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by Vault Careers | September 19, 2011


Technology has made it possible for professionals in many fields to do part or even most of their job from home. More and more companies are offering employees the opportunity to work from home.  While this can be a beneficial development for work-life balance, staying productive at home may require developing different work habits than staying productive in the office. 

Dad-Computer-KidsMinimize distractions.  The main problem that working from home poses to productivity is distractions that are not present in the office. Those who are just beginning to work from home may benefit from making the transition as smooth as possible - teleworkers should clear their work space and resist the temptation to do things they wouldn't do in the office, such as browsing the web for prolonged periods or making long personal calls.  Television is also a big no-no.  Make sure you work from a room away from the TV.  You can watch your programs after you finish your work.  That's why they invented the DVR. 

Make your telework arrangement clear to others.  For many workers, being productive while working at home requires the cooperation of others. Roommates, significant others and friends should understand that just because the worker is at home doesn't mean he or she is free or available to run errands or fulfill other requests. The phrase, "pretend like I'm not even here," might need repeating again and again until they get the point.  Also, make sure your home is suitable for a work space.  If your roommate is at home during the day and tends to be noisy, it might not be fair to ask them to change their life just because you wanted to work from home.  You should also make it clear to co-workers that just because you are working from home...they shouldn't feel the need to inundate your inbox with messages at all hours of the day.  Your boss - that's going to be unavoidable. 

Set goals, and know when to stop.  One of the problems that teleworkers run into is that the distinctions between work and life begin to blur. Because they are at home, their work day no longer has the clear beginning or end that a work day at the office does. For many, this is a satisfactory arrangement, but for others, it adds to job-related stress. Employees who fall into the latter category should try to set firm daily deadlines for themselves to try to finish their day's work by a certain time. That way, they can have a part of their day devoted to their work and a part during which they can focus on personal responsibilities and rest. Separating work from home-life is going to be a lot harder than you think when you decide to work from home, so another option would be to designate one spot in the home for all of your work.  When the work day is done, get up and leave - and only return in the morning. 

Accept that working from home may not be for you.  Telework has been hailed by many career experts as an important development that allows employees to achieve greater work-life balance, but this is not necessarily true for all workers. Working at home has its downsides, including lack of direct supervision, lack of contact with coworkers and lack of daily structure. While for some, these are not much of a problem, other workers find that their performance and satisfaction with their job slip when they work from home.  Give it a try, but if you cannot make it work from home, the office may be the best place for you. 

--Published courtesy of Brafton (edits and additions made by Jon Minners,


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