Home ... It's Where The Office Is: How To Work Without Leaving The House

For almost anyone who doesn't work on a Google campus, office life can cause a host of maladies. Memo-itis, endless meeting disease and cubicle madness all afflict office workers at an alarming rate. For those seeking relief, a world of endless fresh coffee and pants-less conference calls might help. Ask your boss if working from home might be right for you.

"When I started my home-based business, I had three young daughters and I was able to work my schedule around theirs," says Debbi Weinstein, founder of life organization business I've Gotta Get Organized, Inc.

"The biggest benefit of working from home is being able to stay in my pajamas all day," says Aric Knuth, an English professor at the University of Michigan. "To plow through 40 essays is really hard work. To be able to stay home all day - in my pajamas - and just wander around my house making good coffee and pampering myself a little bit makes that difficult work much better."

Working from home has been shown to decrease instances of reply-all outbreaks and other symptoms associated with generalized office disorder by up to 90 percent. Working from home also has been known to have many side effects, including: napping, snacking, upset stomach, distraction and procrastination.

"The biggest danger of working from home is you get yourself wrapped up in a million different house projects when you should be doing your job," Knuth said.

TV, video games, tumblr, GIFs, house projects and Netflix all increase the risk of distraction dramatically. In order to decrease these risks, a dedicated personal workspace is highly suggested.

"I definitely recommend that everybody have their own work space," Weinstein says. "As soon as (people) come into your area, your stuff is in their way. So, they're moving stuff out of the way and making a mess of what you've been working on."

"When my partner is at work, I take over the house," Knuth says. "There are work sites set up in piles or papers here or there. But when he comes home, I stop working. I just can't really do it. The house changes. Everything changes. It becomes a domestic space again."

For those with a spare room, a full home office is an easy solution. For those in apartments or smaller accommodations, it can take some customization to make this treatment work.

"Set up a chair or a cushion, mood music or whatever it is that gets you in the right mood to do that work," Weinstein says. "Light a candle, get a glass of wine. What is it that helps you work best and gets you from living area to work area?"

For those who experience distraction while working from home, it tends to be a chronic condition. As such, it's important to fill the workspace area with easy access to the things that you need. Preventing unnecessary exertion increases focus and leads to better organizational skills.

 

"You shouldn't ever have to get up to file or retrieve the things that are most important to you and the things that you touch most often," Weinstein says. "By nature, we're lazy; we're not going to get up to walk across the room to file something."

Make sure to schedule regular times for visiting your workspace to increase productivity.

"It's easy to take more of a laissez-faire attitude and not schedule work time like you would if you were at an office. It's important to schedule your time," Weinstein says.

One of the many reasons people choose working from home as the treatment for their generalized office disorder is its time-saving benefits. With some simple lifestyle adjustments, patients can maximize their free time and keep the focus on work.

"If you do a lot of postage, I think you should have a postage meter," Weinstein says. "I say to my clients who work 24 hours a day, 'Instead of going to do your laundry, have somebody do it and bring it to you.' Any kind of services that makes your life easier, so you're not driving around, are always important for your productivity."

 

The Perfect Workspace

 

Lighting: When cooped up in a workspace, you can sometimes feel cramped. Natural light brightens a room, increases focus and helps you feel more comfortable.

Seating: Each person will require different ergonomic options. Picking something customized and comfortable, whether plush chair or floor pad, will help decrease stiffness and discomfort. Equally important is a desk that allows for minimal reaching.

Filing: For maximum productivity, organization is required. However records are kept, they should be organized logically and kept locally.

No-nos: Unless your job requires it, do not bring TVs or video games into the workspace. Distractions like these make working less effective and increase risk of procrastination.

 

The Financial Aspect

 

"You're able to write off some of the expenses for your home, such as a portion your utilities, your home internet," says Alan Semonian, CPA and owner of Ameritax Plus in Berkley. "If it's your home base for your business then the mileage away from your home location may be deductible.

"If you do write off a portion of your home, when you sell your house, that's now business property. That could potentially cause a taxable event that would be tax-free otherwise. Always consult a financial professional about what would be better. There's the potential for write-offs in a home office, but they're not necessarily any greater than owning your own business."