Working from home sounds like the perfect dream. No more traffic and dress codes, with increased work-life balance and flexibility.

In South Africa, it has been estimated that one third of employees are working outside of their company offices.

However, in reality, it is easy to lose the balance between personal and work obligations when structure is lacking and self-discipline is required. We believe that the following five aspects need to be in place before attempting to work from home.

      1. Set boundaries with others

Let family and friends know that, even though you are working from home, this does not mean you are available. Just like when you work from the office, interruptions should be left for urgent matters only. Once you have informed people of your boundaries, ensure that you stick to them. That way people will understand you are serious. If personal commitments need to be completed, set aside a specific amount of time for it, just like you would for a meeting.

      2. Set working hours

If you do not set clear times for work, it is easy to end up fulfilling personal commitments during the day. This is likely to create guilt regarding time spent working and is likely to impact productivity negatively.  A good heuristic to use is to ask yourself: “If I were at the office, would I be doing this?” A survey conducted by an organisation who designs technology for remote working found that a quarter of employees admitted to having an alcoholic beverage while working from home. This does not mean that you have to set your hours from 9h00-17h00. Choose hours where you feel you work the best.

      3. Clearly mark out your workspace

Ensure that there is a place at home that is strictly demarcated for work. This way people know when you are working and you know that, when you are at your desk, you need to focus. If you were to work in front of the TV, for example, the likelihood of distractions increases tremendously. If possible, do not place your desk in your bedroom and do not work in bed. This is likely to reduce quality sleep due to the mental confusion between home and work. Let your bedroom be only used for sleep.

      4. Create a daily to-do list

For people working outside of their office environment, the trap of procrastination is easy to get caught in. One way of creating structure is to make a to-do list every morning. Having a list demonstrates what needs to be completed by the end of your working day. So too, be realistic and take into account the likelihood of disruptions. Your list should also include planned break times.

      5. “Leave” work

People who work at the office are able to leave work and go home. Working from home does not make this easy. Just because you are working from home does not mean you have to work all the time. Using your working hours as a guide, make sure you stop working at some point. This will make the distinction between home and work clearer.

References:

Amabile, T. & Kramer, S. (2013). Working from Home: A Work in Progress. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/07/working-from-home-a-work-in-pr

Griffis, H. (2017). The Science Behind Why We Should Never Work From Bed. Buffer. Retrieved from https://open.buffer.com/work-bed/

Saunders, E.G. (2017). How to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/09/how-to-stay-focused-when-youre-working-from-home

Zalaiskalns, V. (2017). The Rise of the Remote Workforce: A South African Perspective. Ventureburn. Retrieved from http://ventureburn.com/2017/02/rise-remote-workforce-sa-perspective/

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