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The pitfalls of working from home

May 15, 2013

Working from home can seem like a dream come true – whether you’re self-employed, or are employed by a company that allows flexible working conditions, it’s a chance to cut out the commuting and work in your pyjamas.

However, you shouldn’t let that relaxed feeling spread too far into your working day – it’s easy to become distracted when there’s no manager looking over your shoulder.

Learn to benefit from the stress-free working conditions the home environment creates, without compromising your business integrity or productivity – and here are a few places you can start.

1. Don’t mix business with pleasure

Make sure you keep a clear division between your work and home life – even though they take place in the same building.

For ‘professionals’, that might mean having a separate office, desk, filing cabinet, and a PC or laptop dedicated to business use.

If you’re more of a creative type, you might simply need to designate an area of your home as being for work – and make sure it has everything you need within arm’s reach.

Maintaining motivation is a challenge for homeworkers, so give yourself a headstart by knowing what’s work and what’s home.

2. Stick to your rules

Once you know where your boundaries lie, stick to them.

If you’ve told yourself that your productivity will drop if you work in pyjamas, don’t be tempted to stop getting dressed a few weeks into your homeworking career.

If you want to work a full 9-5 day, make sure you stick to those hours – and likewise, don’t work through lunch just because there are no co-workers around you to remind you when midday arrives.

3. Reward yourself

In any job, there need to be rewards when you accomplish a task, and when you work at home it’s likely to be you who decides what that reward will be.

Maybe you allow yourself to clock off for the day if you get everything done early, or you take the opportunity to have something a little more substantial than a supermarket sandwich for lunch.

Whatever you use as an incentive for yourself, it should be something that you know you’ll appreciate – and not anything potentially damaging, such as a lunchtime visit to the pub!

4. Get out and about

You might want to mark the boundary between your work day and your evening by actually leaving the house.

This serves two purposes – firstly, it gives your brain a clear sense that the working day is over, while secondly it gets you some fresh air and exercise.

By doing this, you get some air in your lungs, clear your head, and hopefully get a bit of physical exertion, without which you might find it hard to sleep.

5. Network

Even if you work from home, you usually can’t do it in total isolation – you need suppliers, partners and, of course, customers.

Take the networking opportunities that come your way, whether they’re virtual (social networks, for example) or physical (seminars and trade shows).

Particularly if you’re self-employed, word of mouth is still a powerful marketing tool, so make sure your name is out there, and that you’re being talked about in positive terms.

More help on ByteStart

For more on getting the most out of working from home, try some of our other guides;