Joanne Broder Sumerson Ph.D.

Research Notes

The #1 Most Important Secret to Working From Home

Working at home should not turn into weekday Saturday.

Posted Oct 15, 2014

Joanne Broder Sumerson
Source: Joanne Broder Sumerson
Source: Joanne Broder Sumerson
Source: Joanne Broder Sumerson

     Thanks to the World Wide Web and technology, it’s a small world after all (Disneyland Children’s Sing-Along Chorus, 1964). Since 4.7 million people work remotely (Hering, 2020), it is more common and less novel to work with colleagues in a different time zone and conduct business from another country without physically being there. Rapoza (2013) reported from a study conducted by Telework Research Network that Americans who work exclusively from home, 54% claim to be happier than those who do not.

      After the novelty wears off that working in pajamas replaces the stressful commute to the oppressive cubicle or windowless office, at the end of the day, high quality work still has to get done. What is the most important skill we need to develop to stay focused on work?

      The ability to maintain thick boundaries is the most important secret skill to successfully work from home. The beauty of working from home is the autonomy and schedule flexibility; working according to your personal needs and when you feel productive. Take full advantage of this situation. For example, I am a morning writer and feel grateful that I can usually schedule meetings and conference calls in the afternoon, so they not conflict with prime writing hours.

      Taking breaks is essential regardless of where we work or what we do. Working from home provides the opportunity to control that time. Think of these as your water cooler breaks:

1. Family and friends

Just because you are home, does not mean you are available for people other than colleagues. Like with an office or other public work situation, friends do not normally drop in and say hi because they are in the area and you are there. People need to know that you are home working and wait to hear from you regarding the best time for visits and chitchat. If you have children home, get a caretaker so you can actually get work done. I have yet to meet a parent with very little ones who successfully worked from home without an extra set of hands to help. Thankfully, there are a lot of amazing, trustworthy caretaking experts who are best recommended via word of mouth.

2. Household Chores and Errands

It is easy to get lured in by the continuous cycle of laundry, dishes, and food shopping. Your job is not housekeeper with work tasks shoved in between; just the opposite. You found a way to get these things done when you were not working from home, so do not let the never-ending list of life’s to-do’s be an excuse. The bright side is that you do not have to whisper to schedule a doctor’s appointment.

3. Non-Work Related Fun Stuff

The flexibility is indeed enticing to accept the invitation for a tee time, chair a board position at the kids’ school, or tune into a television show. The autonomy lets you reward yourself for meeting work goals or taking work breaks. Hobbies and family involvement are necessary in nurturing our spirit, but is not fair to your organization or clients if you are MIA or fail to deliver the goods. Do what you have to do and then party.

     Since there will be almost two-thirds more Americans working from home within the next few years, set those boundaries today. Lets hope this means that more than half of them will also admit to being happier ☺.

                                                        References

Disneyland Children’s Sing-Along Chorus, (1964). It’s a Small World After All. Retrieved

     on 10/8/14 http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4691.

 Rapoza, (2013). One in Five Americans Work from Home, Numbers Seen Rising over

     60%. Posted on 2/18/13 online Forbes Retrieved 10/8/14

     http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/02/18/one-in-five-americans-w...

     from-home-numbers-seen-rising-over-60/.

References

Hering, (2020), Remote Work Statistics: Shifting Norms and Expectations extracted from FlexJobs 3/20/20, https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/remote-work-statistics/