While I understand that it’s not every organization's optimal plan to have their sales executives and revenue generating employees work out of a home office, away from daily supervision, I must say that for this Search Executive, I'm not at all sure I could ever work in a corporate office on a regular basis again.
Well at least I know, that I would be hard pressed to achieve the same level of productivity I do currently from the ‘corner office’ located just across from my master bedroom. And hey – CEO or not, the cost in terms of overhead is non-existent, who doesn’t love that? (just kills the idea of multiple guest rooms). My virtual team members also like the fact that they have total control over their office decor.
Home Office Pros and Cons
For many, working from home can be a much better alternative to sitting in a cube all day. Think about it - you don’t have the distractions of meetings that need not be held, office gossip around the cooler, or taking off for an hour lunch that turns into two with your colleagues.
That being said, it is my whole hearted belief that one can either work from a home office or they can't. I do not believe there are any true gray areas when it comes to complete physical autonomy with no supervision, with the possible exception of check in phone calls...and no, a "Nanny Cam" is not an alternative!
Home Office Rules For Success
For anyone who is only just starting this “home office” model, the initial days tend to be the most difficult. The rules I am about to share will at least help you and/or your future hires get on the right track to working successfully in a home office environment if they have never done it thus far.
1) Decide on and organize your workspace
It's important to decide which portion of your house will be called your home office and then organize it. Even if a laptop is enough for you to work make sure that you have a desk for yourself and, if you live with your family, try to keep it in a place which is separate from the hustle and bustle of your home. I know this from experience considering my office, albeit lovely to work in, is sandwiched in between the master bedroom and my eight year old daughter's room with only a small hallway and a main foyer separating the two.
Just yesterday I had to explain to the SVP of Sales for a highly regarded software company why there was a whistling sound in the background. Of course it was Olivia having a miraculous recovery from her sick day off from school and practicing her recorder. There is also the challenge of FedEx and barking dogs, particularly those of you that have smaller breeds. While it may "humanize" us to our clients, it also can be very distracting. Okay, let's move on now...
The fact that you can stay up late and not HAVE TO wake up at 6 AM is really amazing, however, it can be risky. Make sure you fix those core working hours in a manner that allows you to complete your work while maintaining a work/life balance. If it works for your company's overall structure, work when you are most productive, but also be sure you are available during customer interfacing hours if that is your main focus.
3) Educate your family about the change in lifestyle
This is very important for those who don't live alone. Once you have set your work hours, take time to sit down with your family (particularly your kids) and discuss the "rules". Also make them realize the importance of your work and why you should not be disturbed during your work hours. The fact that you are always at home should not imply that you are always available. This can tend to be an enormous challenge for some.
4) Educate your friends too
Eventually, your friends and neighbors will come to know that you work from home, but what they won't understand easily is that you are "working!" from home. This could mean a friend dropping by when you are busy and asking you out for coffee or beer (or in my case a mani/pedi!). Don't let such a conflicting situation arise. Make sure your buddies know that your work hours are for work, and that you cannot be interrupted on a regular basis.
5) Manage distractions
Try not to get distracted. While it's true that you may be doing a load or two of laundry in between interviews and conference calls, if you are in "the zone" and then taken out of it, it is extremely difficult to get your "mojo" back for the day. I'm not saying you should have no distractions whatsoever, but do your best to limit them. For instance, while I have a very nice flat screen in my office, it RARELY ever comes on. I watch it almost exclusively when there is a big news story or on the weekends. The point is that you need to manage things which could pull you away from your priority tasks.
So the bottom line is not to be stressed, and to get your job done...enjoy life as well as the freedom of working from home if you are disciplined enough to do so! But for goodness sakes, if you simply don't have that willpower in your DNA, then please don't even think of working from home if you have never done so - your new, wonderful position will be short lived at best. If you can’t say Yea, just say No Way!
To your success! ... Kristin