Telecommuting from home grants convenience for the worker while offering money savings for the company. In fact, the number of people telecommuting in the U.S. increased a whopping 115 percent in the last 10 years, according to WorkFlexibility.org If you’re interested in joining this trend, here are a few tips for remaining productive while still balancing your life and work.
Make a space
To maintain work-life balance, you want to divide your office tasks from personal activities. Doing that effectively requires creating a separate space that you use exclusively for telecommuting, preferably one you can close off. If it’s the corner of a room, define it with a free-standing divider. A walk-in closet or entire room is ideal but only if you don’t mix family stuff in the same space.
You need all the facilities that you have at work. Furnish your space with a comfortable desk and chair or perhaps a standing desk, adequate lighting and storage, and necessary technology like a computer, a fast Internet connection, and a multi-purpose machine that works as a printer, scanner, copier, and fax.
Signal to family, neighbors, and friends that you’re at work by keeping a regular work schedule and avoiding distractions. Otherwise, people may stop in for a chat just because you’re at home. Shut your space off from the world by closing the door and/or putting up a Do Not Disturb sign.
Turn off the ringer on your home landline and personal cell phone so unnecessary calls go to voice mail. If you can’t afford a phone line or separate cell phone just for your business, leave your personal phone ringer on but adjust the tone so it sounds different when calls come from the office. You can then answer such calls during business hours.
Dress for the part.
As comfortable as it is for you to work at home wearing just a robe or underwear, those outfits communicate that telecommuting is a relaxed affair that you don’t take seriously. Put yourself in a business frame of mind by dressing as you would for the office. It also helps you separate your work from personal life if you dress differently for each.
Avoid personal appointments.
It may be convenient to go to the doctor, visit the dentist, or have a plumber fix your faucet in the middle of the day. But you wouldn’t do that at the office, so why start at home? Avoid personal appointments during your business hours at home because they’ll only interfere with your work day.
Work at annexes.
Working at home can be lonely since you don’t have your colleagues around you. To counter this sense of isolation, look for annexes outside your house where you can bring your work. A coffee shop with good Internet access is an excellent choice but so is your local library branch or a lounge at a nearby college or university. Just be careful about using private logins or dealing with confidential business on public wifi.
If your smart phone has a good data plan that your laptop can use, that type of access offers greater security.
Keep careful expense records.
Your company may be reimbursing you for telecommuting expenses. Or you may want to claim home office expenses as tax deductions, which requires you to follow specific rules. In either case, keep careful records of what you spend for business and save all receipts to document your amounts. Having separate credit cards, checking accounts, and banking accounts that you use exclusively for business can make this documentation easier.
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