5 Rules for Working at Home

April 23 2014

Julia Richardson By Julia Richardson – Working from home is easy for some and challenging for others. Your success is dependent upon setting up rules and parameters so your boss doesn’t fire you. For those that are stuck in an office all day, the ability to work from home may seem like a dream come true. After all, you set your own dress code and work from home location. But it is worthwhile to follow the rules for working at home.

For the employer, your working from home can translate to reduced overhead and a lower carbon footprint. It also allows for broader reach in terms of talented individuals qualified for the position.

Unfortunately, working from home may not be ideal for you, especially if you are someone who thrives on office interactions and socialization. Working from home can also decrease your visibility within the company and lead to you being overlooked and feeling undervalued.

rules for working at home

If you are thinking about working from home, but aren’t sure whether or not is the right career move for you, here are 5 rules for working at home to evaluate.

1.    Be organized
Whether or not you are organized is an important factor to consider. This does not pertain only to things, but to your ability to organize and manage tasks and time. If you are not able to maintain order, working for home may be more challenging than it’s worth. Lack of time management skills could translate to missed deadlines and lost opportunities (or worse, termination).

2.   Be motivated
Some people are intrinsically motivated, while others seek extrinsic validation. If the latter best describes you, working from home may be problematic. You won’t be physically visible in the office and, in turn, may not get the same daily recognition you need. This does not mean you are not doing a good job, but you may begin to doubt yourself and become resentful and unhappy.

3.    Be outgoing
Some people thrive on social interaction, while others are quite content to work alone. Working from home means that instead of spending most of every day surrounded by your coworkers, you’ll spend most of your time home alone. Sure, there will be conference calls, emails and other forms of communication. This can be damaging to your mental health.

4.    Find dedicated working space at home
Forbes suggests that having a dedicated office space as it creates boundaries. Not only does this physically contain your work related materials for efficiency and organization purposes, but it also serves as a mental marker. Entering your office space signifies to your brain that it’s time to work and limits your distractions (hopefully).  If you share your home with others, this also limits noise and other distractions that may seem unprofessional during conference calls.

5.    Practice written communication skills
If you’re working from home, your verbal communication will be limited when compared to an office setting. This means you’ll need to have excellent written communication skills in order to effectively communicate tasks, problems, instruction, or any other job related duty. You’ll also need to maintain a friendly tone, and brush up on your email etiquette to ensure things aren’t taken in the wrong way (here are some tips).

Working from home is a great opportunity, and one with many benefits. Success, however, depends upon self-awareness. If any of your answers indicate that working from home may be problematic, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it, only that you know of any potential issues ahead of time. Stick to the rules for working at home and you’ll not have problems.

If you aren’t organized, there are apps and planners and tools available to help you stay on task. If you need external validation, set goals for yourself and report to your boss regularly. Brush up on your communication skills, create a designated office space and if you find yourself needing to be around people, take a trip to a local coffee shop and work from there for a bit.

There’s no need for you to pass on the opportunity to work from home, but you do need to be prepared.

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