Five questions to ask yourself before working from home
Not all jobs are suited to working from home. And even if your job is suitable, you need to ask yourself a few questions before you start working from home on a regular basis.
Is your company OK with it?
The most important prerequisite is that your employer supports the home office idea, as well as flexible working hours and independence of employees. Otherwise misunderstandings, excessive scrutiny and negative comments can quickly burst the bubble of your home office dream. Talk to your colleagues about how often you would like to work from home and how this could work. Ideally both the company and employee should benefit from the resulting arrangement.
Do you have the right equipment at home?
You must be able to access your documents and files from home. To do this, you should have a company-owned laptop or access to company information via VPN. You can use the cloud to share documents easily with your colleagues and business partners, from wherever you are.
Am I cut out for working at home?
There are also a lot of distractions lurking at home. Can I switch to office mode for several hours and ignore the washing, everyday chores and other private tasks? It is important to be able to divide your time and focus on your work. Ideally, you should plan your home office day the evening before. If you find social contact very important, you should make sure you maintain a healthy balance. Many people find the 80/20 rule very good (80% working in the office, 20% working from home). Once you've decided to try working from home, it's a good idea to make one day your regular home office day. That way, you can get used to the situation and will become increasingly productive.
What are the advantages of working from home?
You can avoid some of the negative aspects of working in an open-plan office. No-one will interrupt your workflow. You can decide when to take breaks and avoid unproductive meetings, apart from telephone conferences. You'll have time to really dedicate yourself to your work, with greater scope for creativity. Tasks such as planning, writing and developing ideas are often easier to do at home. During your breaks you can enjoy sitting on your own balcony, for example, or briefly visit your favourite local cafe. We feel at ease in our own homes. Things that have a positive effect on our mood also make us happier and perform better. You'll also notice this on your "normal" days in the office.
And what about the commute to work?
In the morning you won't have to squeeze into an overcrowded train or fight for a parking space. Spending hours stuck in traffic is completely unproductive. The commute to your home office will take you around 5 seconds. You won't generate any CO2 emissions, won't have to rush (or be rushed by others) and can use the time that you would otherwise spend in traffic working productively at your desk. This is an obvious advantage that also means you'll have more time to work. An effective home office day is often longer than a typical work day.
It's entirely up to you whether working from home is suitable for you and if so, how often. There are many factors to take into consideration. But it's worth trying out! Raise awareness among your colleagues. Point out the positive aspects of working from home. For example on this year's official Home Office Day on 15 May 2014.