The Dos and Donts of Working from Home

by : andypoole

At last, you've realised your dream. You no longer have to take part in the morning and evening commute, you don't have to get involved anymore in petty office politics and you are free to do as you please -you're working from home.

More and more people are setting out independently to create their own business in a work from home environment. Apart from the freedom of being your own boss, there are many advantages to working from home as opposed to running your business from commercial premises - cost being the major one. But it's as well to be aware of the potential pitfalls that may affect your performance and could even undermine the whole venture and have you re-joining the rat race.

Mostly, it's down to common sense but all too often what seems like common sense is only viewed with the benefit of hindsight.

Firstly some dos.

Do talk it over with others who live in the house. This is after all your and their living space and all parties need to have agreed that part of the family home can be used this way.

Do check it out with your insurance and mortgage companies as there may be clauses that need amending or could even prevent it. It's unlikely but check it anyway.

Do take into account the type of business you're running. If you're providing a service or information, space for a desk is all you really need but if you're selling products, where are you going to store them? A garage and a spare bedroom full of cartons might not be appreciated.

Do be disciplined. When you no longer go out to work, that fact that you still need to work can get sort of lost. See your day as still a working day. Decide how many hours you want or need to work and then stick to them. There has to be flexibility in this of course, otherwise a major advantage to working from home is wasted, but some sort of regular work pattern is best.

From my experience, I know of people working from home who need to feel that they're in work mode to operate and who dress as if they're going to the office. Not necessarily the suit, collar and tie but in a dressed down, smart casual way. Sitting in front of the computer or on the phone in pajamas just doesn't work for them. If it does for you then that's a bonus and a saving on clothes bills.

Now some don'ts.

Don't be distracted. When you're employed, you work according to your contract. You arrive and leave at certain times and you do the work that's expected of you in that time. Working from home has many potential temptations and distractions to undermine that ethic. There's something you want to watch on the TV, it would be a great day to take the dog to the park, the CD/DVD collections needs cataloguing, the lawn needs cutting - the list is endless.

Don't publish your home telephone number. This is very relevant if you're promoting a website which shows your number. The web is global, even if you're only operating within your own area or country. I speak from experience as I've been woken in the early hours by people calling from the other side of the World and answering business calls when you're still half asleep isn't a good idea! Get a dedicated business line and an answering service.

Don't become too isolated. It's important to remember that most likely you were part of a community when you went to work. You had colleagues with whom you discussed last night's tv, and who shared a common goal with you in that you worked together with the same aim. When you work from home, that goes. You can still have contact over the telephone or via email but unless you have a home that's the neighborhood drop-in coffee shop, you will not be meeting many people. Understand this and make time and space for human contact.

Working from home is a bonus. Make the most of it but be aware of the potential hazards.