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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Community - February 2010

Bringing Work Home with You... Permanently!
Working from Home Offers Flexibility and Savings, but It's Still Work

Do you often find yourself with papers or your laptop in front of the television during prime time? Maybe your employer allows you to work at least part of the time at home? Or, perhaps, you're self-employed and your boardroom is also the family room? Whichever describes you, you are one of approximately 45 million Americans who work from home at least one day a week, according to the American Electronics Association.

Putting in hours from home requires commitment and introduces some productivity challenges you won't find in an office.Working from home, whether it's telecommuting, a home business or some off-the-clock work, has many benefits. For most, it offers flexibility that just can't be found in the "eight-to-five" office setting. It also saves you money on gas, parking, business attire and time wasted in traffic.

But, as with any work, putting in hours from home requires commitment and introduces some productivity challenges you won't find in an office. While many people say they would welcome the opportunity to work from home, not everyone is successful at it. It takes a great deal of self-motivation, organization and independence.

Here are some tips for working from home:

  • Give yourself room and set boundaries. Establish a home office - a clean, quiet, well-lit and distraction-free area that has the equipment you need to get your work done, such as a desk, phone, computer, printer and Internet connection. Sorry, setting your laptop computer on the coffee table doesn't count. Make sure your family members understand that this is your work space and when you are in it, you are "at work."
  • Manage your time. We take our time management cues from others. In the office, everyone begins work, goes to lunch and finishes for the day at about the same time. At home, you don't have these social cues, so you have to establish your own routines. Try to make your work-at-home schedule resemble an office routine as much as possible. Set your work hours and stick to them. Resist the urge to work more than 8-10 hours a day or to split your day up between work tasks and home tasks.
  • Recognize that you need interaction. Working from home often means giving up regular interactions with your co-workers. Sure, if you have a "Chatty Cathy" co-worker, this idea might thrill you, but don't forget that it is personal relationships that drive work and productivity. Plan regular trips to the office or meet with colleagues and clients as often as possible to maintain these connections. The phone is fine, but don't use it as a replacement for personal interaction. E-mail doesn't count as connection.
  • Control distractions. Many people who try working from home eventually give it up because home life often distracts them from their tasks. Little Susie may be home sick from school, or the laundry is piling up, or the entertainment center just isn't going to dust itself. The distractions can cause you to procrastinate and can negatively affect the quality of your work.

If the concept of working from home has you envisioning mornings of sleeping late and wearing your pajamas all day, you probably don't have the right attitude to be successful at it. But, if you are someone with the right work habits and dedication, working from home can provide you the opportunity to save on commuting time and expenses while gaining flexibility.