Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: hobish on February 09, 2013, 03:41:44 AM

Title: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: hobish on February 09, 2013, 03:41:44 AM

Forgive my sentence structure, please.

My job is collateral risk management. I look at paperwork and numbers, and financial tolerances. It's really boring to most people. Don't get me wrong, it isn't exciting; but I am good at it and I like it most of the time. Right now I am on a new project. I am overwhelmed.

The only way I can get done all the stuff is to work from home. I like that i can work from home. I like that I have that option. I could use some tips on separating them. I like home. I like my job. I have potential to be a jerk on both fronts.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: Penguin_ar on February 09, 2013, 06:34:33 AM
What are you having a problem with? Are you tempted to watch TV/ answer personal phone calls?  Or is your spouse/ kids interrupting and you are looking for etiquette approved ways to tell them to stay away from you during working hours?  Are you looking for polite ways to tell your boss not to call you after hours/ at weekends/ how to tell him you are overwhelmed?
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: Sophia on February 09, 2013, 07:55:18 AM

Never do Work stuff and Home stuff at the same time.  When you do, you do each 1/3 as well as normal. 

Have a designated place to do work.  It doesn't have to be an office.  I used to work from home, and my office was the other side of the king bed.  (I lived alone)  I had pillows and bolsters arranged to make a nice comfy chair and the laptop was on the nightstand.  If you live with people, have a sign so they know to not bug you during work.

It goes without saying that you need to get at least as much work done while at home as if you were at work. 

For me personally, I liked to work in about three big chunks of time, rather than one long stretch.  For example, I'd wake up at 6:30am to 7:00am and I'd get to work before even leaving the bed.  (I worked for a German company and getting emails out that early would shave a day off the response time)  Then about 10am or so, I'd do life stuff for a couple of hours. Then work, long break and work, then done. 
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: stargazer on February 09, 2013, 10:54:01 AM
I also am confused about your question.   My favorite day is Friday because that's my typical work from home day.  My company actually gets MORE work out of me that day because I can roll out of bed in my pjs and get to work around 7am when normally I don't get to work till 9am.  So I never feel guilty about using a few minutes here and there to wash laundry, tidy up the kitchen for a few minutes, etc.   But again that's because I'm working more hours without putting them on my timecard.  If you are working your regular hours, just do your work and pretend you are not at home.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: Zilla on February 09, 2013, 10:59:20 AM
Who are you being a jerk to? Your family at home because you are trying to work at home and they are bothering you?  Just tell them you have a huge project and need to have strict privacy and not to bother you.  That isn't being a jerk.
If you think you are being a jerk to people at work because you are working at home instead of the office?  Unless the project is a team based one, I don't see why it's any of their business that you are working at home.  If they have a problem with it, have them kindly take it up with your boss.
 
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: sweetonsno on February 11, 2013, 04:30:14 AM
I work remotely as well. It's tough, tough, tough, and I don't even have a family to take care of! When I'm up against a hundred-odd small assignments to read or thirty-some papers to grade, the laundry becomes fascinating. I realize that I need to scrub out the oven, or the fridge, or both. I decide for some reason that it's a good time to go grocery shopping (again). In short, it's very difficult for me to get anything done with work when I am distracted by my home, and it's tough for me to get home things done when I need to work. (Grading becomes strangely appealing when I realize that I've dropped yet another spoon into the garbage disposal and need to fish it out before I can run it.)

For me, I really, really need to have a space that is for work only. That is the only way that I can really not drive myself nuts trying to balance things. Because I don't have an office set up, I'll usually run to the local library with my laptop. If you're able to take your work somewhere out of the house, that might be a good idea. It will make the line between "work time" and "home time" a lot clearer for you. If that isn't a possibility, then do whatever you can to make "work time" clear at home. Get into your work clothes. Set up your computer and your documents in a corner somewhere so you can't see the state of the house, kick any family members out of the room, and get to it. It might help to set a timer so you are scheduling breaks. Set the timer for half an hour to an hour. When it pings, take a few minutes. Get up, make a cup of tea, pet the cat, make sure the kids aren't dyeing the dog purple, etc. When your break is up, go back to work.

