Superstorm Sandy shut down public transportation, closed highways, and flooded tunnels, forcing thousands of people to work from home. For some workers, this may have been the most extended period of time that their living room became their office. For that week, they joined the 10 percent of workers, approximately 13.4 million people, who work from home at least some of the time, according to data recently released by the Census Bureau. However, not everyone sees it as an efficient and sustainable way to work.
A recent survey we conducted, found almost half of American professionals admit they have difficulty maintaining productivity when working from the home office.
Here are the top 5 distractions when working from home:
1. Children and family wanting attention (58%)
2. Children, family and pets disturbing work telephone calls (44%)
3. Difficulties accessing office equipment (printer, fax, photocopier (27%)
4. Household noises such as bell ringing, washing machine, dishwasher (25%)
5. Temptation to keep the television on as company (23%)
Despite this unique set of challenges, a combination of advancements in mobile technology making it easier to work from home and many companies looking to reduce real estate costs, means more and more people will find themselves calling their home their office.
Here are 5 tips to improve the work-at-home experience:
· Create Parameters: Set rules with family and friends, and let them know when you are not available. Most importantly, ensure they are aware of any scheduled conference calls in order to limit any background noises or interruptions, so clients don’t feel you’re working in an unprofessional environment.
· Establish a Routine: Working from home can lead to working around the clock. Set blocks of time for work and stick to the schedule. Following a schedule will reduce the chances of burnout. Do not turn on the television during your set working hours, and laundry can wait until after 5 p.m.
· Keep Lines of Communication Open: Maintaining regular contact with colleagues and managers will ensure status of projects and deadlines are understood by all. This means it will keep you motivated to stay ahead while working from home. Use technology like videoconferencing and instant messaging to remain in constant contact.
· Utilize Flexible Workspace Options: Making the right impression with clients is very important. There are flexible options to establish a presence outside the home where you can meet with colleagues and clients, print off large documents in color, focus at a desk as opposed to your couch. These spaces are available by the hour or day.
· Avoid Isolation: Feeling out of touch? Leave your home office drop in to a collaborative work environment, attend networking events and plan business lunches. These are a great place to connect and network with other professionals.