Monday, 8 May 2017

Working from Home - What you need to keep in mind

Working from home is becoming a very attractive option. Companies around the world are encouraging employees to work for at least one day a week from home, thus freeing up desk space in the office and therefore reducing costs. Startup entrepreneurs generally work from their homes as long as they are bootstrapping their young business. And then there is a large community of professionals like lawyers, architects, chartered accounts and the like who have earmarked a section of their homes as their work place.

You can work at your own pace, in the comfort of your home and out of sight of overbearing bosses. No long commutes and no getting stuck in traffic. You can dress how you like, eat and drink what you want, schedule your work the way you want to and stay in your pyjamas or your T Shirt and shorts until lunch. No one will be the wiser.

If you are thinking of working from home or are already working from him, it is worth planning carefully. The idea of working from home and the reality of actually not stepping out every morning can be very different. You can set up your own work space the way you like and not be constrained by the interior decorator or the administration officer of your organisation.

Here are some pros and cons for you to consider.

No Distractions

Working from home means that you can work in an environment of your own liking and do away with distractions that are normally to be expected in an open office or in a cubicle from fellow workers and vendors. You can work at your own pace and in an environment of your choosing. You can play music while working and you can take as many coffee breaks as you want to. You can be at your productive best!

But, working from home can be lonely. The office environment also provides the much-needed companionship of co-workers and the ability to brainstorm ideas. Colleagues can provide a break from the stress in the work place. You will certainly miss the office grapevine and the pleasures of gossiping about other colleagues! You will also miss out on the goings on in your company. Out of sight out of mind could easily apply to you when you do not have sufficient face-time with your boss. And of course, you will be required to deliver on your commitments, irrespective of where you may be working from.

In Office Meetings vs Video Conferences

A lot of time at work goes away in meetings called for to discuss virtually anything. Meetings can be time consuming and painful especially if the boss drawls on and on. If you are not in the office, you will not be dragged into unnecessary meetings.

Given all the easy communication options available, staying in touch with colleagues is now very simple and cost efficient. Video Conferencing, using Skype, WhatsApp or a host of other options are virtually free.

But, it is easy to become a slave to video conference calls where you are sitting facing your computer camera for long hours! With so many people watching you over the band waves, it is not easy to switch off as you could during an office meeting! There is also a strong possibility that your work hours will blend into your free hours and before you know it, you could be working much longer hours at home.

Save the Commute Time

Driving or taking the train to work every morning is getting more and more painful and stressful every day. Sitting for hours, stuck in traffic jams can never be anyone’s idea of a starting or ending a day at work. This is exacerbated if you are late for a meeting or worse, if you are late coming home for a family commitment. Imagine the number of unproductive hours you would have spent sitting in your car and imagine what you could have done if these hours were to be freed up. Not to say about the savings you will make in the cost of commuting and the maintenance of your vehicle. You could even consider moving out into the suburbs closer to nature and with better air quality.

But, if you are one of those people who enjoy the personal time this commute provides you and either read, listen to music or watch a movie, then you need to provide for this in your homework day as well.

No need to Dress up every day

One advantage several people who work from home talk about is not having to “dress up for work every morning”. You can dress far more casually than you would normally do and sport a two-day-old stubble! No one will ever know whether you are wearing jeans or shorts when you join a video conference call.

But, for your own discipline, it is advisable to dress up every morning. After all, you are working from home and you are being paid to work by whoever your employer maybe. There is always a sense of formality that overcomes ones being when one dresses for the office as compared to a weekend at home. Further, an over casual dress may not necessarily go down well with your fellow participants over a video call.

Work Life Balance

You will have the ability to balance your work and your home commitments. Most people who work a 10-hour day and have a 3-hour commute miss out on life at home. You will be at home when your children return from school and you will be able to get all those odd jobs done at home that you for which you struggle to find time.

But you should remember that while your location may have changed, you are still working. You need to strike the right balance between your work and all other activities, especially during the time when your colleagues are at work in office.

Working from home can be wonderful but requires an incredible amount of self-discipline. Everyone enjoys some space, and peace and quiet. Your quality of life can be much better once you do not have the challenges of the daily commute. Remember that it is critical to get into a routine if you decide to work from home. Dress up like you normally would every morning. Schedule your workday similar to what you would at office including your coffee and lunch breaks. You should aim to get out every day. Many cafes have a regular clientele who turn up with their laptops and work for a while alongside a cup of coffee, just to provide a break in the day.

If you are comfortable to schedule your home working day and go into home working with your eyes open, you will not regret it.

The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.

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