So you’ve landed your dream job working from home. Sometimes, however, you have to be careful what you ask for. Sure, working from home is great – no commute, no dress code, etc. But there are also some negatives, like no structure, no human interaction, and no direction. However, you can turn those negatives into positives by using them to develop some key professional skills that will help you succeed in any job. Here’s how:
When you work from home, you won’t have people stopping by your desk to check on the status of their projects. You’ll have to decide on your own which tasks have priority and take it upon yourself to work on those until they’re done. Likewise, there’s nobody to notice if you don’t start work until 10 a.m., or if you take a two-hour lunch. You have to be able to summon up the initiative and self-discipline to be responsible for your own work habits. You’ll also have to take the initiative when it comes to filling in your own skill gaps. If there’s something you don’t know how to do, you’ll have to do your own research to learn that skill.
When you’re working at home, you can’t just call over your shoulder, “Hey, does anybody know the status of the XYZ account?” And you can’t just call IT if your email isn’t working. You have to be able to solve problems on your own without letting your other responsibilities slide.
Sometimes working at home can be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.” Your colleagues are probably not going to reach out to you unless they need something. It’s going to be up to you to touch base every day – or maybe even more often – so that they’ll remember you’re part of the team.
Working at home can seem like the perfect opportunity to accomplish your dream of mastering sourdough bread or the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Or maybe the renovation you’re doing on your old Mustang will be calling you. Or it could just be a pile of laundry. It’s kind of like your relaxed, I’m-comfy-at-home self is competing with your professional self to take control of your day. It takes a lot of focus to ignore all those distractions and get your work done.
One thing a lot of people discover when they’re working from home is that friends and family don’t take their work seriously anymore. Your parents may call to ask you to go pick up some milk and eggs, or your neighbor might need you to let her dog out. And your best friend may think you’re the perfect person to look after her sick child so she can go to work. To be successful working from home, you need a well-developed sense of resolve so that you can say “no” even when people you love are pressuring you to give up some of your work day.
If you’ve always worked in an office, you might not even realize how much built-in organizational support there is in that environment. Once you’re at home, though, it becomes painfully clear that it’s all on you. Deadlines, priorities, paperwork, record-keeping…if you don’t develop strong organizational skills right away, working from home will quickly spin out of control.
At first glance, working at home (in your pajamas, right?) might not seem like the best way to develop your professional skills. But, in reality, it requires strong skills in areas that are crucial to success in any endeavor: initiative, self-reliance, communication, focus, resolve, and organization.
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