Working from home is becoming ever more popular. Whether you have a startup, are an entrepreneur or are simply doing freelance work, a home office can be the perfect place to get the job done.
Yet there are also pitfalls to watch out for. Today’s Friday Five shares five important tips to which every person working from home should pay close attention. And don’t miss this blog post from RingCentral’s former vice president of product marketing – who became a true WFH aficionado after her son was born.
1) Watch Your Eating Habits
In a structured office environment, there are specific times of day set aside for eating. Morning coffee or tea breaks, a quick lunch hour and even an afternoon snack in the break room. But when working at home you have easy access to your fridge and pantry, and no one watching how many snack breaks you take.
Additionally, eating can serve as a dangerous distraction from difficult projects for those who have a habit of procrastinating. We recommend you set aside specific times of day for eating and even go so far as making your lunch the night before. Spice things up and try to schedule a lunch meeting or date at least once a week. Eating in solitude every day isn’t great for inspiration or productivity.
2) Optimize Your Home Office Setup
Working from home can seem like a dream: answering emails from bed, writing reports on the couch and meeting deadlines while sitting on the porch. However, if you don’t have a dedicated office space, your dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.
When your workday ends, it’s extremely important to be able to leave the office behind so you can unwind, relax and spend time with your family and/or friends. We recommend a specific space within your home be dedicated as your office. Not only is this good for keeping you focused during office hours and allowing your mind a rest at the end of your day – it also allows for a great tax write-off. (Consult a tax professional for more advice on writing off business expenses.)
3) Follow a Schedule
It can be difficult to stay focused when there’s lots of things to do around the house. Handling personal calls, surfing the net and watching television can all put a real damper on your productivity.
Create and follow a schedule to keep yourself on task while allowing for those much-needed breaks. It’s great to have a flexible schedule, but if you’re not careful you’ll end up working all day and night.
4) Maintain Contact With Your Colleagues
The solitude of a home office can be great. But alone time quickly turns on you if you’re not careful. If you have video conferences scheduled during your workweek, make an effort to get dressed in professional attire and make yourself presentable when you go on camera (i.e., webcam).
Try to meet with colleagues in person as often as possible, as well. Face time is extremely important for building relationships and spurring creativity.
5) Don’t Stop Networking
If you’re building a business, you’ll need to keep your networking skills fresh. Don’t turn into a homebody: Get out and shake hands and exchange business cards. Join your local chamber of commerce. Attend a conference. Or sign up for a business class.
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should stop growing and tending to your professional network.
What tips would you share with someone who is just starting to work from home?
Originally published Mar 07, 2014, updated Aug 07, 2020