The following blog is authored by FlexCoach Jackie Edwards. Join FlexCareers and our panel of FlexCoaches every Monday night in the TALENTED FLEXIBLE WORKFORCE Facebook Group. Access support and discuss the issues that matter to you with our community of job seekers and employers.
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald suggests that more Australian workers than ever before are choosing to work from home. The reasons behind this are not surprising and often relate to things such as a desire for a better home/life balance, cutting costs on office rent and travel, as well as choosing their own working hours. And the decision seems to be paying off - research reported in News.com indicates that freelancers (many of which work from home) are contributing a whopping $51 billion to the Australian economy each year!
But while this all sounds great, working from home can come with challenges. Here are a few ways that you can heighten your chances of making a success out of being a home worker.
Stick to office hours
The beauty of home working is that you can be flexible with your hours. Got a medical appointment coming up? Then take an hour off. The kids Christmas show at school? Make up the time later. But although this freedom is convenient in moderation, it can become a slippery slope to a disorganised and irregular work schedule. Where possible try to stick to some sort of routine. Of course, there'll be times when a tight deadline means working into the evening or family commitments disrupt your working day. But in general, it's best to stick to regular working hours when you can - just as you would in an office environment - so that the lines between your work and home life don't become blurred.
Dress for work
There is no dress code for home working but that doesn't mean you shouldn't make an effort. Sometimes the temptation to stay in your pyjamas might be strong but showering, dressing and getting ready for work will put you in a more focused mindset and help to separate work and home time. It also means you're prepared for any unexpected conference calls!
Have a designated work space
These days there are a number of office options available for those who want to work from home successfully - from garden offices to loft conversions. But your work space doesn't have to be fancy. The idea is that you have a designated area from which you're happy, comfortable and able to work productively. It could be a spare room or even just a desk but it should be functional and well organised. If you can, design and decorate your work space in a way that inspires you - according to Entrepreneur, the colour yellow is thought to induce creativity while low wavelength shades like pale blue are calming. Green plants are also a great addition to your work space - they aren't just aesthetically pleasing but also keep the room free of toxins. It helps to lay down some privacy rules so the rest of the family know not to bother you when you're in your work space.
Working from home can be notoriously dangerous for distractions - whether it's that pile of mounting dishes, your favourite midday TV show or the lure of social media. In the absence of a boss or colleagues keeping tabs on you, it's down to you to remain disciplined. Try to save domestic chores for your 'home time' - just because you're in the house it doesn't mean you're not at work.
Another danger of working from home is not knowing when to switch off. Indeed, many home workers are guilty of over working rather than under working! But knowing when to take a break is important. At the very least you should take a lunch break (just as you would in an office) to refuel, re-energise and return to your work feeling fresh and inspired. Many home workers find that taking a stroll or even including a midday gym session into their working day can help them to remain focused. Ultimately the choice is yours and eventually you will find the best routines and working practices to suit you.