On Working From Home
I run WP Dude from my home office. I thought I would write a post on my thoughts on working from home.
I’ve been working from home for going on eight years now, so I’ve accumulated lots of pointers.
About My Home Office
My home office is a dedicated room in our house just for me to work in. It’s a tiny space at about 2m x 2m (7ft x 7ft) but it is perfect for me and more than enough room to run a global WordPress development agency.
It’s painted white (and needs re-decorating it’s looking a little shabby ) and is minimally furnished. A desk, a chair, some draws, a lamp, a cork board, a bin and pictures from my kids. Computer, diary, notepad and that’s about it, that’s all I need to run my business.
The myth about bricks and mortar buildings with all staff working in one place died about ten years ago, and any company saying this will not work really means they don’t know how to manage a remote company.
Why should we be marching like automatons to the meat grinder factory when you can work from home?
Here’s a picture I just took with my back right back against the wall, so what you see is nearly all of my office space.
In No Particular Order..
Here are a lists of the pros and cons of working from your home office
I used to give up two hours of my life everyday sitting on a bus. I live in a small but busy city in the North of England, the city is over 900 years old. Like most old European cities, the streets and infrastructure are not designed for cars, so driving to work is an even longer journey.
I was forced to be penned up in a bus with other grey faced commuters coughing and sputtering, creating a cocoon of my own with Kindle and iPod to blot out the terrible nature of other people’s dire conversations.
Now, the five second stroll across the landing is my commute and the hop skip and jump back to my couch is a breeze.
Put A Door On Your Space
If at all possible create a physical barrier between you, your workspace and the rest of the world.
At the end of my working day, my kids are also sharing the space where I work (or as they selfishly call it home 🙂 ) my home office has a door on it, the rules are when the door is closed keep the noise down and leave me alone, I’m on the phone or doing something like narrating a video that needs quiet.
I can also close that door as an end to the working day to create a physical end to my days work (I talk about this more later).
Having a barrier on your work space rather than using communal spaces is really useful
Ergonomic Setup / Standing Desk
You will be spending a lot of time with your ass in that chair, buy the best one you can.
Lookup ergonomic posture and try and get your desk / chair / computer setup the best it can be.
Seriously consider a stand up /sitting down desk setup, I’m currently looking at one that will allow me to be up and down due to lower back aches and strains at times.
Take the time to prepare fresh and nutritious food.
I’m married with two kids.
I had full time jobs where I used to head out early morning, do my thing, then come home late exhausted. I spent more time with colleagues than my young family.
I gave that up and started to contract as a self employed person. I used to work away during the week and only see them at the weekend.
I hated both models and wanted self employment, but from home, building wpdude as a home base business has been one of the best things I have ever done.
I’m present with my kids during their morning , rather than dashing off at dawn to catch a bus. We spend time over breakfast I help them get ready and see them off to school. My wife drives them there and then heads off to work herself.
It’s my job to collect them from school,make them their tea as we say in northern England (dinner or evening meal to the rest of the world) listen to their stories, have a laugh and do a few more hours work before finishing for the day. Sometimes we sit down to watch a movie, in the warmer months we might go to the park or go on an “adventure” walk somewhere.
I’m always present at their events, because I make my own schedule and can juggle it. I don’t have to be at someone else’s location.
Establish A Routine and Stick To It
This is a big one, create and set a routine, then stick to it. My current routine
- 8:00 Kids and Wife Leave
- 8:00-9:00 Project management, stand up meeting with my team
- 9:00-12:00 Project work
- 12:00-13:00 LUNCH break a full hour may seem excessive but I exercise, meditate cook and eat real food in that time. This is my mid day oasis.
- 13:00-15:00 Project work
- 15:00-15:00 Collect kids from school
- 15:30-18:00 Sales & Marketing or admin work
It’s a 10 hour day but I can honestly say it never feels like one, that big break in the middle really helps keep me energised.
Know Your Energy
My peak energy times are 9-12 and 13-15 that’s when I focus on client work.
Sales and marketing or admin which tend to be less taxing for me are done outside of those hour with the exception of my blog posts which are written during the 9-12 timeslot.
When you make your own schedule working from home, schedule the hard work when you perform best, not when the boss tells you.
I don’t work at weekends, no more to say on that.
I’m an introverted chap and I don’t mind my own company, but there are times when I crave human contact.
Make sure you get out of the house at least once a day.
Make sure you schedule social time away from home.
