How to work from home
August 14, 2013 § 10 Comments
I realised this morning that I’ve been working from home for nearly 16 years. That makes me an expert, I reckon. So here are some of my thoughts on how to survive if you’re considering doing the same.
1. Work in your pyjamas, just because you can. I get a secret thrill from interviewing someone on the phone, or putting out a very businesslike email while dressed in my Hello Kitty pyjamas with my hair scrunched up on top of my head and my teeth still unbrushed. I feel like I’m thumbing my nose at all the corporate clones. In related news, I need to get out more and find some actual thrills.
2. Never work in your pyjamas. On the days you decide to work in your pyjamas, you can be sure one of the following things will happen: someone will drop in to deliver something to you unexpectedly, your presence will be required at an impromptu meeting or someone will want to Skype you. On video.
3. Read the whole internet before you begin work. Yes, it’s hard to read everything, but you should at least give it a try. Imagine what brilliant ideas, inspiration and time management tips you might miss out if you do? It’s not wasting time – you need that information to make your business or work more successful. And just imagine if you miss the one piece of information that could make you rich and/or famous? The horror!
4. Don’t even open the internet before you begin work. It’s just going to distract you. And if you don’t actually put some of those time management and other tips into practice at some stage, fame and fortune will never be yours. Unless you don’t want fame and fortune, in which case I can’t help you.
5. Make sure you emphasise often how working from home means you get more done in less time. It’s true, you know. There’s no gossiping at the water cooler, far fewer meetings, and no colleagues leaning on your office door frame or perching on your desk to tell you about their latest relationship drama. Those distractions disappear when it’s just you and the four walls.
6. Never expect to get more done at home than you do in an office. Because no-one takes people who work from home as seriously as they should. Children interrupt, friends call for long social chats, and it’s all too tempting to pop out and do all of those household errands your former boss wouldn’t let you do during office hours. And then there’s the internet. (See point 4.)
7. Revel in the fact that you are paid for the work you do. There’s none of the exploitation that goes on in offices when you are just expected to absorb the work of the colleague who leaves and is never replaced. Here, if you do an hour’s work, you’re paid for an hour. If you do two hours of work, you are paid for two. The harder you work, the more you get paid – hurrah!
8. No work, no pay. There’s a flipside to point 7 – if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Working from home means no maternity leave, no sick leave, no paid leave. If you’re going on holiday, the week before you leave and the week after you return will be a complete and utter nightmare. If you’re sick you’ll be taking calls and sending emails from your sickbed, or at your desk coughing over the keyboard. There’s no-one to cover. Also, expect to spend a lot of your time chasing after money. The client who wants something produced in half a day, and begs and pleads you perform a minor miracle will only pay after half a year, and only because you chase them with the single-minded tenacity of a Staffie stalking a squirrel.
9. Delight in your flexible hours. Go to coffee with friends, attend the matinée of your children’s school play, or go to a movie in the middle of the day. This is the joy of working from home. The world is your oyster! You can do your work when it suits you, not when some guy in a suit tells you to do it – as long as you meet your deadlines.
10. Keep regular office hours, and stick to them as far as possible. If you don’t, ‘flexible hours’ will mean working every week night and weekend to catch up, and that is no way to live. Besides, the rest of the world still operates on office hours and you will be expected to be available at its convenience, not yours. That’s the reality, and it bites, baby.
The bottom line? Don’t even consider it unless you have an iron will, enormous self-discipline and the ability to roll with the punches and survive endless feast-and-famine cycles. Learn to turn the alerts off on your phone and computer when you need to focus. Make sure your family and friends understand that you are at work, even though you’re at home. Put all of those time management books you’ve read into practice – you’re going to need them.
And most importantly, invest in a couple of pairs of really chic pyjamas .