It's a real challenge for some people (I'm one of them). Sometimes, I like the flexibility, but other times, I really wish my home was my sanctuary and a place for relaxation. Being in a space that is devoted to conflicting responsibilities is very challenging for me.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: oceanus on February 11, 2013, 10:04:02 AM
???
OP, I see nothing wrong with your sentence structure.  I don't know what your etiquette question is.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: siamesecat2965 on February 11, 2013, 10:10:09 AM
I work remotely as well. It's tough, tough, tough, and I don't even have a family to take care of! When I'm up against a hundred-odd small assignments to read or thirty-some papers to grade, the laundry becomes fascinating. I realize that I need to scrub out the oven, or the fridge, or both. I decide for some reason that it's a good time to go grocery shopping (again). In short, it's very difficult for me to get anything done with work when I am distracted by my home, and it's tough for me to get home things done when I need to work. (Grading becomes strangely appealing when I realize that I've dropped yet another spoon into the garbage disposal and need to fish it out before I can run it.)

For me, I really, really need to have a space that is for work only. That is the only way that I can really not drive myself nuts trying to balance things. Because I don't have an office set up, I'll usually run to the local library with my laptop. If you're able to take your work somewhere out of the house, that might be a good idea. It will make the line between "work time" and "home time" a lot clearer for you. If that isn't a possibility, then do whatever you can to make "work time" clear at home. Get into your work clothes. Set up your computer and your documents in a corner somewhere so you can't see the state of the house, kick any family members out of the room, and get to it. It might help to set a timer so you are scheduling breaks. Set the timer for half an hour to an hour. When it pings, take a few minutes. Get up, make a cup of tea, pet the cat, make sure the kids aren't dyeing the dog purple, etc. When your break is up, go back to work.

It's a real challenge for some people (I'm one of them). Sometimes, I like the flexibility, but other times, I really wish my home was my sanctuary and a place for relaxation. Being in a space that is devoted to conflicting responsibilities is very challenging for me.

Iím the same way. Everyone in my group works from home on day a week, except for me. That being said, I do have the flexibility to work from home whenever the weather is bad, or I have something going on I need to be right after work, that may be closer to home, and so on.

I hate it though. Our network has some quirks and some of my applications display so small on my screen its very difficult for me to see, and they canít be changed.  I much prefer my larger monitor and desktop in the office. I tend to get less done when I work from home, since a lot of the time, there are things I can do, and some I canít, so Iím not always as productive as I should be.

But itís a trade off; I donít have to schlep in when the weather is bad, so thatís nice.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: Mikayla on February 11, 2013, 12:41:15 PM
Your issue is about setting boundaries in both places?  The home one I've seen first hand, because my bro and SIL are both realtors and they work out of home.  They also have a non-ending parade of friends and relatives either staying with them or dropping by. 

They actually got one of those clocks stores use that say "be back at 2 PM" or whatever, and when it's on that setting, people know not to interrupt.  And they did have a learning curve in enforcing it.

I'm not sure about work.  If you have set hours and people contact you outside those hours, then can you use Outlook calendar or whatever to let them know when you're available?

I do know that when I did this, I had to draw a pretty strict line between the two.  It didn't work at all if I was trying to do work and help my neighbor with something.  It was a mindset thing.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: mandycorn on February 11, 2013, 03:11:24 PM
I work with a lot of folks who work remotely. Some of them are really good at it and some of them really stink. Here are my tips based on working with the stinkers (which I'm sure you won't be, so all "you"s are general):

If you're on a lot of phone calls, make sure you have a good signal, so you aren't fading in and out. Talk to somebody you're friendly with in the office to establish how being on your cell or home phone changes your volume. I have one co-worker whose home phone is so loud that i have to crank my volume all the way down just to talk to him, but when he's in the office, i have to turn it way up. If you know that about your own phone, you can warn people and/or take steps to address it, like getting hands free set or something.

