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The Home Office: FAQs

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 25 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Working From Home Office Work Life

Working from home can lead to improved efficiency and quality of life, but it is not suited to everyone. We answer some frequently asked questions about life in the home office.

What Are the Advantages to Working from Home?

The benefits are substantial. You’re free of nightmare journeys to work on crushed commuter trains or inching along gridlocked roads. The time saved can be spent in bed or to facilitate an early start and early finish. Working flexibility in general is improved, because you can also take breaks whenever it suits you.

Being at home means you can attend to home matters, such as answering the door for deliveries or meter readings. You can also keep an eye on children, pets etc.

Without your boss breathing down your neck, constant phones ringing, your colleagues asking for favours, distracting you with mindless gossip or stealing your stapler, you can concentrate and actually get some work done.

And the Disadvantages...?

Or can you? There are actually many more distractions at home intent on keeping you from working. At least the boss wants you to get your work done, daytime TV doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

It’s difficult coming to terms with the fact that the home is designed to be a place to unwind, not to work. Imagine being rudely awoken from a sun-kissed slumber on the sands of the Mediterranean to be handed some paperwork that needs completing by five.

What’s more, working from home is unsociable. For many people, work colleagues are what make a job enjoyable, or at least bearable. They give you a regular dose of social contact, assistance when you need advice and, if something goes wrong, the reassurance that you’re all in it together. Without their support, working from home can sometimes become very lonely and depressing.

In theory it’s great to free from the routines and restrictions regular office life, but in reality human beings need structure in order to work efficiently. What with all the distractions, nobody breathing down your neck, and freedom to work when you want, you might find you end up working through your evenings just to get the work completed.

What Makes a Good Home Worker?

We need routine whether we’re working at the office or at home in order to work productively. A good home worker is therefore someone that can establish an effective routine and has the self-discipline to stick to it.

As well as being content in their own company, an effective home worker should be adept at separating home and work life. It’s easy to leave the office behind if it’s on the other side of town but if it’s at your dining room table then it can be difficult to switch off from work at the end of the day.

How Do I Separate Home and Work Life?

Ideally it’s best to appoint a room in your home as the office – the most popular choice being the spare bedroom. This way, you are effectively dividing up your home into home and office, and keeping the two lives separate. Once your working day is over you can close the door and shut out work.

If you have enough room for an office then designate a space in the home for office space, but make sure that once the working day is over the work is cleared away.

What Facilities Do I Need?

Besides the computer itself, the Internet is the one key factor behind employees being able to work from home. It is therefore important to ensure that you have modern and reliable equipment, as well as a fast connection. If your technology makes working slower than at the office then you will quickly get frustrated.

Is Working from Home Good for the Environment?

Despite common claims to the contrary, working from home is no better for the environment than working at the office. In fact in some instances it could even be worse.

You may save on CO2 emissions by not commuting but this could be outweighed by the fact that whereas office workers share their electricity and heating, at home you are generating a lot of energy for just one person.

Nevertheless, this is not to say that it is bad for the environment. It can be positive if done in a planned and managed way, such as by employing basic energy saving measures.

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