Home-field advantage?

Working from your house filled with benefits, pitfalls

Posted: Sunday, January 15, 2006

Most employees will tell you they'd love to be able to work from home. It sounds so good in theory - working in your pajamas, avoiding rush-hour traffic, no run-ins with the office gossip monger - but the truth is that making the most of this perk is actually quite a challenge.

"If you are going to work from home, you need to create an environment that will allow you to operate in a businesslike manner," says Mary Barrett, author of "21 Steps To Survival" (Lulu Press, $21.95). "The first thing you should do is set up an office that's separate from the rest of your home."

Separate lives

Start by creating an atmosphere that you enjoy working in and keeping it well organized - don't try and multi-task with doing the laundry.

"This will prevent distractions," says Barrett. "Keep all relevant business materials labeled in file cabinets and baskets for easy access."

Kristin Resinski works from her home in Bucks County, Pa., as the director of human resources for the Princeton Search Group. She agrees that staying organized and on-task is the single most important aspect to working from home.

"I prefer to be very proactive," she says. "I don't like waking up in the morning not knowing what needs to be taken care of."

Fresh start

Even though one of the reasons people love to work from home is to avoid dressing up in business attire, it's hard to stay focused on work if you're in your pajamas all day.

"To stay motivated and not cut yourself off from the outside world, you need to wake up early, eat breakfast, shower and dress in comfortable clothes before entering your home office," says Barrett. "It will make you feel like you are going somewhere, even though it may be to the other side of the house."

Workplace conditions

Just because you're not in the office doesn't mean you can't abide by a regular workday schedule.

"Set up hours of operation and post your business hours on your Web site," says Barrett. "Let friends and family know you are running a business and ask them to respect it by not interrupting you unless it's absolutely necessary."

- Rob Kallick

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