Posted on April 21, 2010
Filed Under (Advice, General) by jennifer

Working from home has many advantages, including a very short commute (which not only saves time but gas) and flexible hours. But it’s not right for everyone.

To decide if working at or from home is right for you, first ask yourself these three questions: 1) Am I okay being by myself for long stretches of time? 2) Am I disciplined enough, or can I be disciplined enough, to make and keep to a work schedule every day? And 3) Can I be firm with my spouse and children about work time versus play time, and get work done when family is around?

If you answered yes to all three questions, you have what it takes to work from home. But just in case you are nervous about getting started, here are some tips that if followed can make your work-from-home experience a successful and productive one:

* Create an actual home office, using either a spare or seldom-used room or a quiet nook — away from the kids or action — where you can plug in your computer, a monitor, a printer, have Internet access, and a phone.

* If you are going to be making a lot of work-related phone calls, get a second line — using a service like Skype, which is free.

* Use an online calendar (my spouse, an entrepreneur who often works from home, and I use Google Calendar), so you can plan your work week (or month) ahead of time –- and can share your calendar with colleagues and/or family.

* Set some ground rules with your family, so they understand that even though mom or dad is at home, you are working –- and when and how it’s okay to interrupt. (My daughter knows she needs to knock if she needs me or my spouse, who is an entrepreneur with a home office, and that unless it is an emergency, if we are on the phone she needs to wait or write us a note, or send us an instant message.)

* Get dressed every morning as if you are going to work, which you are.

* Make sure you get up and stretch, or walk around, periodically, as being sedentary for long periods of time is unhealthy and unproductive. (Even better, take at least 20 minutes each day to do some exercise, either at home or at your gym.)

* And even though you have a home office, make sure you leave work at the end of the day.

Thinking about taking your small business virtual and having all your employees work from home? Be sure to read the cover story from the May issue of Inc., titled “The Case, and the Plan, for the Virtual Company,” first.

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