10 Unbreakable Working From Home Rules That Work!
Working from home is becoming a trend. The UK accounts for about 4 million people out of the 37 million stay at home workers worldwide. And that number will just keep on growing as more professionals seek flexible hours and companies start to adapt.
What is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting has been called by a lot of names (e-commuting, working from home, etc.). It is a work arrangement that allows an employee to work outside the office. Most telecommuters work in the comfort of their homes, some in coffee shops, libraries, and even abroad.
Instead of going to the office, work from home professionals take advantage of technology, keeping in touch with colleagues and employers via telephone, email, and even video conferencing.
When Did Telecommuting Start?
Did you know that the term “telecommuting” was actually first used in 1973? That’s years before the first commercial ISPs (Internet Service Providers) came out!
Telecommuting was coined by Jack Nilles, who told people that he was “telecommuting” when he was working remotely on a communication system for NASA.
Despite its early history, telecommuting as a way of working did not take off until the last decade when the technology that allows working from home is finally in place.
The State of Telecommuting in the UK
Just recently, Aviva, the largest insurance company (serving over 15 million clients) in the UK, conducted a study of UK’s home-based workers. Below are their results:
|UK Region||Percentage of Workers Who are Primarily Home-Based|
|Kensington and Chelsea||25.0%|
|Brighton and Hove||24.9%|
|County of Herefordshire||24.6%|
|Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly||23.8%|
|Richmond Upon Thames||22.5%|
Powys in Wales is on top of the list followed closely Kensington and Chelsea. The same study also showed that Scotland has the least concentration of work from home professionals with just 5.6% and 6.4% in West Dunbartonshire and Aberdeen, respectively.
Working from Home Rules that You Need to Follow
1️⃣ Plan, Follow and Track Your Working Hours
For most of us, going home is the signal that workday is over. However, for home-based workers, it is different. Work can easily stretch into evenings and weekends if you are not disciplined with your schedule. Your co-workers may think that you are always available too. Or worse, you let personal distractions keep you away from work.
A simple plan at the beginning of each day (or a monthly schedule) will keep work and personal activities separate. You can be as flexible as you like — just make sure you are being realistic. If you are an employed home-based worker, your employer may have set your working hours already. Freelancers and independent contractors, on the other hand, have some level of flexibility.
Keep a log or a timer, even when not required, to make sure you are working when you should.
2️⃣ Don’t Let Family Members Interrupt You
It’s hard to focus at work when you have children (and even adults) looking over your shoulders or calling out your name. So, set your rules on what merits an interruption. Of course, when your children are young, you will need to be looser.
One great way to keep children from distracting you is to plan out their day. Prepare clothes, snacks, and anything else they might need in advance. Take short breaks too! It makes it easier for kids when they know that you will get out of your “office” after some time.
3️⃣ Reduce Your Distractions
Another important working from home rule is to limit your distractions. Emails, television, household chores, social media, and many more can easily pull you away from work. The key here is self-discipline. Keeping track of your activities can help you become mindful about how you spend your time. Set rules on when to do household chores, browse Instagram or watch TV. Follow it diligently until it becomes a routine.
4️⃣ Make Your Home Office Productive
Productivity starts with your physical workspace. Ideally, a room with a door is the best but not all home-based workers have that luxury. Whatever your workspace is — a corner in your dining room or bedroom — it should be dedicated for work. The rule of the thumb is that your workplace should be a place where you are less likely to be disturbed.
If you do have a separate room as an office, then whether allowing children or not is one of the most basic decisions you have to make. You may also make a closed-door policy when you are in a video conference or call. You can also create simple rules like: keep your voices low or knock before you enter.
How you dress also impacts your productivity. Even if you don’t have any video meetings, get cleaned up and dressed before going to work. Trust me, it’ll do wonders to your mindset!
5️⃣ Don’t Multitask Too Much
Who doesn’t love multitasking? It’s tempting to multitask when you are working from home. But you must do it effectively. If you think you can finish a report while doing laundry and washing the dishes, you are just fooling yourself. Not to mention the half-finished projects you’re left with at the end of the day.
The key to effective multitasking is doing it in a limited way. For example, if you are waiting for your kid at school, then it’s alright to check some emails. You can even do an audio conference call while folding laundry!
Again, it’s ok to multitask. But if you want to succeed in telecommuting as well as in being a parent, give your full attention when you can or defer until you can fully do so.
6️⃣ You Must Be Accessible
One of the most important working from home rules is you being accessible. Telecommuting is based on trust — your clients or employer trusting you to work as expected. Be efficient and prompt in writing emails, answer questions quickly, pick up the phone, and give regular updates even though they are not asking for it. On some occasions, your employer might want you to go to the office too.
7️⃣ Get the Right Equipment
Most telecommuting work requires a laptop and a reliable internet connection (keep in mind that some companies will require you to have a certain internet speed). So, make sure you have the right equipment. If you are employed, you can ask your company if they are going to provide these for you.
Freelancers and independent contractors usually provide their own. Whatever your arrangement is, make sure that your gear is in top condition. You don’t want to lose work or delay a project because of technical hiccups.
8️⃣ Protect Your Data
Companies and clients take data security seriously. As a remote worker, you must be vigilant in keeping your data safe. Never use public WiFi and always have a physical backup of everything you are working on. If your client has asked you to sign a non-disclosure agreement, respect that and do your part. We highly recommend that you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to hide your identity on the internet.
9️⃣ Go Out!
Yes, working outside your home is as important as the other 8 working from home rules we’ve listed in this blog post. Truth is, telecommuting can be socially alienating. Not having colleagues to talk to can make work pretty boring — affecting your productivity in the long run.
Go out and get recharged! Catching up with co-workers, visit your friends, walk your dog, watch a movie, or run in the park.
🔟 Set Goals and Work on Them
How do you see your home business after a year? What projects do you want to complete in the next 3 months? Goal-setting should be an integral part of your routine as a home-based worker. Because you no longer travel to the office, you will soon find yourself having more time than usual. And wouldn’t it be nice to spend that extra time on something meaningful instead of hitting the snooze button?
Set goals then work backwards. Create micro-goals that’ll take you one step closer to what you want to achieve. Identify the steps you need to take and then incorporate them within your daily work routine. And lastly, don’t forget to track your progress regularly.
Working remotely rocks. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Working from home is also limited to certain industries (usually tech). Nevertheless, the number of telecommuters in the UK is on the rise. Whether you’re a new or a seasoned home-based professional, always keep in mind these 10 unbreakable working from home rules:
- Plan, Follow and Track Your Working Hours
- Don’t Let Family Members Interrupt You
- Reduce Your Distractions
- Make Your Home Office Productive
- Don’t Multitask Too Much
- You Must Be Accessible
- Get the Right Equipment
- Protect Your Data
- Go Out!
- Set Goals and Work on Them
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