Four tips for surviving work from home

|     Anke Dankers     |

LYING in a hammock, notebook computer on lap, perhaps a coffee in hand – the reality of working from home is nothing like the dream. Working from home is a goal for many, but it also has its pitfalls, including the risk of isolation and overwork. Here are some tips on how to avoid the most common risks.

Stay in touch

Out of sight, out of mind – home workers can easily lose contact with their company. “If you work from home, you can still be diligent but others don’t see it,” said management consultant Jennifer Reckow. You can also become cut off from information that’s relevant to everyday company business. It’s also important for one’s psychological well-being to know one’s role in the company, said corporate psychologist Julia Scharnhorst.

Create a separate workplace

Working between the unwashed dishes and the ironing board isn’t ideal. Instead of sitting at the kitchen table with a laptop, workers should create a stable workplace with appropriate equipment, Scharnhorst recommends. Occupational safety and data protection should also be given as much thought in the home office as in the company’s office.

Instead of sitting at the kitchen table with a laptop, workers should create a stable workplace with appropriate equipment

Set limits

The tempo of work tends to be higher at home rather than lower, despite what’s commonly believed. “Many people work more out of a bad conscience,” Scharnhorst says. “The tendency is towards self-exploitation.”

This is partly because the worker feels they must be constantly available. But then there’s also the household work and, often, childcare to be looked after. To avoid burnout, the psychologist recommends that home workers set clear limits to their working hours.

Take breaks

Everyone needs breaks in the working day, whether at home or in the office. But breaks often aren’t taken regularly enough at home.

“You should plan break times firmly,” Scharnhorst said. “This requires self-discipline but it leads to a better separation between work and private time.” – Text & Photo by dpa