Many of us dream of working from home. Who wouldn’t want to trade in his boring cubicle for the comfort and flexibility of a home office? Not to mention that working at home would put an end to this whole “wearing pants” tyranny we’ve dealt with for years. But even if you do land that dream job — or convince your current employer to let you make jammies your new uniform — you’ll need a few things to make your nest into a proper home office setup.
1. Internet access.
You can probably get away without almost everything else on this list, but unless you stuff envelopes or paint faces on baby dolls for a living, you’ll need to be able to get online. It’s good to note that quality of internet connection is important here, too. This is not the time to travel back to 1995 and your cheap dial-up. Many companies with WAH policies insist on steady internet connections as a way of keeping tabs on their employees, even when surfing the web isn’t constantly required for work purposes.
2. A desk.
Specifically, you want a grown-up person’s desk with plenty of places to put all your papers and paperclips and cords and peripheral devices. You can get by with the cruddy plywood student desk you used when you were in college, but with actual mahogany and cherry desks available for not very much more, why skimp?
3. Ergonomic accessories.
Don’t make your work-at-home experience into an ergonomic nightmare. You don’t have to get duded up like Tron to make this work: a few well-placed keyboard trays and monitors will make your WAH a much more pleasant and productive situation.
4. A phone.
In these days of texting instead of calling, many of us forget about phones altogether. But if you work at home, you’ll need to make sure that you have one. Again reliability of connection is important here, so think about investing in a landline if your cell phone service is spotty. There’s nothing worse than being the person who’s always doing his Verizon Guy impression at every meeting.
5. Peace and quiet.
Now is not the time to start dog sitting for the neighbors or to invite the entire third-grade class over to enjoy your son’s new playground set. You need to minimize distractions exactly as you would if you were in the office. Just think of your family as that annoying guy who talks on the phone all the time in the next cubicle over.
Got all that down? Now all you have to do is convince your supervisor that working at home will benefit the company as well as your peace of mind. The good news is that you might find her more willing to listen to your argument than you might think. Recent studies have shown that work-at-home employees are more productive and create better quality work than those who trudge into an office. Working at home might well be the ultimate win-win situation.
Just leave out the bit about working in your jammies.