The following guest post is from Blessing at Working Mom Journal:
Many people who work at home do not establish ground rules or work habits that could help develop their careers. The truth is — whether you are working away from home or at home — professionalism matters. As an entrepreneur, you don’t want to be perceived as lazy and unprofessional. Professionalism must be fully conveyed during your work hours to show seriousness and ensure effectiveness.
Here are my few tips to cultivating the habit of professionalism at home:
1. Image is everything.
Recognize that you have to dress the part. I know you probably don’t meet clients in person, but wearing your pajamas or a ‘who cares’ shirt is probably not the best way to start your day. Establish a business casual dress code, which will increase your confidence as you get started with your day. And if you ever need to rush to meet a client for coffee or for any other reason, you won’t have to waste time taking a shower and freshening up.
2. Create an Office Space.
Secure an area in your home as an office. Refrain from using the living room as your office because it is not; chances are you will never get to your entire to-do list that way. Your office should be clear of distractions such as TV, cable, card games, CDs, etc. An office space should only contain things that are connected to your work/business. These include desk, chair, files, cabinets, books, bookcases, accessories, etc.
3. Have a Clear Mission Statement.
Are you an entrepreneur or working for a corporation? What is your mission and goal? Write and display your mission statement. This will not only keep you focused on your work during the day, it will also keep you in check when feel the need to procrastinate.
Accessorize your walls with your certifications, degrees, and achievements. Some people refer to this as self-promotion; I call it self-motivation. Back when I was getting my degree in Chemical Engineering and projects got so tough, I decided to get a frame for my degree. Whenever I get so frustrated, I’d stare long and hard at my frame, and it gave me the extra motivation to forge ahead. This was what got me through my college years with a 15-month old daughter in hand. Feel free to throw in quotable quotes and words of wisdom. My desktop picture is one I got from Life Your Way Resources, it helps me stay focused (and it’s free).
Choose modern furnishings that are easily accessible, sleek and conservative. Keep your mess to a minimum. Place your computer and its accessories in reachable locations, to help decrease distractions while working.
6. Keep Your House Clean.
If you will have clients coming over, make sure your office area looks clean and that all litter boxes are emptied, garbage is clean, leftovers discarded. The last thing you want is your client feeling uncomfortable with your home.
Even if you don’t have clients over, keeping your home clean will remove distractions that might threaten your productivity and, ultimately, your success.
7. Phone Communication.
When working from home, you most likely will be on various conference calls. Keep your tone calm and firm. Make sure you speak up and communicate clearly and effectively. Act professional at all times, and provide a clear recap of all action items before getting off the phone. This helps you clear your thoughts and re-confirm your to-do list.
8. Email Communication.
Chances are you email frequently due to the nature of your job. Email on the job is a formal communication tool and should look formal at all times. All communications must start formal with a greeting (Dear Blessing), a closing (Sincerely or Regards) and a signature with your title, department, work location and work phone number.
Do you work from home? How do you convey professionalism while still embracing the flexibility of working from home?
Blessing Oshin is a full-time engineer and a mother. She blogs at Working Mom Journal where she offers career and life advice to working women.