Working from home is becoming increasingly common. There are many advantages to it, and employers are growing accustomed to it.
Working from home can also be an ideal solution when setting up a business as it is often cheap, convenient and easy.
However there are some dangers, and so to make working from home as successful as possible, enjoying the benefits rather than the disadvantages, it is best to set in place some ground rules. These have been gained by many people over the years who have worked from home.
Reasons for working from home
There are many reasons for working from home, but in general, the type of working from home can fall into one of two main categories.
Working from home as an employee: It is becoming increasingly popular for employers to ask their employees to work from home. It saves the time of the commute, and also it can mean that the employer does not have to provide so many desks, floor space and the like. By hot-desking when people need to come in, the best use can be made of the facilities and costs can be cut.
Also for sales people, they can live in the area they serve, work from home when needed and not have to travel to the main office all the time.
Working from home for your small business: When setting up your own business, working from home can have a huge attraction, dependent upon the type of business. It can mean that other promises are not needed, at least initially, and this can help the business get off the ground without lumbering it with too many additional costs.
Even later, if the business remains small, and it does not require huge amounts of plant for manufacturing, etc, it could still remain in the home, and possibly outworkers in their own homes could be used if additional staff are needed.
Working from home habits
When looking at whether and how to work from home, there are a few useful pointers in terms of the ways or working and habits that can make the difference between it being a success or a failure.
Most of these guidelines are relatively straightforward and common sense, but sticking to them can make it is much better experience, for you and the whole family.
Don't delay getting started: It can be very easy to start late and let the morning drift away. One of the best strategies is to get started with your work as soon as possible. Yes have breakfast and get properly dressed, but don't delay getting to work otherwise motivation can drift away.
Pretend you are actually going to the office to work: It can appear to be very tempting to take a relaxed view about going to work in the office in your home, but it is necessary to take it seriously. Get dressed as if you are going to an office with others in it . . . well may be not a suit. But overall don't feel too relaxed, otherwise the motivation, creativity, and zeal will all melt away.
Establish boundaries: It is good to establish boundaries, both in terms of physical space and time.
In terms of the physical space it helps to have a dedicated room as the office. This helps to stop work spilling over into the house. If there isn't a dedicated office, then try to keep things in their place.
It also helps to set time boundaries as well. If not, then there can be a temptation to work all the time and this can affect personal relationships and your wellbeing. Try to set a start and end time, and then shut up the office and enjoy time outside work time.
Get out and about: It helps your mental health and general wellbeing to make sure you get out and about and get some exercise. It can be very tempting on a busy day when working from home to stay in the office to get the work done. However a break, some exercise and getting out will help freshen you up and give a fresh perspective to any issues that may be stopping you progress, or it will just generally help you make better progress.
Don't just rely on emails: Whilst emails can be very good at passing information in a well summarised form, it is necessary to keep the personal touch that you get when working in an office. I helps to talk to people - it builds relationships and in the end it will help bring more cooperation. The phone call and any actions can then be summarised in an email if necessary.
Take regular breaks: It is necessary to take a break periodically. It helps refresh you and overall it will speed up the work rate.
Working from home technical and facilities issues
Not only is it necessary to create some rules for working from home, it is also necessary to make sure all the right equipment and facilities are available. Without these it becomes very difficult to work from home, and productivity will be much less.
Dedicated office space: It definitely helps to have a space that can be used for the office. The ideal is to have a room that can be separated off from the main living area. In this way, the work papers and other items can be worked on, and stored in the office, without spilling over into the main living area. This helps mark off work space and time from the living space and time.
Good broadband: With any business relying on good communications, email and the like, a good broadband connection is an absolute necessity.
It is not only necessary to have a fast connection, but also one that is reliable. Speed is ideal if large files are to be transferred, but reliability is very important. It may be possible to sacrifice a little speed to get a more reliable connection.
When setting up the office space and getting broadband in, it is always wise to ensure the router is placed in the best position to give the required coverage. This is important and can provide significant improvements in performance.
Note on Locating a Wi-Fi Router:
Selecting the best place for a Wi-Fi router has a major impact on its performance. Selecting the best place can ensure that the optimum performance is acheived.
Read more about locating a Wi-Fi router for best performance.
It is likely that Wi-Fi will be required to support business calls and possibly a number of other uses that could require a lot of data. A broadband connection, whether shared with home use or not may slow on some occasions and there are a number of strategies that can be adopted to make the best of the available Wi-Fi connection.
Note on getting the best Wi-Fi performance:
There are several different steps that can be taken to ensure the best performance is obtain from Wi-Fi at any given time, both in the set-up and later by using it in the best way.
Read more about getting the best Wi-Fi speed & performance.
Proper desk: It is necessary to be comfortable and have sufficient space to work efficiently. Accordingly a good desk is worth paying a bit extra for, to provide the most efficient environment
Have a good screen: Most working from home uses a computer. If you are going to be spending many hours working on the computer, make sure the screen is large enough to see everything without straining at all. Often a large screen can be connected to a laptop computer very easily, and it makes a big difference.
Work position: It is very important to be comfortable when working at a computer. If the sitting position is not right then it is very easy to get repetitive strain industry, or back pain, etc. Make sure the position of the desk, chair, keyboard and screen are right. This will save considerable discomfort, and possibly stop costly time off work.
Use a VPN when out & about: Many people will work from home, but possibly want to get out to a coffee shop for a change of scenery. The Wi-Fi networks provided can be a very good way for a very few unscrupulous people to attack a computer. This could be disastrous.
To improve security, use a VPN or Virtual private Network whenever connected to a network that like that of a coffee shop etc that is not controlled and open to many. Some companies and organisations have their own VPNs for off-site employees to use in order to to access the company network. In those cases, you'll also need to use a VPN at home. In any case, it's a good idea to get into the habit of leaving your VPN connected as often as possible because it's always safer to have it on than not.
Working from home as an employee
When working from home as an employee there are a few points to note to ensure that the work goes well, and working at home rather than in the office leads to an increase in productivity and not a period of time when the work done, is not what is needed.
As working from home as an employee, there are a few specific points for this type of working.
Stay in touch: If you are working as part of a team, make sure you stay in touch with them. All the work needs to be planned out, so people don't go off and do their own thing, and then the work does not match up later.
Check in with your manager and make sure you are doing what is required. It is all about communication. As there isn't the same contact as there is in a physical office, more effort must be made to stay in touch.
That said, don't overdo it. Continually phoning in will disrupt everyone else's work. One solution is to agree a regular call, and this can be used to discuss the main issues and then other calls can be reserved for urgent issues.
It helps if people have defined tasks and areas of work: It really helps if people working from home have specific, defined and bounded tasks. In this way it is easier get on with work without needing to continually meet with others. Defining a task, and knowing the boundaries means that you don't do bits other people might.
Salesmen, for example have defined areas in which they can sell products. Journalists have particular articles they can write, etc. . .
Home office for a small business
When setting up your own business, it can be very convenient and cost effective to run the business out of your home.
There are a few points to bear in mind when setting up the office and also other wider considerations as well.
Separate from the living area: It is very easy for a new business to become all-consuming, so it is a necessity to be able to shut work away when it is done. It also helps keep the work papers and the like spreading all over the home and disrupting normal life. A separate office or working area is such a benefit.
Fortunately, these days there are many options: spare room in the house, convert a garage, there are many office grade wooden outbuildings that can be bought and erected, and many other options.
Knowing how to work from home can bring many benefits. It can save the daily commute, it can save the cost of hiring separate premises for an office if you have your own business. iT can help a work life balance if good boundaries are put in place. It all depends on managing your time well.
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