Home free – 5 essential tips to setting up a successful home office
Through the phone, all I could hear was an inexplicably raucous cacophony of hysterically screaming babies, uncontrolled laughter and what appeared to be unfeasibly loud chirping. Somehow, through the din, I made out the voice of our contractor:
“Mate, can I give you a buzz back in 5?” came the surprisingly calm request. Unnervingly so, given that by the sounds of it, the Zombie Apocalypse appeared to have commenced in rather spectacular, utterly chaotic fashion on the other end of the line.
“Yeah, no worries.” I responded uneasily before the line went abruptly dead.
Three minutes later, the call came back. The same unflappable voice, now unhindered by the cataclysmic background noise, continued where we had left off without seeming to have skipped a beat. After we’d covered the areas we needed to discuss, I couldn’t help but enquire:
“What was going on back there, mate?
“Ah, well, the 4-month-old woke up prematurely from her nap, so I had her yelling blue murder in my free hand. Meanwhile, the 2-year-old was unimpressed at having to share my attention, so she was hanging off my leg howling like a banshee, while the budgie flew onto my head and was looking down squawking at the pair of them, just as my missus walked into the room, took one look at me trying to conduct a business call with all that going and promptly burst out laughing.”
“Geez, sounds like complete chaos!” I winced.
“Nah, all good, mate. All part of the joy of working from home.”
As insane as that all sounds, this contractor runs a sizeable, highly successful business serving dozens of high-profile corporations, all from his home office. While he might be living proof of the old adage never to work with children or animals, I know that he wouldn’t have it any other way. The flexibility, freedom, convenience and heightened work-life balance of telecommuting or running a business from home are proving hugely attractive to a new generation of workers fed up with the traditional commute to a 9-to-5 office gig. Adding momentum to this shift is a wealth of research indicates that people who work from home are actually significantly more productive than their office-bound counterparts.
This is not to say that it’s not without its challenges, as I found out during that chaotic phone call. However, with careful planning, good organisational practices and a bit of discipline, it can be a highly rewarding and successful option for many. Let’s look at a few tips to making the home office work.
Arguably the most critical step is to ensure that you have a dedicated workspace set aside which is used exclusively for business purposes. Ideally, it should be in an isolated area of the house that can be closed off to minimise distractions. Fitting out this space with everything you need to function productively will ensure that when you step into that office, you’re mind switches firmly into work mode.
If you’re running a business from home, what do you do when you need to meet with potential new clients, partners or collaborators? Are you sure you want your home address on your website, email signature and business cards? In a world where Google Maps Street View reigns, is that the way you want people to see you? However expertly you’ve set up your home workspace, it just won’t cut it when you’re trying to create a professional corporate image. That’s precisely where an APSO virtual office comes into play. With a premium, up-market address to splash across your marketing collateral, professional virtual receptionist service to answer and forward calls, take messages and process mail, nobody need know that you’re sitting in a quiet suburban domicile. Best of all, APSO virtual office solutions provide you with access to a range of superbly appointed meeting rooms to utilise for those all-important meetings and project the right corporate image.
However much effort you put into creating your home-office cocoon, it’s inevitable that distraction will occur. With nobody looking over your shoulder, the temptation will always be there to allow your focus to wander. It’s therefore critical to ensure that you organise and manage your time as effectively as possible. Spend a few moments each morning to plan your daily schedule and stick to it as rigidly as you can. Utilise online time-tracking tools to ensure that you are completing tasks within reasonable timeframes and work to bring the time taken for regular tasks down as far as possible.
With no colleagues to chat with, no water cooler to congregate around or lunch room at which to gather, the lack of stimulation that comes with human contact can become lonely, dispiriting and sabotage your productivity. If you have a partner at home, make time each day to have a quick tea break together, or schedule a weekly date with a friend. Another fabulous option is to spend half a day a week working your favourite coffee shop. Just take your computer along, hook up to the wireless, and you’ll be amazed at how the change of scenery and hum of human activity can recharge your motivation batteries.
Clothes really do maketh the man or woman. How we dress affects the way we feel about ourselves and our overarching mindset. If you’re getting around the office in your Hello Kitty PJs and fluffy bunny slippers, your attitude will most likely mirror your attire. Unless you’re a local sales rep for Sanrio, this is probably not a good thing. While it might at first feel a bit awkward to be all dressed up with nowhere to go; make it a habit to dress in business attire while you work. You don’t have to go overboard, but comfortable business attire will make a subtle psychological difference to your approach and help put you in the productive frame of mind.
As Australia’s economy continues to evolve and diversify, corporate attitudes are changing with it. If you’re considering starting a home business, or a move to telecommuting, the contact APSO today to see how our premium virtual office and meeting room hire solutions can assist you to create a rewarding, productive and successful work-life balance.