If you were envisioning yourself working at your kitchen table or typing away on a laptop on your living room couch or lying in bed, you might want to think again. One key to work-at-home success is to have a separate place designated as your work area. It doesn’t need to be an entire room, but make sure you can establish some area in your house or apartment that’s for work and nothing but work.
There are several reasons why you’ll need a separate work space. First, you’ll want to keep all your work supplies and
equipment in one location. You’re not going to feel productive if you spend your day running to different areas of
your home to send a fax, make a phone call, staple a report, or type an email. A properly set up home office should function just like your desk or cubicle at work, where everything important is within arm’s reach.
A home office also serves to keep you away from the many distractions of home—like your fridge and undone chores. Once you make a habit of working only in your home office, a little switch will click in your mind every time you enter it. You’ll automatically focus on your job at hand, and not on the laundry that’s begging to be folded, the dinner
that’s waiting to be cooked, or the many other things you could be doing. Family members are also more likely to respect the barrier of your home office (whether visible or invisible) and let you work.
“If you have a separate area, it’s like you step through a barrier. …[T]hen the tendency is no distractions. You have things to do and (you think) ‘Let’s get it done.’”
—Dani el B., a teleworking computational scientist for Sandia National Laboratories
Finally, having a separate home office allows you to “shut the door” on your job at the end of the day. People who work at an office eventually get to leave it behind, with no worries that their desk will follow them home. That’s not how it is with telework—your work literally lives with you. The only way to create the space you need between your working life and the rest of your life is to physically separate the two.