Dreaming of trading the corner office for a home office? You're not alone.
3.7 million people work from home at least half the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics, and 50 percent of American jobs could be done remotely, at least part of the time.
But while it sounds cushy, working from home may not be all it’s cracked up to be. When making the transition from cubicle to kitchen table, it can be a challenge not to lose office productivity when you lose the office.
Here are a few tips to avoid the pitfalls of working remotely.
Draw a line between work and play
Maintaining clear working hours is important for successful remote work, but when your home is your office, it’s easy to forget to unplug. On the other hand, if a friend calls you during work hours, it’s harder to find a reason not to pick up. “Set a clear schedule for your working hours and don't deviate unless you have no other choice,” says Leigh Shulman, a freelance writer based in Argentina.
Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-Chief of Contently, says, “At home, you can justify taking an hour break to watch Netflix because you figure you'll just work a bit later. That's a slippery slope. When I was freelancing a bunch in 2012, "Friday Night Lights" almost ruined my life.” Maintaining a work schedule ensures you keep up productivity, while still being able to enjoying the benefits of working from home.
Anyone out there?
If you’ve spent years commuting to an office, working from home may seem like a dream come true. However, there’s a downside: losing touch with the office and feeling disconnected from co-workers. Kristin Shaw, a freelance writer who has been working from home since 2008, suggests that, “If you are part of a team at a corporate office, be sure you're talking regularly to people in your office base either on the phone or via videoconferencing.” Making time to go in to see your boss and co-workers can make all the difference.
For freelancers, Shaw says, “reach out to other remote workers.” Facebook and Linkedin have groups where freelancers can connect.
We are all at the mercy of technology, and even more so for those using the family computer for work. Shaw’s advice for remote workers: “Find a freelance IT professional nearby who can scrub your laptop of any extraneous stuff that is slowing down your computer on a regular basis.” Shaw also suggests having your own laptop, one that is off limits to the kids, if possible.” Some employers will even provide one.
Yes, it's true — a home office can save you a bundle!
In some cases, you can write off your home office expenses. Deductions are based on the percentage of your home you use for business, but restrictions apply, so check out the IRS guidelines. You can also get a deduction if you are using a separate space like your garage as an office.
Lazauskas also suggests co-working spaces, which “can be totally worth it in added productivity.” Companies like WeWork offer co-working spaces with desks and offices for rent. Prices range from $200 to 900 per month, depending on location.