There’s a lot of advice about working at home out there, some good, some bad. Recently, I decided to find out what the worst work at home advice people have ever gotten is. Trouble is, after contacting several sources, I only got two responses, both through HelpaReporter.com. I liked them, and so I will share them now.
The first comes from Samuel Wheeler of SD Equity Partners. It’s a real estate equity firm in San Diego that has several remote employees. They were given this advice at a networking event!
“What your employer doesn’t know, won’t hurt them. Leave out non-important details that may make you look bad.”
I cannot stress how wrong this is. A good employer wants to help every employee succeed. Without a transparent flow of information companies cannot help their employees grow. Companies succeed by collecting data, analyzing the data, and creating new policies to help both the staff and the business succeed.
Telecommuters that leave out details, especially negative ones, are hurting themselves in the long run because their company will not know or be able to help due to lack of information. People make mistakes from time to time and good companies will not hold mistakes against their employees.
I have to agree that failing to tell your employer about things just because you’re worried about looking bad is a really bad idea. Good communication between employer and employee is vital, and all the more so when you aren’t in an office together.
This doesn’t mean you need to tell your boss everything that happens in your work day, but if it has to do with your job performance, they generally need to know. You might be surprised at what they can do to help you. It might not be right away, but the only way things will get better is if your employer knows! Swallow your pride and admit it when there’s a problem.
The next response came from Max Robinson of Ace Work Gear. It has to do with working late at night.
I’ve worked from home for the past 7 years of my life, and although I was excited to start with I was very nervous as well, so I asked a friend of mine who worked from home for advice. She said that the best thing about working from home is that you don’t have to stick to a 9-5 schedule, and that she tends to do most of her work late at night. I tried this for a week and found it to be terrible advice. It takes me far longer to get work done at night as my brain tends to shut off after 9pm, so I had a very unproductive week! I much prefer to get up early and get as much work done as I can in the morning, so I can relax during the evenings and get a good sleep.
This is a more personal preference, but there’s a very good point to be made here. What was good advice to his friend was terrible advice to him. She loves working late at night, while he doesn’t function at all at night, and prefers to get things done early.
What you should take away from this example is that you need to set your work hours by when you are most productive whenever you can. Don’t assume that you have to be a night owl or an early bird to be productive at home. Work when it’s best for you, not when someone else says is best.
I can think of other examples of bad work at home advice, such as “work at your kitchen table.” It’s necessary for some people, but if you have alternatives, it’s not ideal at all. It’s too noisy, and it’s hard to make a good setup that won’t be disrupted regularly. The same goes for working on the couch or in your bedroom. You’re better off if you can dedicate a small home office space with a door you can close. Not everyone can do that, but it’s the ideal.
Then there’s keeping your kids around while you work. I’ve been able to get away with that the entire time I’ve worked at home, but it is not a good idea for everyone. Some jobs require your full attention or a quiet room, and if you have children underfoot, that isn’t going to happen. Be realistic about how much of a distraction your children are when you need to work, and figure out a babysitting exchange, have local family members help if they’re willing, get your spouse involved during the hours they’re home… find a way to handle the distraction that comes from kids and watch your productivity soar.
So much work at home advice is bad because it shows that many people don’t take working at home seriously. They treat it more as a hobby than a job or business. If you want to succeed, that’s not a good idea.
I’d love to hear from any readers about bad work at home advice they’ve received. It’s fine if it’s bad due to your personal preferences rather than advice that’s bad for everyone. Just share advice that hasn’t worked for you personally.