I’ve worked from home regularly for the past few years and have always enjoyed the perks—no commute time, running errands on my lunch break, being able to work out before or after work close to home…those kinds of things. On the flipside, working from home can be isolating, and hard to manage at first. Over time, I’ve talked to a few of my fellow work-from-home colleagues and have collected a brief list of best practices for any professional working from home.
1. Establish an office
Try to assign a specific area in your home for work. It’s best to have a room or office that you can establish as a work zone—a space where you can set up an ergonomic, comfortable area, and keep some basic supplies and reference materials. It’s also key to establish an “office” in a space that you don’t use for other things, so that at the end of your workday you can shut off the job and get to your personal life. Otherwise, your work day could bleed into your home life. It’s important to have a place for work that you can walk away from.
2. Be sure your communication lines are impeccable
You are working from home, but you need to communicate with the outside world at times. Two basic communication areas should be addressed:
- Phone: All phone calls for customers, your coworkers, and your boss need to be top notch. I recommend a hands-free device with a great microphone and great reception. Be sure your phone has a mute option—you never know when you may need it! Also, a conference line is a wonderful way to connect with more than two people, and Skype—or other similar application or software—is a great way to connect via video.
- Computer: Make sure your internet connection is strong. You don’t want to increase your time to do things based on poor connectivity.
3. Create a sound- and distraction-free environment
Set up your office in a pet-free area, or at least an area where you can close your door from outside noises. This includes doorbells, spouses, sirens, etc.
4. Keep up your work relationships
Working from home helps you get a ton of work done, but it can also be isolating, personally and professionally, if you don’t manage it well. Keep up relationships by regularly checking in with colleagues. And be sure to keep in touch with your manager through meetings or check-ins to provide updates on your work and get feedback. Sending emails and Instant Messages can also help you maintain your personal relationships.
Working from home takes some practice. But if you enter your work from home experience with focused intentions, it’s possible to support an organization and also maintain a healthy work-life balance.