Gone are the days where working from home means sitting in pajamas all day. While it’s definitely a perk not to have to battle the morning commute anymore, working from home or remotely is a great privilege that comes with professional and personal responsibility. Whether you’re branching out on your own as a freelancer or have negotiated remote arrangements with your current employer, here are the golden rules to follow to make it work for you.

1. Create a designated workspace

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be even trickier to manage when you work from home. Although working from the sofa may sound comfy, it’s not ideal for productivity on a day-to-day basis.

Create a specific working area that is separate from your living space. This could be anything from a home office, desk in a quiet corner of your dining room, or a special nook by a window. There are tons of benefits to doing this. Having the proper space for your computer, files, and other essentials makes working easier, helps limit distractions, and creates a division between your work and home life.

2. Stick to working hours

Anyone who works from home receives a welcome amount of flexibility in setting their own hours. However, if you’re not careful this could end up with you working from 7 PM until 2 AM or setting other offbeat hours that make it tough to communicate with anyone else on your team.

Try to stick to working hours whenever possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean the rigid 9 to 5 either. If 7 to 3 works better for you, go with that and let your team and management know that you’ll be available during those times. Make sure you establish an end point in your day for switching off from work and switching on to your personal life.

3. Make sure the people around you know that you have a job to do

Your location may be different, but the job you have to do remains just as important. If you have other people around the house with you, let them know that you are working and need to be given peace and quiet with interruptions and distractions kept to a minimum. Your friends and family wouldn’t drop in for a coffee if you were working at the office, so it shouldn’t be any different just because you are working from home.

4. Communicate daily with your main office or core team

This could be via phone, email, text, or Skype and FaceTime. Working from home does not mean that you are working alone. It is important not to feel isolated and that you are still a vital part of a wider team which is why regular communication matters so much. Try not to limit this contact purely to work tasks either. Make it a point to attend events and activities outside of office hours, as showing up can help you solidify and maintain those relationships with colleagues.

5. Make the most of your former commute hours

Now your commute may involve little more than a walk to the other side of your house, you’ve regained an hour, if not more, of your day back again. Don’t use this time to hit snooze for another hour of sleep or play around on the internet! Instead, start your morning with a run outside in the fresh air or prep your meals for the day. Even engaging in something a little less strenuous such as catching up on the news or reading a chapter of a book is a great way to make the most of the time you used to spend getting from point A to point B.

John Baird is a personal finance expert from Scotland Debt Solutions, part of the Begbies Traynor Group. He advises individuals on money-related issues such as saving, attaining credit, and both formal and informal debt solutions.

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