The home office: for independent consultants, this might be your headquarters. For those with a long commute, working from home might serve as a welcome balance between trekking to the city and staying productive in close quarters. Whatever the reason, working from home is a common practice – but one that requires practice to make perfect.
Here are few tips to make the home office work for you.
Communication is key
For those reporting back to an office base from home, availability and connectivity to your colleagues – as if you actually were in the office – is key.
- Maintain the best possible equipment to stay connected to colleagues and clients. This includes high-speed Internet, office phone, Skype and webcam, and document and email servers consistent with those of your colleagues.
- If you do plan to leave your desk or office for a length of time, ensure that colleagues can reach you by phone and email on a mobile device. The expectation is that you are available during business hours, just as those working in the office are.
- Since you cannot attend in-person meetings, conference calls often take their place. Practice good conference call etiquette: first, always state your name at the beginning of the call, so participants are accounted for. Also, be sure to call from a quiet place, so any daily noises such as lawn mowers or dogs barking do not disrupt the call. If your surroundings do become noisy, mute the phone when you are not speaking so the background noises do not disrupt the conference.
Recipes for productivity
When working from home, you also need the home office to work for you. Everyone has different methods of productivity, but a consistent routine and an organized space can work wonders.
- Schedule the right amount of work time, at the right times. Again, if you do report to an office, it’s essential to be available during its regular business hours. If you are an independent consultant, it still can be helpful to delineate regular blocks of time for work and rest – both to ensure productivity during work hours and to prevent yourself from constantly working.
- Though you are at home, do not include domestic chores into your daily routine. You would never do laundry or clean the closet while in the actual office, so don’t do these tasks during home office hours, either.
- Focus on the elements of your home office space. To begin, completely separate your office from other parts of the house: this will help you both physically and mentally dedicate yourself to your work. Make sure that all family members respect this space and know when they can and cannot disturb you. The décor is up to you, but maintain neatness and a professional design, should you need to host a job-related guest.
If you work from home, how do you make it work for you and your colleagues?
Share your experience, tips and advice for success in the home office!
(And please share this blog post with others!)