I am writing this blog post from my “home office” (which is really just a desk and a leather chair shoved into the corner of my room, but hey, it works). The hum of the laundry machine rumbles in the background, a petulant-looking cat sits idly on my windowsill, and I may or may not still be wearing my pajamas. And yet, by lunchtime, I’ve accomplished just as much work (if not more) than I would have had I gone into the office today. Needless to say, I love working from home, but it has its pros and cons. Are you considering a full or part-time work from home position? Here are some things to think about:
- Work/Life Balance – Balancing your personal life with your work life is challenging, but working from home allows you to take care of tasks from both worlds. For example, that laundry I mentioned before? I did that in between work projects, which I wouldn’t have been able to do had I been in the office. Do I have to make a quick personal call to my doctor, or to a family member? Its fine, because I don’t share my “home office” with anyone but myself. If I do have to take a generous amount of time out of my day to handle personal things, I’ll make up the time by working for an hour or two after dinner. Having the flexibility to take care of both work and life issues is a wonderful thing that will make you feel both accomplished and less stressed.
- Cost – When I lived in Boston, my commute was an hour and a half long…one way. Can you imagine the amount of money/sanity I could have saved if I worked from home a few days a week? Occasionally skipping your commute not only saves you money but also helps to save the planet. And what about saving money for your employer? In the office, you’re provided with snacks, bandwith, electricity, etc. You don’t often think about these things, but they cost money, so staying home is a win-win situation for both you and your boss when it comes to being cost effective.
- Higher Productivity – It’s important to remember that this specific pro is different for different people, but for me, I tend to get more work done at home. The phone isn’t ringing off the hook, people aren’t stopping by my desk to chat every few minutes, and meetings are held over the phone and are generally run much faster and more efficiently. Like I said, different strokes for different folks, but working from home can help block out the usual buzz of the office and help you focus on getting things done.
- Work/Life Balance – Look familiar? It’s because this is both a draw and a drawback to working from home. Sometimes it’s hard for people to put up a boundary between their professional lives and their personal lives, especially when you’re home with the kids or with a few rambunctious pets. To achieve work/life balance, I make separate To-Do lists: one for personal items (like calling to make a dentist appointment, etc) and one for professional tasks, like the personalized To-Do lists that are automatically generated for me in LiquidPlanner. This way, I can see what needs to be done in my two separate worlds without having them collide. You can also physically put up a boundary as well. For example: if you’re having friends over for dinner, make a rule that your laptop and phone have to be turned off and put away. No one likes to hang out with someone if they’re checking their email constantly and only paying half attention.
- Time Management – Working from home requires some pretty advanced time management skills. Instead of letting time slip away from you, make sure to use the timers available in LiquidPlanner to track exactly how much time you’re spending on each task so you get a better idea of how to plan the rest of the day. It may shock you to see that one of those so-called “easy” tasks you had on your plate took a full hour to finish.
- Isolation – It’s easy to feel separated from the rest of the team when you’re only in the office every once and a while. It’s nice to be able to run into that guy from Accounting in the hallway and talk sports for a few minutes. To keep yourself from feeling disconnected, make sure to keep the lines of communication open and use them frequently so your presence in the office is always felt, if only in a virtual way. In LiquidPlanner, make real time updates in the Comment Streams. Jump into discussions, attach files and pictures to better inform your colleagues, and be a part of the conversation. And make sure you’ve set your avatar picture so no one forgets your face!
Now we want to hear from you: do you prefer to work from home, or do you like going to the office during the week?