Cape Town - Whether you are in Berlin or Bloemfontein,
people who work work from home need self-discipline and a set routine.
There are a lot of advantages to working from home, but when
people don't set rules on when and where they work, things can go awry, life
coach Ariane Wahl told Sapa-dpa.
Working from home is appealing to a lot of people because it
means saving the time it takes to commute to an office, not to mention the
expense of a driving or taking public transport.
Before making arrangements to work from home, however,
people should make sure they have certain basics, including a room to work in
and a good desk chair.
They also should follow a few simple tricks to keep
themselves from wasting time.
Life coaches and other counsellors who assist freelancers in
managing their time say loss of motivation is the most obvious problem
affecting people who work from home.
They say people can quickly lose their
motivation if they don't stick to the rules they set out for themselves.
"You have to ask how you can discipline yourself,"
said Wahl, who runs a coaching agency in Germany. A fixed structure for the day
can help people who are undisciplined and lack motivation.
"It helps to
create core hours in which to work, have a fixed midday break and set
deadline," Wahl said.
Gudela Grote, professor of labour and psychology at the
polytechnic university in Zurich, considers the biggest danger for people who
work from home is the blending of private and work space.
"The setting of boundaries doesn't happen on its own
any longer. You have to actively set them," she said.
through the way you dress, through the definition of work time and place and
through the time set aside for breaks."
A separate room is the best solution for defining a
workspace in the home. It means the door can be closed behind you, said Wahl, a
member of the German association for education and career counselling.
Wahl also said people shouldn't try to save money when
setting up their office. "You must invest in a comfortable office chair.
The room needs the character of a workspace. It sounds banal, but it is
It not only makes a difference for the freelancer to have a
small office in the home, it also is important for their partner and family.
"You have to be able to break away from the
family," said Wahl. "When the door closes it not only gives you the
feeling that this is where I work. The family also knows they are not allowed
to disturb you."
Not everyone has a room available to convert to a home
office. If that is the case, clear communication with one's partner and family
members becomes all the more important.
Even when you have to sit at a desk in
the middle of the living room, the rest of the family must consider it work,
said Esther Kimmel, a career coach in Berlin.
For work that requires a high
level of concentration, Wahl recommends using the time when everyone is out of
Discipline is not the only factor that determines how well someone
gets along working from home. People who are very social need to build bridges,
said Wahl. Otherwise, they could become lonesome.
People who like being around
others but work alone from home have to find ways to make contacts, for example
in a network of people who do the same type of work.
The same goes for people who need assurance about their work
before they can continue. They can exchange ideas with like-minded people in a
People who are still affiliated with a company can
take their lunch break at the company cafeteria where they can meet and chat
with colleagues. It's a way to keep informed about what's going on in the
No matter the personality type, everyone who works from home
can suffer from burnout and being overloaded. Kimmel said the danger of
suffering burnout is actually greater because the boundaries are so unclear.
"Many people who work from home have the feeling that
they never are able to completely switch off," Kimmel said. There are a
number of little tricks that can help avoid being overworked.
"Finding rituals that
signal the beginning and the conclusion of work can bring in some clarity. I
often work at an old bureau at home and when I close it, I'm finished
The experts also have a tip for people who have just started
working from home: at the beginning it's helpful to keep a diary.
"It can be used to reflect when and how you worked best and what the conditions were," said Grote. "That's how I find a good way of working for myself."