The DOs and DO NOTs of Working from Home

bunnyslippers-workI work from home. When I tell people this I am met with a mix of “that must be really awesome” and “wow, that would totally suck. I’d never get anything done.”

I get it. Working from home in yoga pants and bunny slippers seems insanely cool! And it totally is. I roll out of bed, grab my coffee and plop down in front of my PC ready to tackle my work day. I don’t have to get up early. I don’t have to commute. I don’t even have to get dressed. I’m winning!

It’s true, I am more productive, I have fewer interruptions and my schedule is flexible when I need it to be. But working from home can totally suck. It can be isolating, there isn’t the same comradery with colleagues, it can be challenging to develop relationships with new people within the organization, and one can easily become a cave-dwelling hermit.

Aside from the minimum requirements for working from home (internet, phone, computer, webcam, access to the technology to do your job) here are my DO’s and DO NOTs for virtual employees:

DO

  • Establish set work hours. Early bird? Get after it as early as you like! Not a morning person? Ease into the morning with silence and a later start time. Either way, having a consistent work schedule helps you AND your team.
  • Create a quiet, dedicated work space. This should be a place free from, or with minimal, distractions and preferably with a door so you can close it when household noise or distractions creep up.
  • Socialize. Use social media (Skype, Yammer, Twitter, Lync, etc.) in the same way that you would communicate casually in an office setting. Say hi, send a word of encouragement, ask about family, or vacation, or arrange for a lunch get together.  Fostering relationships at work is an important part of team building and developing trust in the virtual work space.
  • Create an environment of trust. Build trust within the team by being reliable, consistent, and responsive.
  • Be professional. In our technologically driven world it’s easy to be brash behind a screen and keyboard. You work from home. You are NOT anonymous. Angry outbursts, foul language, and being impolite are unacceptable.
  • Participate to the extent you are able. If you live close to an onsite office make a point to participate in all hands/staff meetings and/or team building activities in person. If you aren’t able to be there in person ask if you can participate via webcam or via a virtual event room.
  • Arrange for childcare. You have work to do. Your kid(s) would like attention and/or entertainment. Childcare, in home or otherwise, is a must.

DO NOT

  • Let your verbal social skills lapse. Sure it’s tempting to communicate in grunts and snorts but it’s a no-no in today’s modern society. This is especially important for the work-from-homers who infrequently communicate verbally with colleagues and clients.
  • Turn into a cave-dwelling hermit. Go out! Get some fresh air! It’s important to maintain a social life and do something that gets you out of the house on a daily basis.
  • Let work take over your life. I know, easier said than done. Home-work-life balance is even more important when you work from home. It’s important to maintain a consistent work schedule for the reasons stated in the 1st DO above but you also need to disconnect from work and have down time.
  • Keep a work-from-home position if you are miserable. Talk to your supervisor and determine what changes can be made.

As with any profession, be it snake milking or professional whistling, working from home is not for everyone. Know your limits. If you cannot adhere to the majority of the DO’s above it may be appropriate for you to return to the cube-farm from whence you came. Whether you work from home or work in an office, it’s important that you feel productive, connected, supported so choose the environment that’s best for you.

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SydneyEgglestonSydney is a Digital Event Producer and Jill-of-all trades. She is a lover of all things cute and/or tiny, coffee, sarcasm, and virtual hoarding (aka Pinterest). Some people may call her a rock-star. Connect with her on LinkedIn.