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After more than 15 years working full-time in an office, spending long hours beyond the traditional 9-5, and frequently traveling for business, my current job gave me room to prioritize my family without feeling guilty, just by giving me the biggest perk ever: a home office. From higher productivity and employee engagement levels, to lower overhead costs, corporations and businesses of all sizes are realizing the benefits of allowing their employees to work remotely.
A recent report from FlexJobs says that “there are 3.9 million Americans who work from home at least half the time. Hiring managers are predicting more than one-third of employees will work remotely in the next 10 years. But until that time comes, people looking for jobs in 2017 made ‘remote/work from home’ the fourth most popular job search term of the year.”
The home office is a trend that is here to stay. Here are some of the things that no one told me I would experience when I switched from being a full-time office working mom to a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom.
Having a home office is absolutely amazing; you will be happier and more productive
I can’t find the words to describe how convenient and awesome working from home has been for me as a career-driven mom. Being able to organize my day around my family is a dream come true.
Since my children are still very young, my husband and I decided it would be best for them to stay home with mommy. We hired a nanny so that I can make the most out of my working hours, and then disconnect to spend valuable time with my little ones. If I’m on deadlines, you will find me back online when everyone else in the house is sleeping and I couldn’t be happier.
I’m also faster and more efficient than ever before. Why? Because happiness increases productivity. According to Forbes, a study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees.
Setting up an office space is important
If you want to set yourself up for success in terms of productivity, you need to clearly establish a difference at home between areas to relax, have fun, eat and work. If you do it all in the same space, it will be hard to disconnect from one activity and focus on the next one. You can choose a room or a corner. The point is to choose a spot for your work computer and help your brain switch from mom-mode to work-mode, and vice versa.
We have a room at home that is our office/guest room. Our kids know that when I’m sitting in my desk, I’m working. They have learned to stop by just to drop a kiss or give me a hug, and move on to a different area in the house to play. They know “mami está trabajando.”
You will save time
Not having to commute gives me more time to get started with work tasks earlier in the day. Also, the time I used to spend getting ready, I now use to have breakfast with my children and prepare to share daily insights with our nanny as she takes over our children’s care.
You will save money
If you are like me and don’t need to wear high heels, make up, branded purses and business outfits every day to feel fantastic, you will be delighted to work from home. Your basic corporate clothes will do the job whenever you have an in person meeting or a video conference call. You will not need to renew or update wardrobe every quarter. Yay!
You will feel the need to create and follow a routine
Routines are as important for kids as they are for adults. They help provide structure in our lives. The best thing I could have done when transitioning from being a full-time office employee to a stay-at-home/working-from-home mom was to keep the routine I used to have. I still wake up as early as when I worked in an office and get ready before I kick off our morning routine with the kids. That way, by the time Daddy leaves home and our nanny comes in, we are ready to face our day, each one of us in our home space. Our routine provides us a structure that fosters healthy habits and gets us ready for the day.
You will need to leave the house every now and then
Working from home can sometimes be a bit isolating, and so leaving the house to switch environments can be a healthy change. I don’t necessarily need to do it for work, as I have everything I need to function efficiently from the comfort of my home and enjoy being close to my babies. But I do plan outings with the kids in the afternoons, so that the three of us can breathe a different air and get the chance to create memories somewhere else. By the time Dad comes home, we all love our time together, back at home.
The noises around your neighborhood can be an issue
The first time I was on a call and heard a huge truck in front of my house, I was caught off guard. Any loud noise you are used to hearing at home feels louder when you are on a call! It happened to me a few times before I realized our condominium schedules certain maintenance activities a couple of mornings during weekdays. What do I do to manage this circumstance I can’t control? I don’t set up any important video or audio meetings around those times, and if I can’t control the times for some calls, I prepare to take them in a different area of the house, so it doesn’t take me by surprise anymore.