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Tips for people working from home

Tips for people working from home
Heidi Green
Start-up advice, Mentor, Marketing, Business development
Find out more about Heidi Green

In this article you’ll learn

  • How to set boundaries with your family and your neighbours
  • How to give yourself a work day structure
  • How to beat the isolation

People working from home experience lots of advantages not just the low overheads. You can work at your own pace, no stressful commute to the office and therefore increasing actual productive time on the business. It can also have real benefit in relation to work/life balance and the commitments many people have with childcare and looking after elderly relatives.

The number of people working from home is on the increase but a word of caution, it does not suit everyone. You will need to be self-disciplined, not necessarily in relation to actually doing the work, but learning to switch off. It can have a great impact on the family so you need to ensure they are fully behind the idea. Working from home can also be very isolating, many people find this aspect difficult to adjust to as they have no-one to share ideas with or use as a sounding board.

There can also be many distractions if you are not self disciplined, it is too easy to do household tasks and delay the work element. There can also be an issue of not been taken seriously when running a business from home and an expectation of friends and family that you are "available" to run errands for them, therefore you are no longer working effectively. For help with your priority management, check out our tips here

 Woman on the phone in her home office looking at paperwrok and her computer

Here’s our advice to help people working from home maximise their productivity:

Family

Ensure they understand your working days and hours, this applies to husbands and wives as well as children. If possible, use a separate room and do not be afraid of putting a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. This can help you become more self disciplined as well, when the family understand that your hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an hour off between 12 and 1, they know when they can "interrupt" you. This means you will also learn when to stop and not work beyond acceptable hours.

Neighbours

If your neighbours see your car on the drive and ask you to let the gas engineer into their house who is coming "sometime between 8 and 1" to save them from "having the morning off work". You should say no and make sure you set the boundaries very clearly from the start, explain you are also at work and maybe on the phone or need to go out on business. If someone calls round for a "coffee and a catch-up", tempting as this may be, you must set those boundaries and explain you are actually at work, hopefully they will understand and if you do this from the very start they will take you seriously. If all else fails, answer the door with your coat on and say you are just on your way out.

Structure

People working from home should set working hours. It may be tempting to do some decorating, tidy the house, walk the dog, mow the lawn, pop to the fridge for a snack, but this all then loses you productive time when you could be working your business. If you find you are working for longer than anticipated, with no breaks and impeding on family time, set an alarm clock away from your desk, turn your computer off before you stand up to turn the alarm clock off and walk away from the office. Check out our tips for time management here

Dress for the office, you will feel more professional and this can reflect in your telephone manner and the work you produce.

Man working from home looking at paperwork at his computer 

Isolation

Many people working from home say they are "lonely" and feel isolated, they no longer have colleagues to share things with and this can be a big issue. As part of your marketing strategy ensure you undertake networking, this will get you meeting and talking to like minded people who share the same issues that you do. As well as promoting your business you will find a lot of support from networking groups, just find one that suits you. We've got lots of great networking events that you can take a look at here.

Importantly engage with a business coach or mentor to help with this element. Isolation within business creates a lot of negativity and speaking to someone with no agenda other than your business can pay great dividends not just for your business but for you as an individual, helping keep your business on the right track to achieve your life goals. 

Social Media

Many people believe this is a "free" way of marketing their business. It may not always cost you money, but it does cost time, and if you are not disciplined enough you could easily find the hours vanishing as you become absorbed in various different platforms. Analyse the best time for interaction on social media and stick to it, so if a Friday between 1 and 2 is good for Facebook, post then, if you want to be part of Twitter use a Twitter hour applicable to you and stick to it.

Working from the "comfort" of your own home has many advantages, but you must learn to manage the environment and those around you by setting those boundaries and not allowing yourself to be distracted. Check out our tips to help you not waste time on social media.

Call to action to download a start up eBook 

Summary

Heidi Green gives her top tips for the ways that people working from home can stay productive.