Working From Home? Follow These Rules.
There are very few subjects upon which I consider myself an expert.
Come to think of it, there may be only one: Working from home.
I did it for more than a decade. And I was damned good at it. Or at least I was excellent at staying away from the office.
According to a Gallup poll, 43 percent of all employed Americans occasionally “work remotely.” That’s impressive considering there are a number of jobs that simply can’t be done from home.
Welding, comes to mind. Brain surgery. Car repairs. Bartending. Law enforcement. Waitressing.
On top of that, some experts predict that within the next decade one third of all full-time employees will work out of their homes.
It’s not a perfect arrangement. Trust me. There can be problems with social isolation. But if we’re honest, most of us will admit we don’t like people as much as we pretend we do. There is a glorious sense of relief that comes with no longer being forced to interact with the office idiot.
Especially if the office idiot is your boss.
Working from home also reduces waste. Time and gas aren’t wasted on commuting. There’s no money wasted on work clothes. No loot wasted on lunches. No time wasted around the proverbial water cooler.
I can’t remember exactly when I started working from home as a newspaper columnist. It was definitely incremental. I began with one day a week and as the years went by, I went into the office less and less. In the last few years, I almost never worked there at all. We went through three editors while I was a columnist and I just told each one when they asked that the working from home was my “deal” with the previous editor.
No one challenged me. It was great. Oh, and as a bonus, I rarely met new employees, so when they were laid off or quit I didn’t feel sad.
Totally a plus.
If you’re thinking about working from home, there are rules. Ignore them at your peril.
- Do not work in the kitchen. There’s simply too much food there. One cookie turns into a dozen and the next thing you know you’re buying elastic-waist pants and colorful caftans.
- Wherever you work in the home, face away from the windows. There are too many distractions outside. I live near the ocean. The sight of people skipping down the street with beach chairs tormented me on summer days. Until I literally turned my back on them.
- Do not do housework while you’re home. You don’t want your spouse thinking of you as a housewife or househusband. You work there. It’s your office.
- Do not allow family members use you for personal errands just because you’re at the homestead all day. Let ‘em pick up their own dry cleaning. Fill their own prescriptions. Sign for their own packages. Nothing must interrupt your work flow.
- Do not answer the home phone. The only people calling are pollsters and aged relatives. You don’t have time for either.
- Definitely don’t answer the doorbell. It’s either friends without jobs - time wasters - or criminals. If it’s the latter, think how surprised they’ll be to see you standing there with a butcher knife when they climb in the window.
- Take daily showers. Yes, even though you don’t have co-workers to smell you. Your family will appreciate it. Besides, it’s difficult to sound professional on the phone when you’re wearing your pajamas and haven’t brushed your teeth.
- If you have small, yapping dogs, put them in a kennel in another room when using the phone. Nothing says “I’m not serious” quite like a barking dog in the background. Same goes for small children, although for them, use a playpen.
- Put on clean clothes and makeup every day. If you’re a guy, shave. You never know when your grumpy boss is going to summon you to the office and you don’t want to tell him or her you need a couple of hours to freshen up.
- Absolutely no day drinking. It’s tempting, I know. And no one can smell your breath or see you stumble. But it’s a risky idea. If the boss demands face time, you don’t want to get a DUI on your way in. That would ruin it for everybody.