Working from home might seem like the ultimate job to have. No set start time or commuting or making up time for that day you were late.
No smart clothes or set holiday allowance or horrible boss peeping over your shoulder to check up on you.
But is this really what working from home is all about? Is this really the right way to think of it?
Read on for the Do’s and Don’ts of working from home
-Do make sure your working space is separate from the rest of the house
It’s very tempting to just work from wherever’s most comfortable. Maybe plonked in front of the TV or on a sunbed in the garden when it’s hot (rare as this may be in England). But working in such places should be avoided!
You need a clearly defined space within your home that you can walk away from at the end of your working day.
You don’t want to leave papers lying around in the living room to spot just before you sit down to watch a movie or in the kitchen to glance over whilst cooking your dinner.
You need to create a professional office environment in which all work related documents can be kept.
-Do have set working hours (and stick to them!)
If you decide your working hours are from 9:00 – 17:00; then make sure you up and ready in time to work from 9:00.
You don’t want to get into a habit of turning the alarm off just because you don’t have a boss checking what time you clock in.
-Do take a proper lunch break
Just because you have work coming out of your ears, you should still make time for a proper lunch break.
Allow yourself to chill out in this time and do something you enjoy. Maybe read a book or browse the web.
-Do get organised
Develop a system of filing that works for you. Label your ring binders, create folders on your desktop and maybe invest in online organisation systems. You need to ensure everything has a place so you can find things quickly and easily.
-Do find time for yourself…
…that doesn’t involve your work.
When you commute to a job, you have time in which you have to be away from your desk.
You should try and replace the ‘commute’ with an activity e.g. go for a walk each morning in place of the drive to work, sit and read a magazine for 20 minutes or go and sit in a park for half hour or so.
-Do wear ‘work’ clothes
Wearing smart clothes is sure to make you feel more productive and ready for the working day ahead. It may be tempting to throw on your onesie in the morning, but is that really going to get you in the mood to do a day’s work?
-Do take care of your health
It may be more comfortable to recline your chair back and put the keyboard on your lap, but in the long run, this could have a negative impact on your health.
You should carry out a VDU Health & Safety Risk Assessment before you ‘move in’ to your new office.
-Do answer the telephone in a professional manner
If you’re using your personal mobile or home phone number as your business contact number, make sure you always answer it professionally.
Don’t assume it’s going to be your mate just because they said they’d call you around lunch time. It’s not going to make a good first impression if you answer a potential client with ‘whatsuppp?’ or ‘alright mate? How’s it going?’
You will also need to ensure anybody else in your house (if using your home number) is polite in their telephone response. If you have children, maybe tell them they are not to answer the telephone during office hours.
Alternatively (and probably a better option) is to have a separate phone for your business.
-Don’t forget about the other things in your life
Just because you work from home now, you shouldn’t spend every minute of every day doing so. You need to strike a balance between work, family and friends.
-Don’t give in to the temptation of Facebook (or PS3, Xbox…)
Yes, they may only be sitting next door from your office and yes, you may only have one level left to complete, but don’t give in to that temptation.
You wouldn’t be able to if you were working for somebody else in their office, so remind yourself – you’re at home to work and you can do your own thing only when you’ve done your days work.
-Don’t let your friends pop round
Now you’re working from home, your friends may think they can pop in and out as they please. But remind them of your working hours and tell them they need to respect your new role working from home.
By all means meet them for a drink on your lunch break, but don’t let your 1 hour break run into 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours…
-Don’t take/make personal calls during working hours
Make sure your family and friends know they cannot call you during working hours, unless it’s something important.
-Don’t forget to take a break
Staring at a computer screen all day is tiring and not good for your health.
Make sure you get up and give yourself time away from the screen every hour or so.
-Don’t feel alone/cooped up
Not working with colleagues can lead to you feeling alone; whilst working within the same fours walls as you live can lead to that that ‘cabin fever’ feeling.
To avoid feeling this way; attend networking events, get yourself a support group of other freelancers and leave the house during your lunch break to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Or maybe consider taking your laptop to WiFi hotspots at cafes or public areas.