Not everyone realizes this, but I work from home full time, as do several NASPP staff members. I’ve worked from home since my first day on the job, almost 16 years ago. For this holiday week, I thought I’d take a break from modification accounting and instead offer a few strategies for working from home that I’ve learned over the years.
When you start your day, make sure you know what your top priorities are: what has to get done, what would you like to get done, and what can wait until tomorrow. It’s easy to lose focus when you are at home; knowing your priorities can keep you on task throughout the day.
When you work from home it can be tempting to rely almost exclusively on email to communicate with colleagues. But email can be time consuming and doesn’t allow for true collaboration. Phone calls and yes, even meetings, can be valuable communication tools, especially for anything that is complex, where tone might be important, or where multiple people need to weigh in.
Since no one can see you, you could theoretically work all night and sleep all day (except for meetings). But your coworkers are going to notice if you never answer your phone and it always takes several hours for you to respond to emails.
It’s hard to work on a laptop. When I’m at home, my laptop is docked: I use a full-size keyboard, a mouse, and a good-sized monitor, and a desk with lots of room for books and file storage (gotta keep the NCEO books, tax regs, and FASB pronouncements handy). I love my hands-free headset; I couldn’t survive a day of meetings without it. A comfortable chair is also a must. If you are only working at home occasionally, you can get by with your laptop at your kitchen table. But if you are going to work at home for any length of time, it’s helpful to have a comfortable workspace that is for your use only.
They are quiet and undemanding and rarely interrupt during meetings. Usually they are just happy to be in the same room as you. But don’t forget to feed them before your noon meeting starts.
Find what works for you. There’s a lot of advice out there about working from home, but not all of it will makes sense for you. For example, I’ve never felt the need to dress up like I would if going to an office, schedule breaks, or have an end of the day routine, but those strategies are very helpful for some people.