Working from home is a growing trend in the US and Europe and is rapidly catching up in Asia and Australia. People who work from home are generally categorized as Telecommuters. This means, they “commute” to their workplace only through “telecommunications.”
According to Gallup Survey, the number of telecommute workers has surged worldwide by some 34 percent during this decade as compared to the earlier one. Gallup’s figures are corroborated by findings of US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According BLS figures for 2015-2016, some twenty four percent of America’s working population consisted of work-from-home or telecommute employees.
Figures in Europe and elsewhere in the world vary between two and five percent of the working population. Work from home jobs, are indeed excellent. However, you need to follow some basic tenets required to become a successful telecommute employee.
Working from home is pleasurable and allows you flexibility of choosing work hours. But done without proper consideration and planning, it can turn nightmarish and land you in financial doldrums.
Here we explore ways and means to work from home without losing your mind.
Rule-1: Stick to Your Field
This is the first rule before you consider working from home. Never leave an office job to work from home, should it involve leaving your particular field of specialization.
The same adage holds true for fresher who wishes to try a work from home option, while studying or upon graduation. Leaving your chosen profession and venturing into a relatively newer segment leads to severe problems.
More time will be spent on learning ropes of the new field, leaving you lesser hours for actually executing a required job. If you have scant knowledge of the new field, your performance will reflect the same, causing loss of earnings or even employment.
Rule-2: Define Your Office Hours
Understandably, working from home offers immense flexibility in work schedule. You enjoy some degree of freedom to select the hours for work. This can be a deadly trap for those who have to juggle between domestic, social and work commitments.
On certain days, you may be saddled with domestic or social responsibilities and unable to dedicate much time to your work that fetches income. Hence, it is advisable to define your own office hours. Adhere to this work schedule as though you are attending an office.
Instead of taking time off from your work schedule, allot the hours and minutes you save by avoiding commuting and meal breaks for household and social commitments.
This discipline can help you work from home efficiently and without losing your mind by prancing between assorted responsibilities. Also, define proper hours for rest and recreation in the 24-hour day.
Rule-3: Enforce Telephone Discipline
There are several reasons why employers enforce strict laws on making or taking personal phone calls during work hours. Firstly, they tend to distract you from work at hand. Secondly, unpleasant news or arguments with family members or friends can leave you stressed and affect work.
Thirdly, phone calls cause a loss of precious man-hours that would otherwise be productive for the employer. And finally, the employer is paying you for time spent at the office and work you perform. Working from home frees you from the telephone discipline enforced by employers.
Hence, you may be tempted to attend to personal phone calls from relatives, friends or social circle. You can overcome this temptation by enforcing a strict discipline related to phone calls while working from home.
Ask your spouse or other family members to attend to all phone calls and only assign you those directly related to your work. Distractions while working from office are same as those while performing a job from home.
Rule-4: Assess Productivity Daily
Unless you are extra cautious, it is very easy for work-from-home employees to slip into the quagmire called complacency. This means, you may be tempted to postpone full or part of your work for a day to the next day or plan to complete it by spending some extra hours.
In most cases, such procrastination leads to loss of productivity and sometimes, physical and mental fatigue caused by overwork on a certain day. Tiredness affects your performance on ensuing days too.
Therefore, it is advisable to create your own work reports for the day. Assess your productivity daily and find whether you lag behind schedules set by an employer.
Additionally, try and step up daily productivity to ensure you complete work from home before set schedules. This leaves you some spare time for rest and relaxation and offers opportunities to do some part-time work for extra income.
Rule-5: Keep Distractions at Bay
Other than phone calls, there are innumerable distractions for people who work from home. These creep in form of favorite TV shows, social or religious events, family gatherings and functions on weekdays, personal work at the bank, schools, insurance, vehicle maintenance workshops and myriad others.
They take away valuable time from your daily work hours while performing a job from home. Instead of taking time from your work hours, delegate spouse or a relative to attend to external work that is important.
You can attend only those tasks where your personal presence is absolutely necessary such as a bank or court work. You can also ask someone to record your favorite TV shows to watch later, during leisure hours. TV shows and movies alter your mood and are the biggest distraction to work from home.
There are some more steps you can take to work from home without losing your mind. One of these is by keeping yourself free on weekends and public holidays.
Instead of working your guts out on these days, spend quality time with family and friends, just as you would do while attending office daily.
Another step is to designate an area within your home that can be utilized as an office and is insulated from routine household functions and distractions that occur during work hours. Keep an electric kettle at your designated office to avoid the bother of venturing into the kitchen.
If you can afford, also include a small refrigerator for soft drinks and snacks you can consume while working. These few steps can make working from home enjoyable and prevent losing your mind. Maintain sanctity of this “office” at your home, just as you would with a proper office outside.
Working from home has several inherent benefits as various surveys and studies have found. In the US, for example, telecommuters or home-based workers save up to US$ 4,000 per year they would otherwise have spent on commuting between home and office.
Handled properly, work from home helps you perform better and benefit from incentives and salary increments from employers. The above steps are designed to help you work from home without losing your mind and making the best of the opportunity.
Additionally, working from home also means you have the benefit of traveling on vacations at will, with family and friends. You can work even while on vacation since all these work from home jobs are usually not location specific.
Modern technology now also makes it possible to work from home simply through a smart-phone, using specific apps, if permitted by your employer.