If you’re not used to working from home, the sudden blurring of boundaries can disrupt your work life balance. Kay Hill offers some tips for keeping on track.
If you have been used to a regular working life where what happens in the office stays in the office, then working from home can be quite psychologically disruptive. Many self-employed people choose this way of life because they enjoy the freedom, but with many employed people now finding themselves suddenly working from home, setting clear boundaries and expectations is vital.
Have a clear, written agreement in place with your employer about times of work.
Bosses who are used to keeping a close eye on their staff find homeworking disconcerting, and will probably want to know you are at your desk the same hours as usual. Others may be happy for you to vary your normal start and finish times to allow for home-schooling children or will agree you can do a certain number of hours a day when you can work most easily.
When fixed hours have been agreed, you need to stick to them.
So no nipping off to Tesco or watching Netflix during work time! But equally, you shouldn’t feel obligated to reply to emails and calls outside of those hours either. You might find it useful to set an out-of-office message on your email or a do-not-disturb on your phone in the evenings.
Be flexible and assertive.
If you are working totally flexibly, the trade-off for the freedom to work when you want tends to be the expectation that you are working all the time. A quick reply acknowledging receipt of a request and stating when you will be available to start on it keeps everyone informed and can reduce tensions.
If possible, set up a home office that is not in your bedroom or lounge.
Using a spare room, study or dining room means you can shut the door at the end of your shift and walk away, rather than having unfinished tasks staring at you all evening.
Dress to impress.
Some people find it psychologically helpful to dress in their usual work clothes to get themselves into their work persona. It’s difficult to feel like a master of the universe when you’re sitting there in a onesie!