Fill up your weekends with other people and other places, you can get cabin fever.
Dealing With Interrupting People
There is a mindset with some people that equates working from home as being available.
I’m not available to grab a coffee at 9am Monday because you are off work, I’m at fecking work!!!
You have to be a little harsh and let people know your working hours and make people stick to that.
A lot of people say “I couldn’t do that I don’t have the self discipline to work at home!”.
My answer is simple continue working at your shitty office doing something that does not create a spark in you. If you want to work from home (probably self employed) you need self discipline.
I’m building a business, it’s hard, really hard, some days are crappy but on average I really love what I do, building a business and a team is fun.
I’ve created my own self discipline to get the work done. If I don’t I don’t get paid simple as that.
I switch spaces to create mental gaps in the type of work I do.
If I’m managing WP Dude projects or doing WordPress technical support I’m in the office pictured above.
If I’m doing research, reading a business book, doing planning or taking a course, I switch spaces so I’m not at the computer where Skype or email ping will distract me.
We have a space where the kids keep their toys and other junk, but it has a couch I can use as a separate thinking space.
When I first started working from home I drifted into a period of shabbiness, I would get up, get into my inbox and work would ensue, the beard grew and work was done in Jammies.
Nowadays, the inbox is untouched until the personal grooming has been done.
I’m not putting on a suit and tie any more (in what universe was it decided that wrapping a piece of cloth around your neck makes you professional) but you can descend into shabbiness when you think no-one is looking.
Get Some Exercise!
You can quickly become very sedentary when you work from home. Make sure you take some exercise.
For me it’s a combination of walking to collect my kids from school each day and using the 7 minute work out app. The app gives you a series of body weight exercises to do in 30 seconds sprints with 10 second recovery, you do seven minutes or multiples thereof.
I used to run, but the act of getting my kit on and getting out the door was very easy to put off when the projects stack up. The 7 minute work out is only ( as the name suggests duh!) 7 minutes, you just need to find some space to do it, the mental objections are less and the workout gets done.
I used to think meditation was woo-woo nonsense, that’s until I started to do it.
My practise is not spiritual, although I understand it can be, it’s a a tool to create calm in what can sometimes be a roller coaster ride as an entrepreneur.
I use an app called Headspace, it provides a guided meditation to clear your mind for 20 minutes, and focus only on your breathing, that’s all, no chakra clearing, no mantras just a little bit of calm to help you deal with a busy world.
Because I work from home I can squirrel myself away from the world and do 20 minutes meditation and the rest of the world does not look at me as if I’m mental. It is one of my favourite parts of the day.
End Of Day Shut-down
As a digital worker it’s very easy to be always on.
I’ve created a process where I shut down at the end of the day.
At approximately 6pm and sometimes earlier that’s the end of business day for me. I’ll shift devices from computer to iPad to catch up on some social reading such as the new and blogs I follow. That shift in device is a mental signal that I’m in a different mode not work mode.
The computer is switched off. The iPhone is put on charge and left beside my computer so I don’t check email all the time.
But what about text messages from friends or family, they know to catch me before 6pm after that they can call the land line or contact me through my wife. The people who really need me out of office hours know how to get me.
If I’ve got access to email or my work apps, I’ve got access to work and there is always a temptation to jump back into work, because it is so easy.
The door to the office is closed. The working day is shut-down.
Costs Of Working From Home
The cost of running a home office is absorbed into my home running costs, electricity, water, heating etc. You should not underestimate this. You will use more of your utilities.
In the UK there is an allowance we can add to our tax return to cover these costs, check to see if you can do that also.
When I’m really not in the mood for work I can bunk off.
Friday afternoons are my guilty pleasure, whenever possible I don’t book client work after 3pm so I can bunk off, listen to my podcasts or have a snooze, working from home gives me this benefit.
Eight Years In Bare Feet
I’ve spent the last eight years walking around my house in bare feet.
I’ve developed weird calluses on my toes and wearing a pair of formal shoes for any length of time is a nightmare. You have been warned 🙂
Wrap Up – On Working From Home
The world of work has changed so much in the past 10 years.
Digital work has allowed so many of us to work from home, create our own schedules and have a much more balanced life. Work is returning to an older village setup where people work from their living spaces rather than the grey industrial monster where we are consumed by factories and offices.
Working from home is a blessing and joy to me, I know everyone cannot do that based upon their job choice, your thoughts on working from home in the comments.