Basic Etiquette When Working from Home
I live in Bangalore and work as a consultant from home. I have friends look at me with envy as they have to commute daily and spend hours braving the traffic. I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth; I feel fortunate that I can sit within the comfort of my home and work without wasting time commuting, given the unforgiving Bangalore traffic.
But trust me; working from home is not for everyone, owing to a multitude of reasons. In most cases, your family considers your job more as a hobby. From your husband and kids to your maid, each wants a piece of you, every other minute. You have your own distractions – a half read book, an interesting sitcom, a chatty neighbor, your phone with its plethora of social media apps and more.
So how can you be productive given all these constraints? Let me help you with a few effective tips:
• First and foremost, work from home doesn’t mean that you can walk all over the house with your laptop and work from wherever you fancy. Set up a proper workplace in any room of your choice with a table, a comfy chair, basic stationary and whatever else you need!
• Keep your workspace uncluttered! Yes, it is your home, but that doesn’t mean you can have your clothes hanging on your chair or ladles on the table.
• Stick to fixed work timings- say 9 am to 5 pm and so on. Do not deviate from it unless there is an unavoidable emergency and something like a trip to the grocer doesn’t qualify!
• One of the perks of working from home is that you can work in your pajamas. But it helps if you freshen up and dress neatly before you get down to work. You will thank me for this tip when your boss asks for an impromptu video call!
• It is not advisable to work while watching television. You can concentrate on neither and may take longer to complete your work.
• Stick to fixed meals. Staying at home and working doesn’t warranty frequent trips to the kitchen for snacks. It won’t help your work or waistline.
• People who work from home often use Skype, gtalk or similar applications to communicate with colleagues. Do ensure that you have a decent display picture – by which I mean something professional and not a picture taken during your last vacation in Hawaii in a multicolored sarong, slathered in sunscreen!
• During work calls, make sure you don’t have blaring tv, a barking dog, a howling child or other noises in the background. It is a big NO! If you are not the one speaking, mute your mic and listen, until it’s your turn.
• Yes, you are away from your boss’s direct scrutiny but do not get into the habit of carrying out personal errands while working. Maybe, you’re a good multi-tasker and can do your laundry while on a conference call but your lack of focus will eventually show!
If done right, work from home leaves you with a lot of time for hobbies, kids, socializing and more. But if done wrong, it will eat into your time without any productive results at work or leisure at home!
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