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Secrets to Working from Home

February 9, 2011

Working from home.

Utter these three words in any corporate setting and people will swoon at the thought. Freedom from fluorescent lighting, bad coffee and incessant distractions. Saved gas costs, childcare expenses, and dry cleaning bills. What’s not to like?

For those of us who do work from home, we know the reality can be far from perfect. Work/life balance is tricky when the lines between our professional and personal selves are so blurred that no clear point of demarcation exists.

How to master it, then? Take a clue from seasoned at-home workers who share their secrets for success:

1. Space it out

Just because you can work anywhere doesn’t mean you should. Wifi may span your whole house, but dedicate one room to working and outfit it as a functional workspace. When you cross the threshold of that room, your brain knows you’re now “at work.”  

 2. Keep office hours

 They don’t have to be 9-5, but do commit to a regular work schedule that syncs with your natural work rhythms and your boss’ expectations. It’s harder to justify running out for coffee if you think it will make you “late” for work.

 3. Protect your back

The average worker sits 5-6 hours a day. Don’t rely on a dining room chair or other makeshift solution to keep you comfortable. Invest in a high-quality office chair with back support.

 4. Divide your digits

Have your office calls forwarded to your cell phone. If the home phone rings during your office hours, don’t answer it. After all, you’re at work. And if it’s real nose-to-the-grindstone time, silence both phones, IM, and email notifications.

 5. Take a break

More than one, actually. Take a 10-minute break for every hour you work. Step away from the computer and walk around the block or do some simple stretches. Going for a glass of water every hour can ensure you get the recommended eight glasses and get you out of your chair.

6. Go Paperless.

Paper stacked in an office is unsightly. Paper stacked in your house is a tragedy waiting to happen. Scan and destroy papers. Pay your personal and business bills online. Do not store any check stock in your house. And make sure you invest in a good paper shredder!


And if you’re a boss considering a telecommuting for your team, here’s a good reason to try it out: employees are proven to be more committed to companies that allow them to have flexible schedules.

Does your company allow work-from-home employees? Are you one? What tips would you offer other companies making the leap?

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