Much has been written about the encroachment of work demands upon one’s private life when working from home. Don’t get us wrong. Working from home presents a wonderful situation when it works as it’s intended to.
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However, what many employees with remote jobs discover is that the two worlds often collide and seep into one another’s space, making it hard to enjoy down time when you are off work and making it hard to focus when you are supposed to be working. If you are pressed for time, skip to the last paragraph to learn why it is important to maintain professionalism when working from home.
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Risks associated with remote work distractions
For these reasons, we’d like to talk about the ways in which distractions and interruptions from family and friends disrupt your work flow and lower your productivity. Constant unplanned interference can turn your small slice of heaven into a living hell.
Reduced output and lowered work quality are not the only risks. A risk much more damaging to the career (leading to unemployment) of an employee or freelancer working from home is the perception of low value. Remote workers must be very careful and tread lightly during times of economic peril. Let’s not pose for the kill shot yet. We do not want to give an employer a reason to cancel remote work arrangements.
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We often broadcast to employers, the advantages of lower costs of employees and freelancers working from home. What we abhor, however, is the threat of lowered economic value remote workers bring to the table, relative to higher cost alternatives (employees who report to a traditional in office environment).
Even if you are not a remote worker, or you are merely a job seeker in search of a remote job, you are impacted indirectly by the perception of potential employers. Also, many of our readers are freelancers working from home, providing needed services to huge multinationals, mid-sized companies and even mom and pop establishments. In this instance, not every entrepreneur or solo-entrepreneur has the financial means or even the desire to rent office space outside of their home. For many entrepreneurs, working from home is part of the perk of being their own boss.
While entrepreneurs, when working from home, may mistakenly believe that they have nothing now to prove to anyone, they are dead wrong. Even clients paying a cut rate fee for remote freelancer still want to hold on to the perception that they, “got a lot of value for the low rate.”
Working from your home office is a privilege
In both instances, as a remote employee or remote freelancer, both need to be mindful. Te privilege of working from home and working from anywhere is not a right. Such honors are extended to the few who have earned them and demonstrated consistently that they can maintain the highest quality, provide the best customer and client service, as well as the greatest productivity with relatively little supervision, minimal feedback and less check-ins for milestone completion.
When privileges are not appreciated, they can easily evaporate into the vipers of the nebulous nature of virtual reality (VR).
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Whether you are a remote freelancer or an employee who works from home, it’s important for you to differentiate between the two worlds so that you can maximize your efforts for both. One of the things that often frustrates solo entrepreneurs and remote workers is that as they try to complete remote job assignments or work on their business; they suffer constant interruptions by their loved ones. And, such interruptions DO NOT go un-noticed by clients, colleagues, remote team leaders, supervisors, or those higher up the food chain.
Typical distractions that lower your value
Here are a few distractions that clients, remote team leaders and supervisors may find annoying which could inadvertently lower your perceived value-add:
- barking dogs
- crying infants
- ringing doorbells
- flushing toilets
- background noise from a television/radio/cd
Common responses to distractions that lower your value
While some interruptions can not be avoided, remote workers should make every effort NOT to do the following if and when they do occur:
- proceed to make the barking dog the topic of the discussion (give the dog’s name, breed, age, etc)
- inform others of the name of the infant/child/teen or young adult as well as other detailed information (age, interests, reason for being at home)
- explain the nature and purpose of the visit from the ringing doorbell (delivery, friend, family)
- apologize about the bathroom situation by explaining that “you haven’t have been on the phone or video conferencing all day.”
- identify the entertainer and/or genre, describe the entertainment and /or platform you prefer and why
And believe it or not, when working from home, remote workers may indeed be more relaxed. Research bears this out. An article appearing in Fortune indicated that “56% of the 2,000 workers surveyed said that remote working made them feel more relaxed.”
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Tips for maintaining your value when working from home
What we have to remember though is the perception of extreme relaxation is not that for which we are aiming. Remote workers working remote jobs need to maintain the appearance of full-court professionalism. Even when working from home. What does this mean?
- dressing professionally (maybe not a three piece suit, but at least business casual)
- refraining from incessant giggling
- maintaining professional speech, tone, mannerisms and grammar
Immediate danger of taking a relaxed attitude when working from home
Why are we concerned? There is study from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management showing that “being too relaxed in one’s career” is deadly. The study’s researchers analyzed 6,000 employee reviews posted on Glassdoor to find that when financial analysts, in particular, had too much work-life balance, they failed to focus enough on their work.
Too much work life balance they found was the antithesis of career-oriented, aggressive and success oriented mindset necessary to succeed in times of uncertainty. Further, lack of focus when top notch analysis of business strategy and economic conditions are required to predict and respond to business success or failure; can be detrimental to one’s career.
This article focused mainly on the dangers of the perceptions of low value-add of remote workers in comparison to peers who report to work in a traditional office setting. The research is clear that when one maintains a relaxed attitude, the negative impact extends beyond the perceptions of others to the potential to negatively influence the remote worker him/herself.