Dedicate a workspace and stay organized
Establish a dedicated space for your office work. Make it ergonomically adaptable to your physical needs. Keep it clutter free and inviting. Keep household chores, such a laundry and bills, away from your work area to reduce household distractions. During your work hours, you will want to give your full attention to your employer – not your household chores!
Stick to a routine
Establish a daily routine that accommodates your work schedule. While you may choose to work in your pjs or sweat suit, it is important to prepare for the day as if you were heading out the door to an office. Your routine should include regular breaks, meals, exercise to recharge and stay productive. Working at home may be lonely, so schedule your coffee breaks to coincide with a phone conversation with a friend or lunch out with co-workers. However, be sure to keep within a structured time frame so that you can stay accountable for getting your work done. Your work schedule – including break times – should be outlined in your UK Flexible Work Arrangement Letter of Understanding.
Integrate your family’s rhythms into your routine
One of the advantages of working from home is your accessibility to family. Be mindful of the various parts of the day when they need your attention and schedule your work around them. For example, schedule your afternoon break to coincide with your kids return from school. At the end of the work day, turn off your office computer, leave your office space, and focus your full attention on your family.
Don’t expect to do it all
If you are working from home, you should not be expected to take care of all household, family and employer obligations. Rather, be realistic about what you can actually do during the day without stress. Explain to your family that if you are scheduled to work 8-5, then you cannot be expected to simultaneously prepare a gourmet meal, repair the deck and play with the children. Be assertive with your routine and hire help to supplement family care during work time if needed.
Establish expectations with your employer
Work with your supervisor and clients to establish your hours so that they understand how and when they can reach you. While many employers claim to support flexible work arrangements, in practice, it can be a different story. Unfortunately, out of sight can mean out of mind. Make sure your agreement is clearly defined and that you have ample time each week to communicate your accomplishments or provide a “status update” to your supervisor and co-workers. Visit the main office every once and awhile to get some face time.
Celebrate rewards together
When you finish an important project at work, celebrate with your family and friends. While you may make a special trip to the main office to celebrate, be sure to celebrate with the ones who see you work every day. They'll buy in more to your work, and they'll feel like they are part of the success.
Be a role model
You have the advantage of showing your kids the structure of paid employment by example. Help them see how you manage to balance work and home. Let them observe you working hard to support the family. They will learn their attitudes about work from watching you, so teach them well.
Evaluate, adjust and monitor
Understand that when priorities in work and life change, your work-at-home routine will most likely need to change. Watch for warning signs of problems. Talk to your family and your employer about how it is going. Create adjustments to your routine and discuss them with your employer and family. Celebrate when you get it right.
Do something for yourself every day
When managing a household and a career, it is easy to not take care of yourself. Spend 30 minutes sometime during the day with a favorite book, visiting with a friend, or doing a favorite project around the house. Taking a little time for you will improve the other hours in the day.
Working from home might inadvertently reduce the amount of exercise you get each day. After all, you won’t be exerting yourself commuting to another place to work. You will also have easy access to the “free” junk food located in your kitchen. Be sure to stick to healthy habits, such as getting up from your desk and a moving around a little, staying with an exercise regimen and eating nutritious meals. You will stay emotionally and mentally balanced too.