A recent study from Stanford University states the average employee can boost productivity by 13% by working from home. This is due to fewer distractions and sick days taken.
The same study states that employees who work from home are less likely to be promoted. Why, you may wonder, would more productive employees not be promoted MORE quickly?
Well, that’s simple. 13% is not a percentage that’s easy to prove. Most employers likely don’t notice a tangible difference in productivity between employers working from home and those who do not. Plus, employees working from home miss out on key networking opportunities.
Let me be clear: I am in favor of higher productivity and working from home. I do, however, think those working from home need to be realistic about the perception and consequences of working from home.
What does this ultimately mean? If you work from home, you need to be sure you don’t lose sight of a few important things.
1. Perception There will always be the perception that you are lucky to be working from home. Let’s face it: you are. Commutes are awful. There are also those who will think you are not working hard because you are at home. Statistically, this is less likely to be true. Just because you may still be in your pajamas doesn’t mean you are not doing the work you’re paid to do. However, it is something you will need to be prepared to face. You’ll have to work hard just to show you’re working hard – and you’ll have to do your job on top of that.
2. Networking Many people value face to face networking opportunities. Working from home means you’ll miss out on many of these. At times, you’ll have to bite the bullet and invite a key client to lunch or travel for a seminar. There’s much to be gained by venturing out of your home from time to time. It will make it easier for you to connect with people and build a rapport.
3. Work Life Balance I know you think this is where I tell you that you’ve got a great work life balance because you work from home. However, because of the perception that you are not working hard, most of the people I know who work from home are quick to answer emails at any time of day or night. They want to show people they’re responsive and hard working. You need to take time for yourself if you want to be sure you don’t burn out. When your home is your work place, it can be hard to put the phone down and enjoy dinner with your family. It’s very worth it to do it though.
4. Deadlines Like with any job, you can’t miss deadlines. Seriously, you cannot afford it when you work from home. However, don’t let people work you all day and night just because you’re at home. You need to meet deadlines but have a backbone. It’s not easy.
5. Expectations of Family Since you work from home, it won’t be surprising if your extended family calls at all hours of the day and your spouse can’t figure out why the house isn’t cleaner. Can’t you just take care of these things in your “down” time? No, not really. You’re working, just like anyone else. Set clear guidelines with your family that working from home does not mean folding laundry and running errands while you’re on the clock. Without this, your tension levels will rise considerably.
Are there any other items you’d add to the list? How do you manage your business from home?