As many of you know, I have just recently left a secure job with a successful Canadian company to try my hand at working from home. This was not a decision that was made lightly. Having been with the company for close to 18 years, I had a steady pay cheque, a great benefits package, 4 weeks of holidays each year and I was given a fair amount of freedom. So why would I leave, you ask? There were many reasons but one of the big ones was that I wanted to work from home.
6 things to consider when working from home:
1. Do you like working alone?
Whether you get along with your co-workers or not, they are living, breathing people that you interact with. When working from home, depending on what your career choice is, there may be days where you may not see anyone. You may have some interaction on the phone or over the internet, but for the most part, it’s you, yourself and more of you. So you want make sure you are good with your own company. Make sure you get connected with other business owners, organizations and peers in your community. And make time to get out of the house. Go for coffee, meet a business prospect or supplier for lunch, get some exercise. If you have a laptop, choose a different location once in a while – library, internet cafe.
2. Do you have access to resources?
When you work for a company, often you have access to a phone, computer, printer, server and, in some cases, an IT department should any of those things break down. When thinking about working from home, make sure you have the resources you need. If you can’t afford them in the beginning, hook up with your local library or print shop to help you bridge the gap. Or build relationships with other professionals that you can either pay or barter for their services.
3. What does your work space and routine look like?
I find it best to have a completely separate area that I use for my office and to get ready for work just as I did when I commuted. It’s good for your mental state and has some tax advantages which I’ll talk about in a future blog. I also feel it is important to dress for work. People often comment when they visit in the middle of a work day that I am dressed as if I was at the office. I didn’t work in my pajamas before, why would I now? I love going to work – even if it is just down the stairs to my office. Even my husband seldom visits my office. It’s my work space and it’s made for work. I still work a loose 40 hour week, with lunch breaks and a walk break. If I have to work in the evening or weekend, I loosen up a bit and work in the living room or kitchen.
4. Set boundaries and practice discipline
Set your work apart from your personal – not only for yourself, but for your friends and family. When I worked for a company I might meet a friend for lunch on occasion – but for the most part, I saved my personal time for after work and weekends. When working from home make sure to still practice this and let your friends and family know what your work commitments are. If you want to loosen up your schedule a bit an socialize during work hours, then make up the time within 24 hours – otherwise it will start to become a habit.
5. Think of yourself as your own client
If you are also building your own business from home, treat your business needs as you would a clients. Avoid the urge to put building your business on the back burner. Don’t wait for your projects to dry up before you work on promoting your business. Schedule time in for business building every day, or set aside a few hours in your week to sharpen your image and prospect clients. Each morning I write down my days agenda and I almost always include time to build my own business.
6. Enjoy the perks
You wanted to work from home for a reason. Maybe to be more available for a child, an aging parent, a spouse. Possibly your commute was eating up too much of your day. Now that you work from home – take advantage of the freedom it gives you. Practice balance in your new life. Make sure you don’t end up locked in your office feeling like you have to work from morning to night. Go for midday walks, have a chat on the phone, go to the market at lunch instead of lining up with everyone else at the grocery store after work. Breathe. And…if you get behind – alas, your office will be waiting for you – at home.