Back to home page click here
HOW TO WORK AT HOME
Wouldn't you prefer to work from home?
- First of all, recognise that this may not be as easy as you thought. Some of us have spent decades travelling to a particular place of work and interacting with a particular group of colleagues; working at home is very different.
- When you're working from home, you don't have to be up and at work at a particular time, but you're more likely to be productive if you have a reasonably standard routine for when you 'hit the desk'.
- If you're not going to be seeing anyone all day, it may be tempting to sit around in pyjamas and it won't be necessary to shave or put on make-up, but you're more likely to be in work mode if you've washed and dressed and look reasonably presentable.
- Create a physical space that is exclusively or mainly for work. Then, when you leave or close the door on that space, it will be easier to 'cut off' from work and relax.
- Ensure that this work space has all that you need. There will be many physical and technical needs - heating, lighting, ventilation, desk, computer, chair, telephone, printer and so on. However, there may be more personal needs - for instance, flowers, pot pourri, or music.
- Be attentive to health & safety issues while working at home. If you're using a computer, be sure to have an ergonomically-correct set up. Don't ignore the dangers of repetitive stress injury or other workplace-related illnesses that are particular concerns of home workers.
- Obtain professional advice about what costs you can claim as legitimate expenses for the purposes of tax relief. This will be depend crucially on whether you are an employee or self-employed.
- Join the appropriate trade union. The union will be able to advise you on health & safety, employment law and tax issues and, if you are an employee, protect you in the event of unfair treatment by your company. Participate in union activities, including activities online like discussion forums, chat rooms, and online campaigns.
- Appreciate that, in the absence of a line manager and a work routine, sometimes it may be difficult to movitate yourself. So ensure that you have a routine such as daily and weekly work plans.
- When you work from home (especially if you're alone), you need a clear relationship with food. On the one hand, it's not a good idea to work solidly throughout the day, never stopping for lunch - you need a break and sustenance. On the other hand, it's not sensible to be constantly picking at food because it's there - this is not good for your concentration or your health.
- Make judicious use of voicemail. Nobody is always available and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you must be, simply because you are working from home. In the office, we have no compunction about not being available at times, whereas at home there is a tendency to think that we should be constantly available. Sometimes you need to switch everything off and concentrate for a few hours on reading or writing a report.
- Similarly. recognise that working at home does not mean that you have actually to be at home every minute of every working day, You may want to do some local shopping or go to the gym or attend the dentist. That's fine - just have your mobile with you so that you're always contactable by colleagues.
- Each day, leave the house for a while - if possible, go for a short walk; at the least, stroll round the garden. One way of encouraging this might be to have a dog. The exercise and fresh air will do you good physicaly and mentally.
- Have professional lifelines. For instance, if you work for yourself, you can't call on the company's IT department, but it's probably essential that your PC and Internet connection are working well at all times, so you need the number of a good, local IT support person/company.
- Develop social lifelines. If you're angry or upset, you need someone to whom you can talk. If you're unsure about a project, you need someone that you can bounce ideas off. So arrange that there are a few relatives/friends/colleagues that you can telephone to 'dump' on emotionally or engage with intellectually.
- If you haven't been into the office for some time, arrange to see your boss or client or colleagues for a chat - you need to remain visible and in touch.
- If you haven't been to an external event for some time, find a relevant conference or seminar that you can attend - you need to network.
- Finally, don't feel guilty. Caroline Waters, BT's Head of People Networks, told the "Financial Times" that homeworkers are on average 20% more productive than office-based colleagues, saving the company more than £6 million a year - so, if you are an employee, you're doing the company (as well as yourself) a favour. You are fortunate to be working at home, but you've worked this out and many others could do so if they wanted. You may not have achieved all that you wanted to do that day, but being physically present and visible at an office each day does not of itself make someone productive. Ultimately the people you're working for don't care when or where you work - it's the timing and quality of what you deliver that matters.
Working from home ...
Last modified on 17 October 2005
If you have some ideas of your own e-mail me
To access all my advice on life skills click here
Back to home page click here