Thursday, March 25, 2010

Balancing Working from Home with Family

Working from home can be challenging, especially when you are balancing work with the needs of your family. The very same reasons we begin working from home, are also those that can cause conflict. When I began working from home it was only part time one day per week. that was the easy part.  As I advanced to exclusive telecommuting the challenges became apparent. You must establish ground rules for yourself and your family. If you work a fixed schedule that requires phone work, go in your office and close the door. If you don’t have an office, remember you need a quite space. Your employer is likely going to require it, and you are going to need to be free of distraction. If you have small children at home, it’s best to work when they are sleeping or under someone else’s care. Babies are going to cry, toddlers are going to get into things, and unless you can start and stop what you’re doing, it is simply not going to work. Older children can make things a bit easier, they can fend for themselves for a few hours or they might be in school. Older children can be much nosier too. The important thing is everyone needs to remember that the parent is working, not just surfing the web. If you work several non-phone jobs like I do, it can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. I can work at 5:00 in the morning, midnight or anywhere in between. It can be tempting to try to work all the time, because the more you work the more you earn. Then your family and personal life can suffer. I recommend one full day per week off. Don’t even turn on that computer. Don’t forget to exercise and take breaks away from your computer. Work related injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and many others are very real medical conditions. Be sure to have a good chair and adequate arm support if you are doing a lot of keyboarding. I had some back problems for a while until I realized that my big comfy chair was not providing adequate support. Now I sit up straight and have arm rests that provide true arm support. Most importantly don't neglect non-computer soical activities.  Meet the gals or guys for lunch, go for a walk in the park, take the kids out for pizza, just get out of the house.  Spouses may need reminders that you are actually working; it can be tempting for a spouse to say since you’re home anyway, take the car in for maintenance, and plan a special dinner for the relatives. Now this is certainly easier than when you worked in the B&M world, but if you’re working FT hours which many of us do, then spouses need to remember they still have to help out. The important key that has worked for me is open communication and flexibility with everyone. If everyone is committed to this it will work out just fine. How wonderful to have the flexibility of meeting your children at the bus stop, chaperoning a field trip, or just being able to work in a pair of flip flops.

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