Working from home sounds like the ideal work-life balance option, but how do you do it without losing momentum or your sanity? Here are some tips.
With roughly one million Australians working from home and about a quarter of our workforce in a flexible working arrangement for an employer, it makes sense to get your game plan right to avoid the endless distractions that can shake your motivation.
There are a multitude of benefits that come with setting up shop at home, such as reducing transport costs, while parents can be close to their child’s schools and childcare centres.
Virgin founder Richard Branson is famously quoted as never having worked a day in an office in his life. With the huge advancements in remote technology, home workers can turn their home office into a thriving hub of information and interaction through email, social media and live web chats if they choose.
If you’re doing something you love, success often follows that passion. Many Australian fashion brands, such as Tyro customer Camilla, Mimco and Zimmermann, founded their flourishing trade in their own backyard or parents’ garage.
There are a multitude of Australian ‘mummy blogs’, such as Stay At Home Mum, The Organised Housewife and Crash Test Mummy, which have seen parents turn their own lives into successful businesses, where they earn money for their blogs through advertising and social networking.
Not having the chatter and disruptions that come with a bustling office environment may be appealing, but fine-tuning your enthusiasm and remaining focused without being able to bounce ideas off like-minded people can get in the way of a productive day. So how do you keep up the enthusiasm to succeed?
1. Time management is key
Make time to work and stick to it. Perhaps writing a timetable is the best way to ensure you have a productive day. Don’t let housework or a trip to the fridge get in the way of work. If you know you’re easily distracted, write down your tea and lunch breaks and be rigid about them.
For sanity’s sake, organise time for yourself. Perhaps block out an hour each day for exercise to release ‘inspiration-making’ endorphins. And stay in the loop with friends, family and other professionals. If you have young kids, plan regular play dates for social interaction.
Try not to keep working after hours as you’re likely to lose interest in your job if you’d rather be relaxing with family.
2. Turn your lack of commuting into coin
Not having to travel to work brings many cost savings. Minimising your corporate wardrobe and downsizing your dry-cleaning bills is another money-saving benefit to working from home. Now you have the extra time, where you’re not travelling to work or dashing past the coffee shop to spend another $4 on a latte, you can use it to check your emails or go over your daily to-do list in peace and quiet.
3. Find the support you need
The Queensland Government is leading the way with $1 million worth of support for home-based workers, with grants of up to $5000 each for budding entrepreneurs. With the majority of the ‘at home’ workforce being women, community-based networks, such as AusMumpreneur, recognise that women often leave the workforce to raise a family, which can be isolating for successful women who’ve lived and breathed their careers until the birth of their children.
There are plenty of opportunities to expand your professional reach. Join a corporate network and attend the monthly meetings and seminars. Stay inspired by meeting people who complement your business through LinkedIn or other online networks.
4. Create the ideal workspace
This is the place you’re going to earn a living to help support your household, so let your family know that this space is your work zone. Assess what furniture and equipment you need, then shop around for the best prices. If you’re short on cash, Gumtree is great for second-hand filing cabinets and office desks.
Choose some inspirational images or décor, such as an oxygenating plant, and try to locate your desk as close to natural light as possible. At the end of your workday, close your diary and shut down your computer so your work doesn’t blend into your home life.
5. Equip yourself with knowledge
Remember that working from home doesn’t mean you can chat to clients like you’re sitting on the couch together. You need to maintain a professional image for people and potential clients to take you seriously.