20 Thoughts on Working At Home (Part Time)

When on earth are two little people in bed at the same time — an hour early.  Let’s start with never.  Wow.  So I’ve been thinking about this post for a while.  First, that work at home myth where you know you have your kid quietly playing in the other room or the sweet pictures saying how wonderful it is to work at home with your baby.  I don’t know what those people are smoking but below is how it works for me.

A year or so ago, I found out we were moving out of our Country to a far away land.  I did the unthinkable — I told my boss as he offered me a promotion.  For me, being upfront and honest is very important.  It’s just me.  Most people advised against telling him.  I just couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t.  This is the second time I’ve had to tell my future employer that I will need to work from home in the near future.  Anyhow, a very difficult move later and I’ve been working at home now for a little over six months.  I thought I would share some thoughts. After having Sweetpea I realized that a daily routine is apparently imperative for me.  So this is mine these days:

Schedule
My Goal Every Weekday

Since we’re anywhere from 13-15 hours ahead of “home”, calls at midnight should mean that kids are asleep.  I would be willing to bet that if I have an important call, someone will have a nightmare, fell out of bed, be hungry, have an accident or need a hug.  (Seriously when do you wake up at midnight kid!!!)

Lessons Learned:

  1. The computer will stop working when you need it to work — write down the conference call phone number (obviously read the material before the call).
    1. Oh don’t forget to charge your phone/laptop prior to meetings 🙂
  2. Keep a local day planner (to where you live) and reference your meetings with your coworkers in their time zone (this is confusing)
  3. Map out your meetings at the beginning of the week in your local time zone
  4. Plan, predict, prioritize…everything (that’s not just true of working at home)
  5. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! (But don’t be a pain in the a$$)
  6. Learn to eat and drink water while working.  I struggling with taking any type of break when I’m working at home.  I’ve actually lost something like 10 pounds because I just don’t eat.
  7. Anticipate problems…that computer upgrade that was announced a week ahead of time…contact your help desk to get it done early.
  8. Actively participate in conference calls…but don’t talk just to hear yourself talk.
  9. Continue to look out for peers and friends as if you were in the office…hey did you see this training that’s coming up? I thought of you.
  10. Find a peer to peer sharing service such as Business Skype/Microsoft Lync to screen share or “talk” with your co-workers (but don’t be a pain!).
  11. Volunteer for things! You can do things even when you’re not physically present in the office.
  12. At some point you will need to print/scan when you’re at home…have that option available.
  13. If you have kids, anticipate problems: START ALL CALLS ON MUTE — For that midnight call you never have — that your kids never wake up for — but do for some reason….it’s fun I promise.
    1. Have a backup plan when they do wake up.  I often have “Daniel Tiger” on pause during my nighttime calls in the off chance Sweetpea wakes up and wants to chat.
  14. Coffee, coffee, coffee.  In all seriousness if you have to wake up at night…avoid the temptation to drink a cup.  Drink water!
  15. If you encounter a problem with your hours during the day (when your boss is sleeping), tell him/her just as if you were in the office.  It’s about building trust.
  16. Avoid the temptation to schedule things during the week that make your work at home schedule impossible.  You’re not a Stay At Home parent so you really can’t meet at 10am on Tuesday unless you re-prioritize your hours (and let your boss know).
  17. Make your work fun!  Get out your white board and think through your thoughts as you would in the office.
    1. Keep a running log of what you do every day! That way if someone wants to know…you can tell them!
  18. Try to sent grammatically correct emails to co-workers, friends and your boss etc.  Your emails represent you now.
  19. Realize that what you thought was obvious via email might be lost in translation.  So if it’s a sensitive topic try to have it via the phone, video conference or some real type method…as if you were walking to someone’s office.
  20. If you/your kids are sick…take a sick day.  No kid wants to remember mom/dad ignoring them when they’re sick.  So if you can…take the sick day.

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