BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Working from Home

Posted by egehl on April 21, 2010

In our modern age more employers are seeing the business advantages of home offices for their bottom line, and as a way to offer flexible work policies for their employees.  However what are the pluses and minuses of working from home?

The shift happening in the workplace with more people working remotely is due to employers wanting to cut back on office expense, modern technology that allows us to work anywhere and employees wanting more time at home so they can better balance work and family.  Employers see advantages to home offices because it cuts down on costs and produces happier, healthier employees. 

With the “virtual office” becoming more popular, it will impact how we do business and ways that employees relate to each other.   Proponents of working at home and other virtual offices tout that it will reduce business overhead costs, raise productivity, save jobs and improve family life.  These are all true however there are some downsides to this way of working as well.

Working remotely can create feelings of isolation and anxiety, and it requires self-discipline and focus to be successful.  If you have an extroverted personality where you gain energy from other people, working from home can be especially difficult and you must be mindful of other ways to keep you motivated. 

For those people that may feel starved for human contact and miss working in an office, spending more time in a coffee shop or public library may help.  It will get you out of the house and around others working in a similar situation. 

Many people love working from home and find it an effective way to handle their family responsibilities in a less stressful way.  Other benefits of working from home include not being distracted by coworkers and other unpredictable occurrences that inevitably happen in an office.  You miss the surprises that come with an office environment and get more done in a shorter amount of time. 

Whether you work for yourself or an established employer you could fall into some common pitfalls when you work from home.  However there are ways to overcome these obstacles by keeping the following in mind:

1. If you start to feel isolated or antsy seek out alternatives to only working from home.  Ideally this would entail a location that serves food, coffee and has wireless Internet connection. 

2. Connect with others who are also working in a virtual office and plan times to meet for lunch or check in with each other. 

3. Many women find dressing professionally makes a difference when you work in an office so you may want to do the same even while you are at home.  Granted you may not want to put on a suit, but get out of the pajamas!

4. Set up a functional workspace which should include necessary equipment.  Decorate your workspace so that it is aesthetically appealing but try to keep distractions to a minimum.

5. Establish a working schedule and regular hours when you work.  This will help you to be more efficient. Be sure to schedule work time as well as break times so that you will not become overwhelmed. One of the pitfalls of being at home is working too many hours because you aren’t in an office where there are sest times to start and end your day.  

6. It’s important to set realistic goals for what needs to be accomplished everyday.  You must discipline yourself to keep on task, communicate openly with coworkers, report to your manager and gauge your success through accomplished deliverables.  Gain a keen sense of what motivates you in case you get distracted.  Also if possible check in with your supervisor and co-workers which can help give you structure.

7. Continue to maintain a professional attitude even while at home. If you have frequent client interactions, be careful to answer the phone or respond to their emails in a professional way. Professional interactions should be businesslike and this will also ensure that the client does not begin to doubt the quality of work that is being put into their projects.

8. For those with children, consider hiring a day care provider. Those who have young children may find it difficult to attend to the needs of their children while fulfilling their job obligations.  Therefore it may be worthwhile to have a day care provider care for your child during working hours.

9. Avoid volunteering for too many activities. Many people assume that because you work from home you are free to help them do non-work related activities.  Therefore it’s important to establish boundaries.

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