from home seems ideal. You can wake up late, avoid the horrors of a rush hour commute, and avoid running into annoying coworkers in the kitchen. While working from home — even part time — is becoming an upward trend (even for those fully employed by a company that has offices), there are five things you must do if you work from home.
Find a quiet, comfortable place to work
Not everyone is sold on the idea of a home office, if only because there may be no space in the house to set up camp for eight hours a day, or because there are other distractions at home that can prevent you from getting work done. Working from home can actually be more productive than being at an office due to less distractions (read: your boss), but noisy neighbor kids can easily turn what should be a productive afternoon into a migraine. Consider heading to the local library, a quiet coffee shop, or even joining a cowering space that facilitates an environment where you can actually work.
Keep a routine
Heading to the office every morning, Monday through Friday, lends toward a very routine lifestyle. Each day, you know what to expect, and know what can get done — both at the office and afterwards. Without anyone to watch you walk into the office at exactly 8 am every day, you may be inclined to sleep in, go to bed late, or take naps when you should be working. Treating your office — wherever you find it — like a real office can help you stay on schedule and focused.
Don’t become anti-social
Working at home can alleviate the stress of annoying coworkers, but it also means you have no one to work with throughout the day. Consider Skyping with other coworkers throughout the day to stay in touch and prevent an onset of loneliness. Also, be sure to keep a normal social life outside of working hours. Even though you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you need to dedicate yourself to work every waking hour. Join a gym, meet friends for happy hour, and make time for your family. The friends and family in your life will keep you energized and motivated to keep working even when you’re alone during the rest of the day.
Take care of yourself
A comic from The Oatmeal highlights what can happen when you work at home — and does happen to many of us, at least once in a while. Taking care of yourself is a huge contributor to your sanity and motivation. Eating well, getting exercise, and showering regularly can keep you from getting too ill (physically or mentally) from doing your job at home. Use your evenings and weekends to go grocery shopping so you can prepare healthy meals at home. Hitting the drive through in the middle of the afternoon because you forgot to eat yet still have work to do will not benefit your health and will likely lead to a decreased quality in your work.
Even if you work for yourself, communicating with those you work with is critical for staying on the same page and helping the company meet goals. Here at LockerGnome, we use an app called Partychat to create a chat room that can be used with our existing Google Accounts. Yammer is another good option, but Partychat works with whatever chat service each Google user prefers, whether it’s Gmail, Adium, Google Talk, or Pidgin. We also like to chat via Skype a few times a day to touch base and conference with each other. While working in an office lends itself to being able to run into your manager’s office to clarify a question or get help with a project, maintaining this same style of communication, albeit virtually, is critical for making sure the job still gets done — even though you may be working from your couch in sweats.
Do you work from home? What are your tips for maintaining success and sanity? Let us know in the comments.