Along with that, use your mute button whenever possible. If there's a lot of neighborhood noise or pet noise or anything like that, mute so nobody else has to wonder if there's a dog in the office (or be sad because there's no ice cream truck).

Make sure you check your emails frequently; our email system is less than ideal outside of the office, so most people working from home go hours and hours without checking it (it'll log you out without warning, so they don't realize or forget they aren't connected), which is extra irritating if i have a somewhat time sensitive question that I need an answer to.

Make sure everyone at your office has your home/cell contact information. Doesn't matter which you give them, just make sure they have an easy way to reach you.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: hobish on February 11, 2013, 03:42:39 PM
What are you having a problem with? Are you tempted to watch TV/ answer personal phone calls?  Or is your spouse/ kids interrupting and you are looking for etiquette approved ways to tell them to stay away from you during working hours?  Are you looking for polite ways to tell your boss not to call you after hours/ at weekends/ how to tell him you are overwhelmed?

LOL, All of the above? I didnít ask very well. I get into a panic just thinking about it. As of a few weeks ago my fiancť Gish works for the same company, and now that the big computer at home is fixed I can work from home outside of office hours. My worlds are colliding.
I guess it is only partly an etiquette issue, as far as how to make it clear with people; and partially just advice on keeping the worlds separate. I donít want to be at home on the weekend feeling like I ought to be working instead of playing Pokťmon, and I donít want to neglect my fledgling new project while my coworkers are scrambling to cover my normal work. One of them is already pretty mad at me; but I have pretty much decided she plain does not like me Ė and if I were her, honestly, I wouldnít like me, either Ė and that is just going to have to be what it is, for lack of a better way to put that.
I think when I wrote the original post I was still at a stage in it where I was really going crazy. Iíve got a little support now, and my boss seems to finally understand that it is a huge amount of work Ö I hope. It still makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.

Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: EMuir on February 11, 2013, 03:56:12 PM
Set hours and stick to them.  Make sure you take breaks though, just like you would at work.  I know it can be tough. *hugs*
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: DavidH on February 11, 2013, 04:27:17 PM
One thing is that you keep regular hours that overlap with people in the office. So even if you want to be nocturnal, if teleconferences are important, you would want to keep some regular office hours.  If you can get a separate phone line or cell phone for work that can help since that becomes the office phone and you shouldn't feel obligated to answer after normal working hours.  Just as you wouldn't go into the office on the weekend to see if the phone was ringing.

The flip side, is being available on the phone or email during working hours just as you would be at the office.  It's fine to take breaks, along the lines of those that you'd take at the office.

For your family and friends, don't answer the phone, don't get roped into running errands while you are at work.  If they call, let it go to voicemail and actively discourage them from stopping by unannounced while you are working.  If they do, it is fine not to answer the door.  Remember, a ringing phone or doorbell is not a summons that you must answer.  If you were in the office and they called or stopped by, then they wouldn't find you at home either.

For email, set expectations, for example, you work 8 to 4, so emails after 4 are likely to be answered the next day.  This doesn't mean you can't check them, but make sure others know not to count on you seeing them after working hours.

Another is to minimize distractions while interacting with others in the office.  This means that if you have a barking dog or screaming child at home, it is key to find a place free from background noise when talking to people from work. 

Having an office space may help to keep you sane.  It can be a separate room, a desk, your laptop, whatever works for you. 

Finally, it's fine to do somethings while at home that don't compete with work.  For example, putting in the laundry before going to work and moving it to the dryer on your break is fine, but scrubbing the floor, not so much.   
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: Rhindle on February 12, 2013, 09:50:24 PM
Hobish, are you exempt? If not, are you approved for the overtime to do weekend work? If so, maybe you could use the 10/20 or 15/45 tactic. The larger number is the number of minutes you spend on work. The smaller, the minutes you spend doing something enjoyable or stress-alleviating. Plus what DavidH said, nothing wrong with starting off the laundry or dishwasher before beginning your next project to-do. Maybe one weekend of this would be enough to get you into the swing of it. I don't advocate giving up weekend after weekend, but I've been in a situation where one weekend alone in the office was well-spent. Good luck with the project.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: CakeEater on February 12, 2013, 11:58:20 PM
Oh gosh, I would be terrible at working from home. I am such a procrastinator and so easily distracted. Even if I had the option, I would never do it.

