Friday was my last day at Tremor Media and Monday begins my first day at Crispin Porter + Bogusky ( yes it's + and not & ). So for a couple days I'm technically unemployed but that isn't the big deal about this change. The big deal about this is that Monday morning I will get up, I will get dressed in a way that is appropriate for public consumption, then I will leave the house and, for the first time in 7 years, go into an office to work. For the previous 7 years I have been a work-at-home employee at 3 different companies and, as people tend to do in times of change, I have been reflecting on what I am giving up and thought I would share some nuggets with you. Why should you care? You shouldn't. Why do I think you might care? Because I've spent the last 7 years of my life working at home with 2 kids and my wife in the same home and managed not to get fired and was even productive.
1. Your couch is not your office.
Sorry if you have visions of working at home, crashing comfortably on your couch, feet up, keeping up with Guiding Light and As The World Turns but no matter what you may think you are not being productive. Set up an office space and work in it, having an office space will go a long way to reducing distractions and being productive. You probably already have an office with a personal computer and full of what ever supports your hobby. Make a part of this office 100% for your work. Your hobby will always be more interesting than your work and will distract you if you are staring at it.
Can you spot where my work space used to be?
2. It's 10 pm do you know where your family is?
Set expectations with your peers on when you will be at your desk and then live up to them. Until I figured this out I found myself working all day, eating dinner with the family and then working until my eyes wouldn't stay open and I would go to bed. Then the next day I would start work a little later, do the same thing and stay up a little later. The next day: start later and stay up later and so on until I would just crash and then nothing would get done until I reset. This cycle repeated over and over until I figured out that I need to stop treating this like my own startup and more like a job at a company. I set a start time and, no matter how late I stayed up, I would start working then. I also set a time that I was done at the end of the day and I would turn off the monitor and sound. This doesn't mean I didn't work late sometimes, it means that working late isn't the status quo. Once I started doing this I found that I got burned out a lot less and my family wasn't so frustrated with my absence. This made a lot more since to me after reading Micah's post on burning out.
3. Your phone has a mute button, use it.
Meetings that used to happen in a conference room now happen on the phone and while your office may have been quiet or at least respectful of your call you shouldn't expect as much from the dog or family. Nothing is more distracting than hearing someone's dog yap away, put your phone on mute unless your contributing to the conversation. And while we are on the topic of phone conversations, no one wants to hear how your in your pajamas. Seriously, it might be funny with your friends but it's not with your coworkers.
Well that is my advice to anyone who is getting ready to work from home, it pretty much boils down to being professional. Enjoy your time at home, I sure did but I'm done with it and ready to try office life again. Got some tips about surviving office life? I'd love to hear them in the comments.