Q. I just had a phone call with one of my co-workers, who works from home. He was huffing and puffing while talking to me, which made me wonder if he was exercising. I found it distracting, but I can be oversensitive. Is it OK for an employee who works from home to make business calls while exercising?
A. The short answer is “No.” From his perspective he’s multitasking effectively. From your perspective, he’s not fully engaged with you. And because his exercising is a significant distraction, you’re not as focused on the issue at hand. The home office looks like a great alternative to the office. And it does have its benefits like the perfect commute. But it also comes with responsibilities. The first of these is to treat your work time as you would if you were at the office.
Here’s other advice:
Set regular work hours. If your significant other or children are home during the day, they should be mindful that you are “at the office.” They shouldn’t be interrupting you except in an emergency.
Dress reasonably for work. That change from pajamas and a bathrobe into slacks and shirt or blouse helps shift your attitude into work mode.
Limit the disruptions. It’s easy to think of the errand you can take care of or that 15-minute chore you could get done during work hours. Those disruptions are a temptation. But they also rob you of productive time. So schedule them just as you would if were at the company office.
Know when to stop. Because you are at home, it’s easy to ignore “quitting time.” You need your personal time just as much when you’re working at home as when you go to the office each day. Besides, will you be paid for all that overtime?
Control your pet. It’s especially important to be careful with your pets when a client, prospect, or colleague comes for a visit. Pet allergies are common, and your meeting may not go well if your visitor is constantly sneezing, flicking off dog hair, or doesn’t appreciate Fido’s friendly licks.
Be a good neighbor. Make sure your business at home doesn’t negatively affect neighbors. Observe any regulations or zoning laws that may be applicable, such as signage for your business. Make sure you don’t hog the available parking spaces.