If you're at a point in your life where you're seeking a better work/life balance, you may be thinking about setting up a home office and exploring the possibility of working from home. If you've got active children in the home, you may also be wondering if working from a home office is a viable option for you -- after all, you could find yourself being interrupted constantly by the kids when you're trying to work.
Here's how to send the message to your family that you mean business when you're in your new home office.
Avoid Making It an All-Purpose Home Office
Many families choose to have a home office that's available for use by all family members, and this situation works out well for families where no one depends on the office to complete the duties of a full-time job. For instance, a communal home office is appropriate for those times when adults in the household occasionally work from home. Parents may use this type of office for paying bills and other household responsibilities, and children may find it an optimal environment for doing their homework and other scholastic obligations.
However, trying to transition an all-purpose family office into a designated work space for an individual member of the family usually falls flat. Family members are too used to having free run in the space. If possible, choose another room for your office. You may be better off with sectioning off a corner of your bedroom rather than trying to re-purpose your family's existing home office.
Get Real Office Furniture
One of the biggest mistakes made by those who decide to take the plunge into the wonderful world of working at home is failing to invest in real office furniture. Instead, their home offices become repositories for household cast-offs -- old, sofas and chairs that would be better off donated to a thrift store charity often find their way into newly formed home offices.
One of the problems with re-purposing household furniture for use in the home office is that children and other family members associate the furniture with other parts of the household. Another is that furniture designed for use in family homes generally doesn't work in office spaces. You need an office chair that provides ergonomic benefits, for instance, such as back, neck, and arm support, and most household chairs just don't offer this.
If you have small children in your home, it is possible that they will want to spin around in your swivel chair, but you need to discourage this from happening. Making your office chair off limits to your children provides a greats way of emphasizing that what you do is work rather than play.
Don't Be Afraid to Get Childcare
When young children are a part of the picture, getting good childcare can make all the difference between success and failure when it comes to working at home unless your partner is available to look after the kids while you work. Many of those new to working from home make the mistake of thinking they can handle their employment obligations while looking after babies and toddlers, and many parents find themselves more than ready to go back to working in a traditional office after a few months of working from home while trying to watch their children at the same time.
If your kids are old enough to be in elementary school, you'll be able to get by with after-school childcare, and most older kids will be fine on their own for an hour or two after they get out of school.