Have a Backup Plan
In my decade of working from home, I've learned the hard way that technology has feelings, too. My cable Internet modem, for example, is very sensitive to heightened anxiety levels in my home. When I have a particularly tight deadline for an article, or am about to conduct a very important interview on my Internet-powered phone, the modem senses my panic and responds the only way it knows how: It crashes.
Just a few months ago, I found myself knocking on my neighbors' door at 10:30 p.m. to hijack their Internet connection so I could upload and e-mail an important file. They seemed less than thrilled to see me.
If you are going to work from home, you need a "plan B." There are any number of mini-crises that can erupt at home and threaten to derail the workday: loss of power/Internet service, unscheduled playdates, or a neighbor chopping down a tree a few feet from your office window.
So, you need an alternative workspace. It should be someplace close to your home with a reliable Internet connection where you can work in peace. It can be a friend's apartment, a library or even the backseat of your car parked within WiFi range of a coffee shop (useful for after-hours emergencies).
For lots more tips about working from home and striking a healthy work-life balance, see the related articles below.
Author's Note: How to Work From Home: 10 Real-world Tips
Despite the rising number of Americans who work at least part-time from home, there is an enduring suspicion that to say, "I work from home" is a fancy way of saying, "I don't have a real job." I think this skepticism is fueled by dubious e-mails promising "$10,000 a month working from home!" (Sure, if you have a crystal meth lab in the basement.) And then there's the assumption that real work has to happen at a real office with reserved parking spots, nameplates, secretaries and a conference room that nobody uses. If you choose to work from home, here's a tip for avoiding awkward explanations when asked, "So what do you do?" Steer clear of the actual phrase, "I work from home." Call yourself an "independent contractor" in whatever field you specialize in, or a "small business owner" if the label remotely applies. Or just tell them what you do and keep the whole "home" thing to yourself. Think of it this way: if everyone found out how good you have it at home, no one would want to go to the office. Think about how lonely the water cooler would get. As we know, they have feelings, too.
- Bloom, Nicholas et al. "Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment." Stanford University. Feb. 22, 2013. (Sept. 13, 2013) http://www.stanford.edu/~nbloom/WFH.pdf
- Noonan, Mary C.; Glass, Jennifer L. "The hard truth about telecommuting." Monthly Labor Review. June 2012. (Sept. 13, 2013) http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/06/art3full.pdf
- Orsini, Patricia. "The Great Shrinking Office? More Companies Hire Remote Workers: Survey." CNBC. June 14, 2012. (Sept. 13, 2013) http://www.cnbc.com/id/47815587
- Wilcox, Ryan. "The Beginner's Guide to Working from Home." Lifehacker. July 10, 2013. (Sept. 13, 2013) http://lifehacker.com/the-beginners-guide-to-working-from-home-733412770
HowStuffWorks looks at companies that have successfully switched from five days of work to four, with spectacular results. So, why don't more try it?