Freelancers are often found working from home, whether it’s under the stairs, in a spare room, or in a corner of the house. When Atlas Translations started in 1991, it was generally agreed that in the future, we’d all be working from home with no commuting – technology allowing us to work anywhere. In reality, there are certainly more people spending at least some of their working time from home, but as we are reminded whenever we pop on the train to London to visit a client, commuting workers are still the majority.
So home-workers are a minority, and not always taken seriously or treated as professionals. Cue many jibes about working in pyjamas whilst lying in bed, with daytime TV on in the background, long lunches, siestas and short working hours. Throw in a partner and some children and you’ll also be expected to go to the post office, collect the dry cleaning, wash up and pop out for bread and milk. Friends and family will also phone up or even call in for a cuppa…
So, here are my top tips for working from home.
- Have a routine. Just as you would if you traveled to work. This could include shower, getting dressed, breakfast, checking email, work
- Make a daily plan of what you want/need to achieve
- Manage distractions. These could include phone, personal callers, social media and email – have set times when you check email, Facebook and so on. Disconnect if necessary!
- Separate work and home life as much as possible – separate email addresses & phone numbers. Switch off computer if you are not working.
- Take regular breaks – to have a walk around, hang the washing out, have a cuppa, meditate – whatever works for you. And do eat regularly.
- Accept you’ll have days where you achieve loads – and days where you seem to get very little done. This happens to everyone, wherever you work.
- Have formal working hours. You may need to do overtime but try to keep this to a minimum, just as you would if you worked externally.
- Try to have a lunch break – for lunch, or exercise, something that gets you away from your desk (and chair) so you’ll be refreshed for the afternoon.
Anyone who works from home faces the same challenges – and enjoys many of the same pleasures – so I polled some of the local business community and give them the last word.
Jenny Soppet Smith of DigitalJen – What I struggle with is admitting that I need to put the heating on – it feels ridiculous heating the whole house for me but then I don’t work as well when it’s cold. My other top tip is to not have biscuits in the house!
Becky Lowman, Teacher at Let’s Dance – I miss the special friendships you make with work colleagues and the Xmas party! We never get told we are doing a good job! And you’re at home for all the annoying sales calls! BUT you have freedom, choice to go for lunch if needed; go for a walk for hours if you feel stressed. Lots of perks but mainly make sure you keep on task, try not to get distracted. Sometimes I make myself a little timetable like at work so I can plan out how long things will take. Bad thing is most of the time I don’t stop for lunch I’ll just keep going and then feel like I’ve not moved in hours!