How to Work from Home

Ten tips for a professional, distraction-free environment

Nancy Harris, senior VP and general manager

Thanks to rapid technological advancement over the past 10 years, the dream of telecommuting has become a reality for thousands of Canadians. However, though working remotely has its perks, it doesn’t come easy to everyone. Below are a few tips from Nancy Harris, senior VP and general manager for Sage 50 Accounting–Canadian Edition, to make working from home more productive, manageable, and enjoyable.

Build a Workspace
Identify a room, corner, or desk as your official workspace. Use this space only for work purposes to prevent distractions from getting in the way. It’s like they say about the bedroom: if you want a productive, peaceful sleep, use the bed only for sleeping, not to eat, watch TV, or read. So, as your mind is ready to sleep when you get into bed, your mind will be ready to work when you get to your desk.

Be Reachable
Technology now allows us to work on the go. While you are away from your computer, ensure you are reachable via phone, text, and e-mail on your mobile device to keep strong credibility among those you are working with. You don’t want others questioning your work and dedication because you are unreachable while you are away from your computer.

Look the Part
It’s tempting to lounge around in your comfy sweats all day long when no one is there to see you. I don’t know about you, but lounge clothes make me want to lounge. Get dressed for work. You don’t have to put on a suit, tie, or heels every day, but avoid “lazy” clothes because your mind may identify them with a lazy day.

Track Your Time
Draw out an organized calendar to avoid spending too much time on a certain project. Reviewing your calendar at the end of the day allows you to feel positive about your productivity.

Sustain Sociability and Relationships
While professional, digital relationships with colleagues are important, so is meeting in person. Put in the time and make the effort to meet with coworkers and clients to show dedication and passion.

Set Goals and Reward Yourself
Working alone at home can lack accolades and praise for a job well done. Identify clear goals for yourself (both big and small), and when you reach your goal, reward yourself with a treat such as a fancy dinner.

Maintain Respect for Yourself and Others
Working from home is often a well-earned privilege. Don’t tarnish this opportunity by losing respect from coworkers. Likewise, respect them by letting them know when you will be away from your computer rather than sneaking around.

Set Expectations with Family and Friends
Others often think that working from home somehow means you work less than those in offices and you have endless time for personal tasks. Be straightforward with family and friends about your work schedule to avoid personal favours.

Act Like You Go to Work
Set work hours for yourself to avoid working less or more hours than you should. Wake up on time; don’t ever get in the habit of sleeping in. Take a lunch break and allow your mind to relax for a bit, but be strict with yourself, and be wary of getting distracted by your PVR.

Ask For Help
Many people opt to work from home when they have small children in the house. If this is the case, help is almost undeniably needed. It can become incredibly difficult to lead a conference call when your child won’t stop crying in the background. Get help or consider day care—even if it’s only for a few hours—in order to have some uninterrupted time.