Working from home: Just a joy or the smart way to do business?

So I have heard a lot this week about New Yorkers working from home following Sandy. Perhaps it will encourage more people to use this fantastically productive mode of working.

Well let’s get past the whole – you can work in your pjs and sip fresh coffee whilst hanging up washing in your ‘break’. Here in for me lies the crux of it for both boss and employee (or freelancer ): this is about being organised and focused. Few distractions and lots of potential for smart working.

So some things to help you:

Get-up

Try to keep to a working day, whatever that is for you. Don’t be tempted to press snooze on the alarm too many times. You will lose the momentum of the day which is worth more than time in some cases.

Plan it

Take advantage of a self-focused day for optimum efficiency. By all means take breaks but schedule them in. The washing can indeed wait until one of those.

Avoid mixing business and pleasure

Don’t have friend over for lunch or coffee – you are working and need to keep boundaries. They won’t necessarily be aware of the demands on your time and it is hard to make people leave.

Have an office

Even if it is your kitchen table for the day or a month, have an office. This is somewhere you go and come back to. Make calls from there, make notes, make money. At the end of the day pack up and keep tidy. Respect the space.

Communicate with the office and your clients

Just because you are at home does not mean you are away from work. People need to reach you receive the same professional communication. Keep your phone near and your email open.

Keep a log

Note down what you do and how long it takes. Irritated office-devoted colleagues may ask you ‘what you did all day’. More productively for you and them is a little self-evaluation – did you work better that day or not? Working remotely is not for everyone.

It is not childcare

It is exceptionally difficult to mix childcare and working from home. In fact most employers frown upon it for good reason. Divided loyalty is not a productive situation. If you have no choice then try to establish some schedule for you and your little ones that ensures the work gets done in sensible portions.

Mix it up

If you are a permanent home worker, for whatever reason.  Get out. Talk to colleagues and associates. Don’t get cabin fever or lose perspective.

At the end of the day. No one will know if you are in your pjs when you land the biggest contract of your career to date.* Because at the end it is about what you do and the energy you bring to it. Not where you are. So make the most of a new age of zero-carbon communing, remote-offices, kitchen-table businesses and turn on the kettle for a good days work

*The exception to this is video conferencing – please remove cats, guitar playing husbands and pjs from the office at this point. Experience speaking my friends.

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