“The flexibility is great, but I have to be really disciplined about boundaries – what is “work time” and “home time”.
If you’ve managed to secure a job that enables you to work from home, congratulations! Remote working is increasingly common but balancing the demands of family with the requirements of work can be challenging, as the line between personal and professional becomes blurred.
Here at CV Knowhow, we love a bit of home-working, so we’ve put together a few hints and tips to help you to run both aspects of your life smoothly.
Set Specific Working Times
Defining your working times means that you can be available for your family when they need you, but also dedicate the appropriate attention to your work. Whether the baby is napping, the kids are at school or your other half is at the gym, it’s important to identify the hours that will suit you, your family and your clients – and stick to them. Distractions are abundant when you’re working from home and juggling family life at the same time, so discipline is key to success.
Although it’s essential to have the discipline to get on with work during your established hours, it’s just as important to know when to stop. With work close to hand, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation to squeeze in just one more thing, just check your emails, just finish off that task… and before you know it you’re putting in more hours and seeing your family less than you were before.
One of our writers, Cheryl, has recently started working from home, having balanced traditional work with her family for years. She advises: “The flexibility is great, but I have to be really disciplined about boundaries – what is “work time” and “home time”.
Communicate the Rules to Your Family
The best-laid plans can be derailed if your family isn’t on board with your decisions. Set specific rules and make sure your family buys into them. Whether it’s teenagers not using your work computer, your partner not interrupting or your pre-schoolers not putting their sticky fingers in your files, rules need to be communicated and agreed for the balance to work.
Maxine, a writer who has worked from home for years, tells her husband she’s off to work as if she were going to a traditional job, and “he knows to only stick his head in my office if the house is on fire”. Day-to-day communication in Maxine’s house is done by Messenger so that she can pick a convenient time to answer without disturbing the flow of her work.
Communicate Your Availability to Your Colleagues
When you’re in the office, it’s obvious whether or not you’re available – either you’re there, working, or you’re not. When you’re out of sight, your colleagues have no idea whether you’re available or not, unless you’ve had this discussion with them. It’s not just your manager who needs to know your hours – make sure every colleague you work with is informed of your rough intentions.
Since I started working from home for CV Knowhow, my office-based colleagues have known that my hours are roughly “if the kids are likely to be around, I’m not”. I’ll work as usual, respond to calls and messages and contact clients while the kids are at school – and possibly even in bed – but outside of those times, they know my priorities lie elsewhere.
There will be times when you have peace and quiet to work, and there will be times when family life seems to be taking over. When you’ve been working from home for a while, the routine will become established, and you’ll identify when you’re at your most productive. It will become easier to prioritise your work around the flow of your family – you can save the complex, high-concentration tasks for when you know you’ll be able to work for long periods uninterrupted, and the more routine tasks for when you can grab a moment.
Similarly keep phone calls, particularly to clients and others you want to impress, to times when you can guarantee peace.
Accept that balancing work and home won’t always go to plan. There will be times when work necessarily encroaches into family time and the occasional family crisis that means work has to sit on the back burner. Bear in mind that things like overtime and leave are options in the office, so you don’t need to feel guilty for using these options at home too.
Finally, bear in mind that what works for you at this stage of your family life and career won’t necessarily work at another stage, so stay flexible and adapt as demands on your time change.
We hope you enjoy working from home and making the most of the opportunities it presents!