Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Jun 20, 2007

Maximize Your Work at Home Day

Instructor, Caroline Bender

Ten years ago, as the Internet culture was gearing up, the Company thought of lots of ways to keep you working: bagels, and foozball, and comfortable clothes, and on-site day care and dry cleaning and Friday night movies.

Now that they have us trained, they can support our Work at Home days, which are just like your Work-all-Night days except the termite man can come.

The Work at Home is either a blessing or a curse, depending on both your work and your home, with a little of your ethic thrown in. The Finishing School offers some guidance on making the most of your Work at Home.

OK...Not OK..?
A faculty member of this site accuses the Work-at-Home of squandering their time and running too many personal errands.

a) she has never sent 42 emails between 1130 and 1245, which is almost mathematically impossible...and
b) she is not paying enough attention to what her staff does under her nose.

But let's say you want to make a good faith effort at Rules of Engagement for Work at Home day. What's "in scope"?

Life management phone calls - OK
Just as much as they are in the office. And easier, too, to describe your rash, order lingerie, and beg your mortgage officer. I have a hunch the internet was invented so people could do these things quietly. I know for sure that IM was.

Chores - Within reason
If you're not running the laundry, you're being played for a fool.
Anything that doesn't require fixed attention (oven nachos - OK; planked salmon- maybe not) is fair. After all, you don't have a staff, and the reason these things aren't done in the first place is because you're working all the time.

Poolside/Deckside/Lawnchairs - yes, yes, and yes
Get outside, would you? If you can be contacted by all your lojak devices, no one cares whether you are actually in the home office. Besides, the wireless signal is better out there. Just be working: not at the mall, Skate Nation, or texting through the matinee. And beach sand is hard to explain to IT when they collect your "resource" for maintenance.

Nap - Surgeons do it, why not you?
You have said many times that there should be an on-call room in the office. There should; it's exhausting there. So take a nap. Keep it to an hour and put your away message on.

Lunchtime DVD - Fine by me.
No fair to nap and have a movie on the same day. That's just mean to the lads on the front.

Phone meetings on mute - Yes, or the movie will distract people.
Surfing the web while on the phone meeting is the same as daydreaming in the conference, so just do it.

What about the kids?
Miss Bender doesn't have the first idea. Shouldn't they be at the playground, flirting with the ice cream man and learning how to smoke? Oh, I see your point.
Don't try to be the Kool-Aid Mom and work-at-home, unless you really do work at home every day. You won't do either sufficiently, you'll get on your own nerves, and the next thing you know you're on Dr. Phil.

How to Manage the Day

Own your environment
Whatever hampers your work environment, correct it at home. Adjust the tempertaure, the noise level, smoke at your desk, let the cat sit on your feet, whatever you need to create the ideal space you don't get the rest of the week.

Limit the type of activity
We recommend that you pigeonhole what you do on this day; that is, schedule all your phone meetings, or your writing projects. The budget review, or that Power Point prezo. Why bring the frenzied pingpong of your cubeworld into your nice sanctuary. Treat this time like a project and the day slows down considerably."

Pretend you are a consultant
Finishing School Upperclasswomen know our foundation "everyone is a consultant." In the little consultancy business you run, you are working today for This Company. And they will get your best, until it is time to stop for the day.

Look forward to it
Remember when you were young and energetic and smart? You read the trades and thought up new ideas with all the enthusiasm of a 7th grader making a science project? She's still in there, and she's sharpening up her colored pencils for you.

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