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Do you have what it takes to work from home?
At some point, you may have fantasized about leaving that 9-to-5 daily commute behind for the prospect of working from your home. Given the opportunity, you just might jump at the chance. But before you leap too far, you need to know that not everyone is cut out for the telecommuting gig. To find out if you are a good candidate, ask yourself these questions:
Am I easily distracted?
Am I comfortable working alone?
Am I good at setting goals?
Am I able to call it quits at the end of the day?
You’ll also want to ensure you possess these skills to be successful:
Some of the biggest challenges of working from home are the constant distractions. While there may be fewer meetings and less workplace chit chat, there will be plenty of other things that compete for your attention; from kids and pets to housework, television and of course, the refrigerator. It's a good idea to set up your home office in a room with a door to help keep intrusions to a minimum.
So, how will you be able to keep yourself motivated and on task?
One way to achieve this is to act like your home office is an actual "office". That means yes, taking a shower, getting dressed, and being presentable for your workday. Somehow, this switches your mindset, and being prepared to go to work (even if it is just a stroll down the hallway) makes the transition easier. Another way is to set yourself goals—daily, weekly, or even hourly, whatever works best for you. Once you start accomplishing them, be sure to cross them off your list to feel productive and one step closer to achieving a work-life balance.
At work you were probably required to keep your desk neat so that you gave the appearance of being organized. It’s always helpful to be able to see the top of your desk! But now at home, who cares if clutter collects around you? While you no longer have the office cleaning crew, it’s now ultimately up to you to keep your space spic and span so you can do your best work.
Without face-to-face interaction, it can be easy to let things slip through the cracks, but don’t fall into that trap. You’ll need to find out what works best for you to keep you organized and on task. Making a to-do list, putting files back where they belong, using electronic or paper calendars to schedule tasks and events will ultimately help.
Of course, one big bonus of working from home is that it gets you away from the petty office politics and never-ending gossip. But once you’re in your home office, you are all alone, and you might start to miss that mutual camaraderie.
When working in a physical office, you could always just pop over to your boss’s door or your co-workers cubicle and ask them a question. Besides hearing their response, you could read their facial or body expressions. But if you telecommute, almost all transactions are done via email or phone and you lose that visual cue. That means your verbal and written correspondence skills need to be top-notch to ensure you are coming across as clear and concise as possible.
Working from home really can be the Holy Grail—but only if you know what you’re getting into. Make a plan to gain these skills and you can make working from home—work for you.