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The benefits of working from home are appealing. The costs and time associated with commuting are eliminated. Dress code is no longer a factor. Scheduling flexibility may be increased, allowing for an improved work-life balance. Working at home is a helpful arrangement for parents with young children who have school schedules that don't match office schedules. But a home-based work arrangement can also be difficult when the lines between work and home life get blurred.
Working from home requires focus and the ability to disregard domestic distractions. Laundry, television and yard work are not accessible to you at an office, so they should not occupy your attention during your work-at-home time. Do not answer a personal phone call if you are concerned with offending a caller with a short conversation. Designate for yourself work quotas to meet before you run errands or go grocery shopping. To enjoy the benefits of a work-life balance, you must be able to set aside enough of your time only for work.
Discipline is a requirement of telecommuting. Sitting down at your computer is not working if you are sidetracked by checking your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Allow yourself some personal computer time, but choose a "shift start" time for when you transition from personal computer time to work.
Organizational skill helps to facilitate a successful work-at-home endeavor. You are in charge of stocking up on supplies and ensuring that you have the necessary tools and equipment to complete your work. You are also the person who schedules your own day, and differentiates between personal tasks and work duties.
Designated Work Space
A designated work space may be necessary, depending on the nature of your business. If you are a writer, office space is not required but can help minimize distractions and gives you a place to "go to work" so that you are able to focus. If your business involves a product that you create and sell, such as a craft, you need an area to organize and store your supplies and equipment, as well as space to work.
Problem Solving Ability
It takes independent problem-solving ability to successfully work from home. If your office equipment malfunctions, you are the one responsible for fixing it or replacing it, unlike staff in a corporate office who can call an IT department. If you encounter a road block or hurdle, it must be you who devises a solution, and not a coworker or boss.
Having an introverted temperament makes working from home easier. If you are social and thrive on face-to-face interaction, it takes a proactive approach to fill this need. Schedule coffee breaks with strict time limits during which you go to a local coffee shop to pick up your brew, rather than making it alone at home.
Creating boundaries with other household members is critical for work-at-home success. If your spouse wants to talk while you should be working then do so, but choose a "shift start" time at which point you wrap up the conversation and go to work. Explain that if you worked outside the house you would not be there to talk at all. If your children are old enough to play and self-direct without supervision, explain that you are "going to work" in your office. While you are still there if they have a problem with something, you are not free to engage in play or social chatter during your work hours. Explain that if you had a job where you went to an office building, they would not see you at all for most of the day.
Nancy Lovering is a writer, photographer and teaching assistant. She took novel writing at Langara College and photography at British Columbia Institute of Technology. She obtained her teaching assistant certificate through Delta School District Continuing Education. She previously worked as an assistant controller while in the Certified General Accountants program, and has training in dog psychology through Custom Canine Teaching Ltd. in Vancouver, BC.