With so many brick-and-mortar workplaces shuttering or downsizing, it seems that telecommuting is here to stay. Whether you work for yourself or for a large corporation, you’ll likely find that moving out of a traditional office space can be an easy transition. Here are some things to plan for when your home becomes your office.
Evaluate Your Work Area
Ideally, your home will have an entire room that can be converted into your office, perhaps a den or a bedroom that’s been vacated by a college-bound teen. Barring that, any part of your house with the right features can become a serviceable workstation. Look for a place in your home with good lighting; natural light from windows or skylights is preferable as it can keep you from feeling boxed in. You’ll also want to find a quiet spot away from household traffic and noise; if there’s a door you can close, so much the better. Nothing can ruin your concentration like a blaring television or bickering offspring.
While loud noises and conversations might be distracting, some sound such as soft music can help wash out background noises around your home and make you feel less isolated. Ensuring that you’ll have adequate space for your work tools is an important consideration as well; you’ll need enough room to spread out while still having easy access to your equipment and files. It’s also important to be comfortable in your home workspace, so investing in a quality office chair that protects your posture may be a smart move.
Determine Your Technology Needs
Before settling into your new office, make sure it’s the right place to set up all of your work technology. Is there an adequate number of outlets for your equipment, and are there stable surfaces for your printer and scanner? Remember that you’ll want to use surge protectors for your electronic devices. Will you be in range of your router so your internet connection is fast enough? There are websites that let you test your bandwidth to make sure your upload and download speeds can handle your volume of work. If your office is far away from your router, you may want to invest in an extender to increase its reach.
You’ll also need to make sure you’re prepared to communicate with coworkers and clients remotely. Be geared up for video conferencing by having an up-to-date webcam, and consider a hands-free headset so you can multitask while in meetings or on calls. You might also think about engaging a virtual answering service so your calls are picked up even when you’re not available. Resources like VoiceNation can provide you with a customer service professional to accept all of your incoming calls 24 hours a day.
Decide How You’ll Interact With Visitors
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns about working from home is how you will handle face-to-face meetings with your clients or colleagues. While video chats are becoming increasingly common, there will still likely be times you’ll need to meet in real life. When working from home, you no longer have the luxury of using the company conference room for customer or vendor meetings. If an in-person gathering must be arranged, let others know your circumstances and inquire if you might link up at your client’s office going forward. If that’s not feasible, consider meeting at a restaurant or coffee house that will still afford you a measure of privacy.
If hosting meetings in your home doesn’t seem unprofessional in your line of work, determine if you have an appropriate place to do so. Any quiet, tidy place can do the trick, and you may find that in a home environment people communicate with greater ease and candor than in a stuffy office setting. Just be sure that noisy or obtrusive household tasks are on hold during your meeting; you might even bribe your family to stay away for a few hours in order to keep the peace.
Telecommuting is quickly becoming the norm, and with a few considerations it can work out well for almost anyone. If you have an appropriate setting for working on your own as well as meeting with others, and your home can handle your technology needs, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful remote worker.