How to Come Across More Professional when Working From Home
Do you know what’s tempting when you work from home? Acting like you’re not working at all, that’s what. Hey, it’s not like you turned part of your house into your office just to be another clock-punching 9-to-5 employee, right?
No matter where you work, you still owe it to your clients and/or bosses to be professional. When you start to work from home, you develop the desire to be more professional and to put things in order. After all, being professional gives you an advantage over equally-skilled – if not more skilled – competitors. Professionalism is, after all, the number one personality trait employers seek in new hires.
If the link above convinced you to ditch your “Ms. Pajamas” image, here are the steps you can take to become “Ms. Professional.”
Carve Out a Space Specifically for Work
I wrote about this in detail here. Basically, find a place where you can work:
- Without distractions;
- With good lighting and temperature; and
- With enough space for your equipment and supplies.
Your workspace doesn’t have to be as fancy, or as sterile, as a typical Fortune 500 office. As long as it helps you establish psychological boundaries between “work” and “home,” it’s not a problem.
Set Working Hours – and Stick to Them
One disadvantage of working from home is this: People assume you’re available 24/7. “Hey, can you please churn out that 10,000-word report while doing the laundry?”
Of course you can’t.
If you decide to work from 9 AM to 1 PM only, let your boss know. Otherwise, he or she might nag you about revisions and such – even when you’re about to go to sleep.
Dress for the Job
Yes, pajamas are more comfy. But if they’re too comfy, they might relax you to the point that you fall asleep in the middle of work. Also, if you’re about to meet with clients over a video conference, your disheveled appearance might put them off.
Try wearing clean, well-ironed and conservative shirts instead. If you just got up from bed, remember to wash your face, wear just enough makeup to conceal blemishes and such, and comb your hair. You don’t have to look like a stereotypical “professional woman” but you should be presentable, at least.
To help you work at your best, install universal productivity apps on your desktop PC or mobile device. If you have regular online “meetings” with clients and bosses, ask them to install a video conferencing system, where you can interact with each other as though there’s no virtual barrier between you.
Also, try to clean up the wall behind you. The last thing you want is for your boss to notice an embarrassing picture or poster in your home office.
Inform Clients/Bosses of Your Time off in Advance
Obviously, you can’t work all the time. Sometimes, you need to file a leave for emergencies, sickness and other reasons. Your clients and/or bosses understand this – as long as you inform them about the fact ahead of time.
If you can’t give them an advance notice for any reason (e.g. you suddenly had a car accident), be sure to produce some sort of “proof of absence” once you get back to work. Also, give them a sincere apology for your absence, and offer to make up for lost time in some way.
Go Above and Beyond with Customer Service
Ever wonder why professionalism is the number one quality employers want, rather than competence? It’s not because they don’t like competent people. It’s because talented workers who are also respectful are much rarer than just talented workers.
Remember that your clients and bosses are human beings, too. Apple At Home Advisors are a good example of this. They want someone who can do the job, yes, but they also appreciate it if that someone:
- Offers concrete, well-thought out solutions for problems;
- Sets reasonable timeframes for work, and sticks to them;
- Calmly argues with facts, rather than emotions, when defending their position in a conflict;
- Is polite and respectful, no matter how bad things get; and
- Doesn’t do the job just for the heck of it.
Being professional isn’t about being a yes woman. It’s about doing your job to the best of your ability, while taking good care of yourself and your clients at the same time. That may sound like an overly simplistic way of looking at it, but it’s the simple things that usually make all the difference in the world.
Also, remember to have fun on the job. That’s the main reason you have a work-from-home arrangement, right?
DO you work from home? Share your tips and experiences with us below!
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