Working from Home, as an Employee
Except for four months in 2007 (the most miserable four months of my life), I’ve worked from home at every job I’ve had since 1999. It is simply the way I work, and I can’t imagine going to an office every day. Still, I know that it is not the norm, and a lot of people are struggling right now with being forced to work at home due to the coronavirus outbreak. So here are 3 pro tips on how to be most effective as an employee working from home.
1. Separate work time from personal time. The biggest downside of working from home is that the line between work and home begins to blur. I always encourage people who are just starting to work from home to stick to a routine – set a start time and an end time, and stick to it, at least at first. If you don’t, you’ll feel like you are working 24/7, and you’ll long for the clear separation of a commute to start and stop work. As you gain experience working from home, it becomes easier to keep things separate without a dedicated time.
2. Try to keep it quiet when on the phone, but don’t sweat it if something happens. You need a quiet place to work, particularly when on the phone. Having a lockable door helps, especially if you have kids. But life doesn’t always match up with your work calendar. There have been many times I have been on the phone when the doorbell rang and my dogs went nuts, or when my kids decided to have a random screaming match, or when the plumber showed up early. In each case, I just told the person on the phone that I was working from home, asked them to hold on for a minute, handled the issue, and then finished the call as normal. People understand (especially in the current environment). I promise. Things happen. It’s fine.
3. If someone else is at home while you are working, have a do-not-disturb signal. If you have a door to the room where you are working, that’s easy. Just make it so that everyone knows door closed = don’t bother me, and door open = come on in. But what if there is no door, or if you have to keep the door open for other reasons? Hang a flag, turn a paperweight sideways, or whatever creative thing you can imagine. Just do *something* to keep people from bothering you when you need to work without interruptions. If you don’t, your productivity will go down.
Neal Shaw CEO, SOS Inventory (Saddle Oak Software)