What’s it Really Like to Work From Home?
You can already picture it: working in your pajamas, setting your own schedule, deciding to work from coffee shops when you need to get out of the house, taking a spontaneously long lunch because you finished your to-do list early. Working with Netflix or your favorite Spotify station blaring in the background. It’s the dream we all have: to telecommute.
More and more employers are allowing their employees to telecommute for at least part of their work weeks. This is because telecommuting is in everybody’s best interest. You get to forego your commute, wear whatever you want and customize your workspace to your comfort and inspiration levels. Your boss knows that telecommuters are often more productive when they work from home and is able to run her company from smaller sized offices. Everybody wins, right?
Yes and no. For all of the dreaming done before making the jump into telecommuting, few employees are ready for the reality of working from home. With this in mind, we thought today would be a good day to explain some of the realities that exist when you telecommute or work out of your home.
Your Boss Still Keeps Tabs
Sure, your boss may be miles away in her office but she can still keep tabs on you and what you are doing. Many employers these days use system monitors and productivity tracking programs to make sure their employees stay on task when they are working at home. This means that your boss will know if you clock into work and then spend your workday surfing Pinterest. Be prepared to have “big sister” calling you out if you goof off too much.
Even if your job is BYOC, you will likely have to sign some form of agreement to download this software and allow your employers access to it during working hours.
Pajamas Don’t Promote Concentration
Yes, it’s true: the first couple of weeks will be spent in your sweats or pajamas, with a cardigan or button down tossed on during video conferencing. After a little while, though, you’re going to yearn for real clothes. When that happens, go with it! Start putting on regular clothes instead of lounging all day. You’ll be surprised at how much more focused you feel when you have street clothes on. You don’t necessarily have to dress professionally. Even just jeans and hoodies help.
Set Firm Boundaries
As soon as you send word out that you’re going to be telecommuting, the requests for favors are going to flood in. Even in this day and age people seem to think that telecommuting means that you aren’t really working. Suddenly you’re the perfect person to pick up their dry cleaning, or wait at their place to sign for a package or let in the cable person or baby-sit their kids on a moment’s notice. Or, if there aren’t favors, suddenly people will want to drop by for a visit or go out for lunch on a moment’s notice. It’s nice to be needed but if you aren’t careful, those favors will eat up your entire day and you won’t be able to get your actual work done. Set firm boundaries and stick to them.
Create a Dedicated Work Space
Yes, you could feasibly work from your couch or bed and you probably will from time to time. It is better, though, if you set up a space that is dedicated to getting work done. Even if you just put a desk in the corner of your living room, that’s fine. The point is to separate your work space from your living space otherwise they will bleed into each other in confusing and awkward ways.
For some, having a dedicated and quiet workspace is part of the deal. You will have to prove that you have a space that will be free of kids, pets, noise, etc. Don’t try to “fake” this when you’re working. Your employer will know.
Distractions Are Everywhere
This is one of the most difficult adjustments to make when you work from home. Suddenly all you can think about is the laundry that is sitting right there, waiting to be put through the wash. Or you start thinking about how you’ve been meaning to reorganize a closet or learn pilates. It will be tempting to let these tasks get in the way of your work but remember, during working hours, work has to come first. This means no putting a conference call on hold so you can transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer.
Mostly, working at home is very rewarding. It is even more so when you are prepared for the realities of telecommuting. Hopefully this article will help you find your bearings.
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