How to Work at Home


A visit to the offices of Reynolds Clary and Associates

That’s me at the office. Okay, a virtual office. Notice I’m not working.

Is your work at home environment conducive to work?

Working at home requires balancing comfort, usability, and distractions.

Comfort:

  • Proper chair – sure at work you’re stuck with that 10 year old secretary chair. At home, get a chair that provides support and won’t leave you with numb legs. On the opposite side, a bean bag might be too comfortable.
  • Proper clothing – wear what enables you the best. If that’s jeans and a tee, wear them, if it’s a suit, put it on. I promise I won’t laugh. The key is a bit beyond comfort for clothing. Often clothes are attached to our ‘work mode’.
  • Proper room – give yourself permission to spread out. Unlike in a fixed cube with a fixed desk, at home make that desk your own.

Usability:

  • Lighting – don’t settle for florescent lights. Work where natural light or as close to it as possible is available. Use bright bulbs whenever possible. It’s easier on the eyes and improves the mood influence.
  • Outlets – have a laptop? Make sure wherever you work at home has proper outlets available for the computer, any extra monitor and the lighting. This is often overlooked as work at home folks try to huddle into a corner in the basement or attic.
  • Phone/fax – must haves. If you’re normal office has a fax machine, get one for the house. Got a printer in the cube farm, then buy one for the home office. The same goes for a phone. Make sure your cell phone or home phone is nearby to the work space.
  • Ventilation – oft forgotten.  Proper ventilation isn’t just about comfort. It’s about fresh air cycling through the room. This helps maintain proper levels and freshness of the air.

Distractions:

  • Kids – a must avoid. Best handled by setting up a formal work space. Even if it’s in the kitchen, declare it off limits.
  • Spouse – yes, I know you’re thinking fringe benefits, but for  most couples, having the spouse near is a distraction. They tend to forget you’re actually working and not available for movie watching, house cleaning, or intimacy.  This requires more than setting up a physical work space but a mental one as well. Set a regular schedule of work hours and lunch times.
  • Media – radios, televisions, and music players can take you out of flow as quick as physical interruptions. Noise isn’t the enemy as much as chaos.  If you need the background noise, then go for it, but if you’re prone to jump up and dance to Footloose, then turn the music off or find a station that plays calmer or serious music. Many people, even those not fans of classical works, find that genre conducive to a good work environment.
  • Phone – yes, having a phone is critical. Answering it every time it rings, not so much. Treat it like you would your phone at work. Answer it only if it’s urgent and it won’t break your work flow. PS. Don’t place any calls not related to work.
  • Social networking – see my recent article linked at the bottom.

Don’t discount anything which disrespects your work when preparing to work from home. Whole books could be written just about the physical work space, or the psychology of relationships in the work at home environment.

Go.Prepare.Work.

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