Technology has made it increasingly efficient to telecommute in a variety of industries. The challenge becomes motivating yourself to jump out of your workout gear and get ready for the day when the only person you are most likely to see is the one in the mirror! A strong case can be made for taking the extra time to plan your day and supercharge your success. Here are my etiquette suggestions for proficiently working from a home office.
- Do get up and ready. Start the morning off by running a brush through your hair and waving the mascara wand and blush brush across your clean face. You will feel better knowing you have readied yourself for the day, which potentially includes unforeseen visits, outings to the store, or various appointments. Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, states that dressing too casual can affect your mood, leaving you less focused and alert.
- Don't neglect to designate a work space. Even if you're limited in square footage, it's worth your while to create a bright spot where you can focus on projects and to-do's. A portion of the kitchen counter, a desk in your sunroom, or a spot in the corner of your spare guest room is fine as long as you are not interrupted or distracted when you are in work mode. The goal is to set up a productivity station that has everything you will need to stay on task. Curling up on the couch, or propped up in your bed encourages rest and relaxation, not motivation and drive.
- Do prepare for the unexpected. When you take a mid-morning latte run, you can confidently face the client you didn't anticipate you'd see. Just remember to slip on sandals or flats (not flip-flops!) before stepping out the door. When your boss texts and asks you to jump on a video conference in 15, you don't have to make excuses because you look great.
- Don't skip lunch. When you get busy or distracted, you often forget to take a meal break. Manage your time at your home office with the same respect you would if you were driving into the city for a traditional work day. You have the luxury of being more flexible with your day, but sticking to a routine, which includes planning for healthy meals, will enable you to work more resourcefully than wandering around the house for a cup of noodle soup or a few handfuls of chips.
- Do make your time count. It's important to set boundaries when you telecommute. Your neighbor may think you are available for a 20 minute chat when she spots you out in your front yard taking a quick break. Or, a friend may text you from the mall wanting your immediate feedback on which purse you suggest she purchase. Don't let others infringe on your professional time. Speak up and let your neighbor know in a firm, but friendly, tone you are headed back inside momentarily to finish up a project. Ignore inconsequential texts and turn your ringer on silent. It's not necessary to feel guilty when prioritizing your time.
- Don't let distractions get in the way. I recently wrote an article on dodging daily interruptions. Whether you work in a brick and mortar building, local coffee shop or your personal domain, it's up to you to control your personal disturbances. If you find you work best listening to music, but need to work from your neighborhood deli while the exterminator is at your home, pop in some earbuds and build reports to your heart's content. Make sure and order food so you won't take up a table.
- Do maintain a regular schedule. Whether your routine requires an 8 to 5 work day, or you assign 4 solid hours of uninterrupted concentration, make an attempt to be consistent. I am a speaker and my day revolves around my speaking engagements. When I'm not presenting, I sit down to my computer by 9:00 am and work until 3 or 4 pm. I follow my own advice and ignore texts that I can respond to later, and use my lunch time to catch up with friends or run errands. I am diligent with my schedule and find it pays off to stick to a predictable routine.