Work From Home, Don't Get Fired! 14 Tips
CAREEREALISM-Approved Expert, Mary Sevinsky
Overall, working from home can be a positive and rewarding experience for you, your family, and your employer, if you follow a few simple tips:
1. Understand your employer’s expectations.
Will your job requirements and duties be the same at home as in an office environment? How much support will you receive as a home office worker. Some companies have very stringent guidelines about what equipment and support will be provided by the company and what they will not. Companies will often provide a computer and telephone and will support each, but not a printer or a fax machine, for example. It is important to clarify where your company stands and what they are willing to negotiate on.
2. Be sure you meet and exceed your employer’s expectations.
You should also make sure your boss knows you are in fact consistently meeting and/or exceeding his/her expectations. You may work 9, 10, 12 hours a day, but it won’t matter if your boss doesn’t know it or you don’t get the anticipated results! How will you communicate your efforts and results to your employer? Don’t rely on them to evaluate this. Your performance, or lack thereof, may not come up until there is a need for a scapegoat or something goes wrong.
3. Set up a comfortable, separate space for your work area.
This is critical to your success as a home-worker. Your space should be relatively free from distractions such as family, pets, home telephone, the television, even an attractive view if you are new to telecommuting. You should have a good quality chair and large monitor if you are primarily working at the computer (who isn’t!).
4. Make sure you have everything you need to do your job at home.
A computer, workstation, phone, printer and fax are a given. BUT, you will also need paper, ink cartridges (you would be surprised how quickly these seem to need to be replaced, even in a “paperless” environment), possibly letterhead, pens, sticky pads, etc. Think about many of the things you use in your office and the well stocked supply cabinet there. Will you visit the office periodically to replenish these common items or purchase them and be reimbursed. Iron this out in advance.
5. Set boundaries with your family and friends.
This is pivotal not only to your success at working from home, but to your personal relationships! When you first begin telecommuting, friends and family may not understand the demands this requires of you. A friend whose sitter cancels may call you for a favor, “Can you watch the kids, since you are working at home?” You may get invitations to lunch or drinks, which down the road you may evaluate you can work into your schedule periodically. In the beginning, you need to be careful to set a tone for your family and friends as well as good work habits for yourself.
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6. Set specific work times or goals: Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and beyond.
Goals are important to keep you on track, as well as to validate your progress. Working at home can be very positive in terms of autonomy and independence, but it can be lonely and unfulfilling without the regular feedback that comes from working in an office. The telecommuter needs to feel confident he or she is doing what is necessary to be viewed as successful and to feel secure in his or her job. Paranoia can set in pretty quickly without the regular input of fellow coworkers.
7. Stay connected.
It may be a good idea to start out telecommuting just a day or two a week and increase gradually from there. This will provide you the opportunity to slowly transition how you will communicate in a more natural way. You will find you and your coworkers may email or call more often to stay in touch. You will determine which issues and/or coworkers to attend to and which to not. Increased productivity due to decreased coworker distraction may be a major benefit to working from home.