How to Work from Home – A Business Owner’s Guide

If you’re having to work from home for the first time you may face some unexpected challenges. Here are six things you can do to ease the transition and maintain your productivity.

Working from home is a dream for many people. But for business owners who have been operating their businesses from commercial space, transitioning to working from home can be difficult and stressful.

Handling workflow, struggling with motivation (yours and your employees) and not having the tools you need for the job are all challenges you may face when working from home. But like other challenges you face as a business owner, you can find ways to sidestep the problems and find productive ways to run your business from home.

Here are six top working from home tips to keep in mind:

1. Designate a specific area in your home for work

You can work from almost anywhere with a notebook computer, but if possible, it’s better to set up shop in a specific location in your house or apartment.  A desk or table and work chair are best if you have such space available. Sitting in a soft living room chair and looking down into your laptop, or reaching from your couch across to a coffee table to use your notebook computer will give you a stiff neck or back after a while.

There are both practical and psychological benefits to creating a distinct work area at home. From a practical standpoint, when you work from just one place, you can keep all the documents, notes or other items you need in one place, so you can find them quickly. That will let you be more productive working from home.

From a psychological standpoint, restricting your business activities to a single location helps you do a better job of separating work and home life and reducing distractions. It’s all too easy to spend too much time working, or on the flip side, get distracted by children, the TV, or other things. Similarly, keeping restricting your business activities to a single area will help your family to remember to leave you alone unless there’s an urgent problem.

2. Set working hours

Set specific hours to start work and stop work. To manage your business well from home, you need to manage your time. If you don’t, you may find yourself working from dawn to midnight. Alternately, you may find so many distractions at home, that you wind up spending far less time than you should on your business. Neither outcome is helpful to your or your employees. You and they both need set schedules. easy to feel so excited at the prospect of managing your own hours that you don’t do a very good job of managing them at all.

If you will need to juggle children’s needs with your business needs, a good work at home tip is determine what times when you have to be available to your employees or customers, and what times of the day or night you can work without interacting with others.  

3. Create rules with your family members

The excitement of you being home may cause confusion in your household. Your kids, spouse, or neighbors may assume that since you’re not at work, you aren’t working – and the distractions will come in thick and fast. Those distractions will reduce your focus and productivity and increase your stress levels.

Solve the problem by establishing some basic rules with the other people in your space. Let them know when it’s okay to engage you in conversation, and when it’s not. It’s okay to put your foot down.

4. Set a break policy for yourself at home.

If you haven’t worked from home on a daily basis before, you may end up heading in one of two directions: working so hard that you forget to take a break, or taking an extended break… all day.

The easiest way to prevent this is to assign yourself break times.  Take time when you would usually do so mid-morning. Follow your usual lunch break routine, and take a short break in the afternoon, as well. This will help you adhere to a routine. If you’re working at a desk, be sure to get out of your chair and move around during your break time.

5. Get out and about

In the same way that chaining yourself to your office desk is a terrible idea, staying within the four walls of your temporary home office is inadvisable. Cabin fever will inevitably ensue, and you’ll find yourself so restless that it’ll take you an hour to reply to a single email.

Use your lunch break to get away from your computer screen and head outside if you can, even if it’s just for a walk around the block. The fresh air and natural light will re-energize you for the day’s tasks at hand.

6. Keep in touch with your team.

Staying in touch with your team is particularly important when normal work routines and locations have changed. Email, project management cloud apps, and online conferencing and chat applications make it possible for you and your staff to communicate with one another and keep work on track without being in the same physical location.

It may feel a little like you’re pestering other members of your team, but it’s important to make up for what would usually be verbal inter-office communication. Having routines and project tracking capability will help your employees stay focused on the work they need to get done, too.

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