•           Home
  • Getting Started
  • Working at Home
  • Productivity
  • Grammar & Spelling
  • Research
  • Text Expanders
  • Earnings Calls
  • Product Reviews
  • Podcasts
  • About

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Telecommuting: Balance with Friends and Family

One of the hardest parts about working from home can often be the people around you in your everyday environment. Your spouse, your children, the neighbors, your mom calling on the phone to chat – these can all be the major hindrances in your quest to make that deadline, hit your goal or catch up on administrative tasks. This article from the Utah governor's website addresses a few ways to deal with the common interruptions and objections you may face in a telecommuting environment.

Family, Friends, and Neighbors

You will need to let everyone around you know in advance that you are at home working and still have the same responsibilities that you normally have in the office. Expect some teasing. You will have to gently and persistently break down the idea that you are not really working.

Hold a family council

Before you start telecommuting, gather all the family members together to explain the changes. Set ground rules on work time, interruptions, office boundaries, and use of equipment and supplies. Remember, state equipment and supplies can be used only according to the policies of your department.

Have family members help set some of the house rules so they can buy into the arrangement. Hold a follow-up council to see how well the arrangement and house rules are working for everyone.

Are interruptions ok?

Decide when family or friends can interrupt your work and for what reasons. Sometimes a requested favor or question can be just the break you need. On the other hand, everyone needs to understand that you are working. You cannot become the regular neighborhood "drop off" or playmate. Develop a signal that communicates when you are working and not available for interruptions, such as a closed door.

Stay friends

Neighbors may think that it is alright to ask you for favors or errands because you are at home. If it comes up, deal with it immediately and assertively. Be calm and frank in letting them know you are working and you will not be able to accommodate their requests.

Problems at home

Telecommuting will not solve problems at home. If family members cannot adjust to or resent the telecommuting arrangement, it will not work. Even if the family accepts telecommuting, it is wise to avoid scheduling days when there might be friction at home.

I have found that being firm in your insistence that you really are working each and every time you are interrupted helps set the precedent for the next time something comes up. It's all right to answer the phone to find out what someone is calling for, and talking for a few minutes on a break is not unacceptable. However, when your break is over, make sure you end the call and let the person know you should be getting back to work. Not only will it keep you on task to meet that deadline or project goal, but it will also convey your seriousness and dedication to your job.