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Staying Productive When You Work from Home
Working from a home office – teleworking (formerly known as telecommuting) – can be a great opportunity to gain personal independence; however, it comes with a price tag.
According to a U.K study (http://www.management-issues.com/2007/7/30/research/managers-still-suspicious-of-home-working.asp) managers don't fully trust their employees to be productive. Apparently much of this has to do with the fact that most managers are not prepared or aren't exactly sure how to manage remote teams.
For this very reason, it is incumbent on those who choose to work remotely, whether in a home office or from the corner Starbucks, to ensure they are being as productive as they would if they were working confined behind the four walls of a corporate office.
To help prevent you from becoming a slacker and taking advantage of a great situation, here are five of the most common work-at-home pitfalls and how to avoid them.
A common work-at-home issue revolves around this whole concept of home office space and the importance of having it well defined. It is nearly impossible to work off a kitchen table while other family members are going about their daily routine. Creating a separate work space with physical barriers that allow privacy is key to being able to work effectively and efficiently.
Since you wouldn't roll in and out of a corporate office any old time you wanted, you shouldn't do it when working at home. Yes, part of the attraction is to have flexibility. However, you need to keep regular business hours if you expect to meet deadlines, gain the confidence of your manager and show that you are in fact working hard and not shirking your work.
Pajama's and bunny slippers are not appropriate office attire. And while you don't have to put on a business suit and tie each day, it helps to put on a nice pair of slacks and clean shirt just so you feel like the true professional that you really are.
Tempting as it may be to walk the dog, do the laundry and dishes, and play with the kids, your focus really needs to be on your work. Consider building in breaks during your day – just like at a corporate office – when you allow yourself to do personal tasks. Arrange projects with goals and deadlines of what needs to be accomplished, and then reward yourself with a break once you've completed the task.
It's easy to feel isolated when you work in a home office and don't have the sound of and interaction with coworkers. To help you feel connected and to reaffirm to your boss that this home-work arrangement was the right move, call in on a regular basis, stop in or attend meetings when necessary, and send emails with regular updates on your progress. It'll help to remind you – and your boss -- that you are at home working, not playing.
It's important to realize that working from home is not for everyone. Teleworking requires self motivation and discipline in order to not appear like you're a flake taking advantage of a situation. Make sure to stay productive when you work at home.
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