Working from home is a growing trend and a blessing for many people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2017 on an average work day 23 percent of corporate workers spent at least part of the day working from home. Employers allowing work from home options have grown by 40 percent in the last 5 years and two-thirds of companies that offer telecommuting or work from home options report an increase in worker productivity.
In addition to increasing productivity for the employer, working from home can save huge amounts of commuting time and expense (which also has a positive impact on the environment), enable people with disabilities to have better job opportunities, make it easier for people with illnesses or sick relatives to avoid taking time off, and allow parents to avoid or lower daycare costs and complications.
Working from home efficiently when you have children poses special challenges though. A now-viral video of political science professor Robert Kelly talking on a BBC News segment about international policy demonstrated that when Kelly’s young children interrupted the interview to his chagrin.
How to Work From Home With Kids
A few tips can make all the difference in how much you get done while working from home, especially if you’re a parent (or watching children for another reason).
- Set boundaries
- Create a schedule
- Fake a commute
- Hands-free helps
- Take a lunch break
- Give up perfection
- Stop at 5 p.m.
Boundaries refer to both space and habits. Having a separate room for telecommuting is a huge benefit when you have children. Teresa Douglas, co-author of Secrets of the Remote Workforce, advocates putting a sign on the door to that room saying, “STOP! In a meeting” when appropriate. Even if you can’t have a separate space for work, setting rules and boundaries is essential.
Having a routine is essential. Instead of being lax, having a schedule encourages efficiency. Keeping regular office hours – or as regular as you can – is also a key part of this. It even helps your body adapt to your work schedule.
Use a fraction of the time you would use physically commuting to make your list of tasks for the day and their priority. This time also helps provide a transition period for parents working from home. If the children interrupt, you can address their issue and gently remind them you’re starting work. It’s also a good time to deal with morning email but if so, set a timer while doing it to avoid sidetracks.
Whether it’s a headset for your phone or a “babywear” carrier, going hands-free can make work easier so you can hand your child a sippy cup while on a conference call. Holding babies near the body can quiet them while leaving you available to type.
Eating at regular intervals is essential and taking a break will actually help your concentration when you resume work. For work-from-home parents it also gives you a chance to spend time with your kids, and it rewards them for – hopefully – being quiet while you were working.
People, especially parents, who switch to working from home tend to have fantasies that they’ll accomplish twice as much in less time. The truth is you won’t magically become the perfect career person, parent and Martha Stewart combined. Give up perfection for production. Be realistic when you make your to-do list and realize that giving up a commute doesn’t add hours to your day.
Or whenever your normal, in-office work day would end. While it’s tempting to do one more thing, taking a break from work is important for your mental health and setting healthy work time boundaries is essential for that. For working parents, it helps your children’s adjustment to your work schedule because it makes it easier for them to honor the times they’re not supposed to bother you. If they know that they get mommy or daddy time at 5:30 p.m., it will be easier for them to wait than if their parents keep saying “give me more time.”
Improve Work from Home Efficiency with Box&Co
Clearing space when setting up a work-from-home space is essential. Box&Co. allows you to put items into storage while providing the convenience of pick up, delivery, and our heavy duty plastic storage containers. Pack your items and when you’re ready, we’ll pick your stuff up and store them. We’ll return your items when they’re needed, and you can keep track of your stored items online. To learn more, contact us today.