Countless employees dream of being granted the privilege of working from home, and understandably so. Working from home has multiple advantages -- saving money on commuting costs, getting to do laundry during the day, and being available for deliveries, just to name a few. But to be successful at working from home, you'll need the right tools and setup. Here are a few items to check off your list of essentials.
1. A dedicated space
You don't necessarily need a separate office with its own set of doors to work well from the comfort of home. But if you think you'll do just fine on the couch amid the pillows and usual stacks of magazines, think again. Without a proper workspace, even the simplest of tasks might start to take longer, thus slowing down your productivity. So make sure you have room to spread out, set up your laptop, and have whatever physical files you need accessible -- even if it means converting your dining room table to your makeshift office.
2. A distraction-free environment
It's easy to get distracted in any working environment, including your actual company's office. But if you're planning to work from home, you'll need to take extra care to ensure that your distractions are minimized. That's because when you work in an office, you can only get away with so much chatting or online shopping before your manager starts to take notice. When you do your job from home, that same level of monitoring doesn't exist -- so if you happen to share an apartment with roommates who are home during the day and tend to host video game tournaments, that setup probably won't work.
3. Reliable tools
Maybe you're used to bumming Wi-Fi off your upstairs neighbor to save money on internet costs. But while there's nothing wrong with doing that for leisure purposes, it probably won't fly if you start working from home on the regular. Depending on what you do, you'll typically need a solid internet connection, a reasonably fast computer, and possibly a landline. Make sure you can afford to pay for these, or that your company will, before deciding to work from home. Otherwise, you might quickly fall down on the job.
4. Solid time management skills
As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of working from home is the ability to tend to some personal tasks (reasonably speaking) during the workday. For example, if you have a meal that needs to cook for two hours, rather than wait until 6:00 p.m. to get home and start prepping as you would when working from an office, you can throw it together at 4:00 p.m. so that it's ready come dinnertime. The downside of this flexibility, however, is that you risk coming up short on daily tasks because you're busy tending to household items. That's why time management skills are crucial for anyone who plans to work from home. If you can't trust yourself to stay on top of deadlines, you're better off working from an office to avoid compromising your job.
5. The right attitude
Though work-from-home arrangements have become more popular in recent years, remember that doing so is a privilege, not an automatic right. That's why it's important to have a good attitude going in. Working from home isn't an invitation to slack off or sneak in movie matinees when you're supposed to be plugging away at your desk. Rather, it's an allowance that employers give to help people like you achieve a better work-life balance. Mess it up, and in a best-case scenario, you'll have that privilege revoked. In a worst-case scenario, you'll risk losing your job altogether.
Working from home isn't for everyone, but if you're eager to give it a try, make sure you're in a good position to do it well. Otherwise, you could end up hurting your career in a very big way.