Lessons Learned About Working From Home

I started working from home after my first daughter was born. I would work 3 days in the office and 2 days from home. To me, this was the best of all solutions.

This was many years ago. At the time, telecommuting was in its infancy. Few companies had allowed it and I was lucky to have an excellent manager, who saw the benefits of offering this work-life balance solution. Being one of the first telecommuters at Standard and Poor’s, I didn’t know what to expect. To me, it was just going to make it easier to balance motherhood with work.

What I didn’t know at the time is that there were going to be challenges that I would have to either overcome or learn to live with, and although working from home has become much more common these days, the same challenges remain. So before you start working from home, keep the following in mind:

Building Trust You need to create an environment of trust. There are some managers, subordinates, and/or coworkers who may accuse you of not working when you are home. To create an environment of trust you need to be present and available. It is important to be fully present when working from home because it is important to make sure everyone knows you are working. As soon as you take a little too long to respond to someone’s email or phone call, there will be doubt as to whether or not you are working. And it doesn’t matter how progressive a company you may work for, someone will always make a comment when this happens.

Living Where You Work Literally. Your work life and your home life now exist in the same space. You actually need to carve out space and time for each or you end up working all the time. It’s also a good idea to set some other boundaries to let others in the house know if you are writing or on a call. Even the simple act of closing an office door, telling everyone you are about to go on a call, or posting a note outside of your office will let family members know not to interrupt while you are working.

Being Out of Sight When people don’t see you, they will forget to include you or may try to work around you. This is not as big an issue as it had been in the past for 2 reasons: (1) more people work from home and (2) videoconferencing is easily accessible. Still, you need to make sure you are aware of what is happening at the office on the days you are home. Make yourself present, even when you are not there. This is easily done by constant communication with different people in the office.

Socializing Less When you work from home you sacrifice socializing with your co-workers. Socializing with coworkers builds trust and camaraderie and is a big part of becoming successful at work. On the days you are in the office, make sure to socialize.

Working from home can be an effective way of managing your life if done well. There will always be people who are not trusting or take advantage of the fact that you aren’t there. In the end, increasing the amount of communication, maintaining constant contact with all co-workers (managers, subordinates, and peers), and meeting or exceeding your deadlines will help you to avoid most issues that can arise when working from home.

(Photo Credits: Pixabay )

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