How to get the most of your Work from Home

Working from Home is here to stay. Even aggressive moves like the one taken recently by Yahoo’s CEO, asking her entire workforce to come back to the office, are not going to revert this tendency. As more companies adopt this model as an advantage to their employees, more people face the challenges associated with it. This week I discuss 4 points to make the most of this way of work.

Plan ahead – working from home removes most of the routine involved in going to work at the office. The boundaries between work and life tend to become a bit blurry. So it is useful to define some rituals to help you keep those boundaries and stay healthy and productive. Define a specific space to use as your home office, comfortable enough to stay there long periods. Ideally in a room where you could close the door and stay focused while others do their chores as usual. Try to stick to a specific start time and end time for your work related duties. This is easier said than done, but having at least a rough time frame, will help you keep your balance. You may want to get fully dressed as you would usually do when going to the office. And also to define a contingency plan on what to do if there is a power or connectivity failure. 

Stay flexible and professional – nothing will help you the most than staying flexible and professional while working from home. If there is an important assignment, meeting or activity, pack your stuff and go the office. If the connection got broken at home, move to another place so you can continue your duties, or make the actual trip to the office if possible. This will show your commitment and judgment to your peers and managers. You will be showing that you are accountable for your results at all times and that you deserve the kind of confidence that is given to you in a work from home model. 

Stay connected and engaged – if you are at the office it is pretty easy to walk some steps and talk to your colleagues about an urgent matter or a new idea. You can use a conference room or a blackboard to clarify something. People can notice if you are there but not are your desk because of your belongings or something like that. If you are at home you sacrifice that to some extent. So take the time to connect with your colleagues and costumers through the phone, conference calls and chats. If you will be out for a while, don’t forget to update your status in your communication tools. Make your cell phone number and your home number available at least to your closest colleagues and customers. 

Help your family to adapt – if you are working from home, you are physically at home but you are not really there. You are at work. You can’t play with the kids or the dog anytime they want. You can’t answer every question your loved one makes you right away. This is a change that doesn't happen auto magically. You should talk with your family about it and set some ground rules to help them adapt to the fact that they have you close but not necessarily there in all the sense of the word. For example you can decide to use the door closed when attending meetings and asking them to quietly knock on the door before going into the room where you are working. 

Til next week, 

- Sergio Calvo.

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