Like the idea of rolling out of bed and clocking in from the couch? You’re not alone. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that 1 in 12 Aussies now work more from home and the Federal Government is currently aiming for 12% of the public service workforce to work remotely by 2020.
The benefits are clear. Working from home offers significant advantages around flexibility of work hours, looking after kids, working uninterrupted, saving time and money on travel costs, tax – you may be able to claim for office equipment or utilities and being able to work in your PJ’s!
Plus recent studies by Stanford University Researchers in the US shows that those who work at home put in longer hours are up to 30% more productive and 50% less likely to leave.
But it’s not all rosy. A report by McCrindle Research, highlights the social impacts of this growing trend and found that while working from home is now a standard offer by many large organisations, 58% of respondents craved more social interaction and face to face contact, while only 25% created a work/life balance to enjoy life more.
Charles Brass, Chairman of Australian based not for profit, Future of Work Foundation says while more people will be working from home in coming years there are drawbacks, "One of the reasons why teleworking hasn't taken off as well as everybody expected it might is because of two forms of social isolation: that you're home alone, and even if you're not at home alone you need to isolate yourself from whatever else is going on in the house to get anything done".
Add to this, hard-to-change cultural attitudes by employers about employees slacking off and outdated technology that make remote working difficult then it’s clear that if working from home is to be a success you need some strategies in place.
Here are five good points to start with:
1. Get up to speed with technology
There’s a huge amount of technology to support telecommuting and it’s improving all the time. Apps like Skype, Google Docs, Dropbox and Cloud computing, remote access to shared networks, mobile broadband, fast internet and conference call technology all enable the remote work process so make sure you have everything set up before you start.
2. Separate your work area
Critical to your success is the separation of home and work life. Try and make your space free from distractions such as family, pets, visitors, TV etc.
3. Set boundaries with family and friends
Be able to draw a line in the sand. At first your friends and family may not understand that you are actually at work so set the tone and create good work and social habits for yourself.
4. Stay in touch
It’s a good idea to start out working from home just a day or two a week and increase from there. This will give you the opportunity to get used to the new work environment in a more natural way. Meet colleagues or friends for lunch from time to time.
Go to social work events and break down any isolation by regularly talking with friends or colleagues who also work from home. Social networking is a good way to stay in touch.
5. Be accountable
Keep to a routine and make sure you have regular breaks and finish times. Have regular meetings with your managers so they understand what you’re achieving. Keep communication about work in progress daily.
Take time to touch base in person with teams you are working with and make sure they know how to contact you and that you are seen to be available at the times you are supposed to be.
If you do it right, working from home can be a positive and rewarding experience for you, your family, and your employer.
- Check out this great infographic on what workers do when they work from home
- Read To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home
- Read Working from home: The benefits and the cost.