By TW Picht, Access Project Manager/Humorist-in-Residence

Editor’s note: If you’ve had the pleasure of talking to/working with this gentleman, you’ll know he’s one of the funniest people at Access, and a great project manager as well. And no, he didn’t pay the marketing team to say that. What better way to bring the Access blog back (yes, we know your life has been missing something while we’ve been working on new marketing materials, updating websites, and tending Green Paper Monsters). So without further ado, let’s here a big round of applause for Mr….TW…Picht….

 

Working from home has its perks:  listening to your favorite kind of music without Cassie the Complainer crying about the number of caps that have been “busted,” the fresh supply of coffee that has been neither freeze dried in a vacuum bubble pack nor sitting in the pot stewing all day on the office’s state-of-the-art 1954 edition of Mr. Coffee, and you don’t even have to get dressed to attend your meetings. Yes, we all know you sit around in your three-day-old underwear hoping that one of your clients doesn’t request a video meeting, just so you can put off doing laundry and taking a shower for the record fourth day in a row. Regardless, just like great responsibility is part of having great power , there are pitfalls that you must overcome in order to enjoy the awesomeness that is working from home.

Possessions/Family/Friends – Obviously, these are the reasons you even have a job in the first place. Yes, I know I am breaking the unwritten code. NEVER verbalize that you aren’t there for the fantastic benefits, great co-workers, and the overwhelming personal satisfaction you receive from doing a great job. While some or all of that may be true, let’s just clear the air. You want stuff!  A new iPad, a nice vacation with your family, or the newest DVD to complete your original series Star Trek collection (or even advance tickets to the holy-crap-this-looks-cool new version). It’s all stuff and that’s why we are here. However, this stuff can get in the way of being a productive home worker.

The stuff part is easy. Make sure you have an office space away from the stuff.  Don’t work in the space that you play in. Trying to answer emails and focus on phone calls will be difficult when your Xbox is only 2 feet away. Don’t make the man cave your office space. It may work for a few days, but no one can resist Halo for that long. The family and friends will be harder. Upon hearing about your new “at home office experience,” they will first experience jealousy and awe. Everyone wants to work from home (see previously mentioned perks).

However, their awe will soon turn into an uncontrollable idea that you don’t really do anything all day and can be at their every beck and call. Could you run Gramps to the VA hospital; you will only have to sit and wait on him for 3 hrs. You were home; why didn’t you do the dishes? Dude, let’s go to lunch and have some drinks for four hours.  You are home — it’s just like being off work right? Setting a clear expectation of your office hours and reminding them that you can no sooner drop your responsibilities than they can, will help. Make sure they understand that your day is just as full as theirs.

Loneliness/Boredom – Every “Corporate America” office worker shackled to his or her desk will insist that working from home, away from the other office people, is just what the doctor ordered. This can be entirely true. Working from home allows you the comfort of a much less stringent corporate atmosphere and provides a release from inter office personnel issues. You’ve been there; you know how the personal politics are played.  At home it’s just you. Just you and the plants. Day after day after day, just you. Yourself. No one else but you and Bob. “Who’s Bob?” Bob is my houseplant, when I overwater him, he floats around on top of the extra water because he is such a little guy, so I named him Bob……..What? “You named your house plant?” Yeah…..and? “And now you’re talking to yourself?” No I am not, don’t be ridic……wait…what?

The point is, people need human interaction. No matter how much you fool yourself into thinking you can work solo, you will eventually become stir crazy and need to talk with someone besides Bob. Schedule a workday with coworkers and get out of the house. Go to a coffee shop, the library, or anywhere that you will see and can say at least a couple sentences to a live human being.

Distraction – “I won’t get distracted; it won’t happen to me!” you’ll say. But in truth, it’s going to happen most likely sooner than later. The best way to combat this is to make a task list or schedule and always stick to it. In today’s world most of our information comes from the internet and most of us even get it on our smart phones. The internet and the television are going to be the biggest culprits in causing you distraction. They are like a plate of sprinkle- and frosting-covered donuts calling to the chunky dieter.  You will sneak those yummy pastries any time you get the chance. I mean why not? They taste delicious and one isn’t going to hurt. It’s just one and if you have coffee with it, really it’s not even that bad for you. The caffeine in the coffee helps boost your energy levels and your metabolism so your body is already working harder to counteract the massive jolt of sugar that is the “donut”.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that on average, every American eats about 63 donuts per year. That’s like barely over one donut a week. I don’t know about you, but I eat way more than a donut a week. Donuts even have their own national day; it’s the first Friday of June every year. In fact, donuts are so awesome – you can spell it two different ways: Donut or Doughnut. Both spellings are correct and both are delicious. I love donuts. Wait, where was I……..Something about diets? No, that’s not right….

Multitasking – Not all work-from-home positions are the same. However, it is likely that you will need to be flexible and possess the ability to multitask. Generally speaking, people can see that you are busy with a task or project and typically will let you finish before assigning additional duties. That’s not as true for satellite workers; you have just as many if not more demands on your time than you do in the office environment.  You will need to switch gears from the tasks you are working on, to the tasks that have just been called to your attention. You will likely also have to switch between projects and customers throughout your day as assigned deliverables are returned.

Probably the best course of action is to keep a flowing “To Do” list that items can be added to and removed easily as not to eat up more time keeping track of your tasks. Multitasking is not always easy, but being organized is the first step of being a great multi-tasker. Keep track of your duties and you can much more quickly switch gears to accommodate the demands of your day. Like eating donuts. Watering Bob. And, heaven forbid, getting some work done!

 

 

 

 

One Thought on “Homebound Office Jockey: Tips to be productive while working from home

  1. Tom S on 04/02/2013 at 2:36 pm said:

    Great round-up of the challenges that work-at-homers face, and an excellent summation of why I feel working in an “official” place of business is preferable (at least for me) whenever possible. I am reminded of a co-worker who asked for (and was granted) a few work-at-home days each week after his cute/tiny/precious infant was born. I suspected that once the baby began crawling and talking, and his stay-at-home wife became weary of doing everything while he was sitting in the next room, he would rediscover why God invented office buildings. He switched companies before I could validate this theory.

    Another layer to this discussion is Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s theory that working from home is not the problem. It’s working at home alone! In his (likely childless) view, co-workers should be working in each other’s homes sometimes! Maybe we could set a group record for showerless days! Mmmm!
    http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2013/03/19/working-from-home-telecommuting/?iid=HP_River

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