The only thing that worked for me was the tactic described above - spending a certain amount of time doing work, then having time off. Except the time off would just be tainted by the knowledge that I still had work waiting for me.

In conclusion, I have no good advice. Sorry.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: VorFemme on February 13, 2013, 08:08:21 AM
When the night shift guy on the internet desk retired between one day and the next, I was set up with the program & passcode generating card to work from home - until such time as they got someone else trained or combined my office with another office that would have someone already trained on the evening shift to take over his duties.

I would sign on, work what was waiting in the inbox, call the office if I needed to give someone a warning to deal with the particulars quickly (once in a while), and then check the inbox again.  If there was something new to deal with, I kept working until there was nothing waiting in the inbox.

If the inbox was empty, I would mark down the time I'd worked, sign off, do housework, and then sign back on about two hours later (the goal was not to make anyone wait longer than three hours).  I also signed off about thirty minutes before bedtime, even if something was waiting, because I had to get my kids to sleep and go to bed so that I could go to work again the next day.

It came in handy when there were medical appointments or someone was sick, I would arrange with my supervisor to work from home instead of spending an hour driving back & forth.....I couldn't do it every day - I didn't have access to all the equipment needed. 
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: bopper on February 13, 2013, 02:35:38 PM
I worked from home for 2 years from Germany.

I worked in another room that was not in the kitchen/family room.

I found I had to protect my time...people want you to drive them /do something /etc  so i would only do stuff with my kids outside of the house during working hours very rarely (mine were old enough they didn't need supervision).

People will call you and say "sorry to bother you" and I would say "You are not bothering me, this is my job."

I found that the mental hurdle for others to call me is larger when I was working at home rather than when I was in the office.   So it is up to you to see what is going on.

You have less opportunities to network/socialize/make connections...so you need to call people more proactively to see what is going on.

If you can, keep your old work phone number and forward it home so for everyone it is no different to contact you.

Let people know when you won't be available.

If you do have to run an errand, have your email on your smart phone so you can respond quickly.

Make sure to stop working at night.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: Virg on February 13, 2013, 03:43:37 PM
EMuir has one of the best ideas for separating work and home, and Sophia has the other.  Set aside a specific place for work, and when you're there and doing it, ask everyone around you not to disturb you.  Refuse to be disturbed if they try to cut in.  Then, choose the time you'll be working, figuring in time for meals, breaks and anything home-related that you want to add in, and simply work in that time.  If you set up a schedule and a place, you won't be as likely to allow yourself to drift into house stuff, and when you're done working (per your schedule) you won't feel odd about stopping.

Virg
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: blarg314 on February 14, 2013, 09:37:58 PM

It sounds like your work from home is the kind of situation where you do a full day's work at the office, and then bring work home to finish up in the evening/on weekends, right?

That's a totally different situation than your ordinary work from home commuting. It's also very common in my field (academics) where you are evaluated on performance, not hours, and the amount you need to do to succeed is more than a 40 hour work week.

It's really easy in a situation like this for your work to take over your home life, too.  You're working,  and your SO/kids are getting brushed off with "Don't bother me" when they want to spend time with you. It's worse if you're doing something that requires mental concentration, rather than just physical stuff. If you're doing something low mental effort, you can respond to questions about home-work, or be interrupted by comments, rather than checking out from the evening activities completely.

If kids are an issue, one option is to work after the kids are in bed. So you get dinner and some relaxation with the kids, and the bed-time routine, and as soon as they are in bed, you pull out your work stuff.

Another option is to put a stated time limit on your work hours, particularly on the weekend. So you tell your family "I need to work from 1-4 pm, but after that we can do X", and then go off into your work corner, and when 4pm hits, you leave your work behind.

A third thing to try - schedule your high concentration work for the office, and lower concentration stuff that can be easily interrupted in the evening, so you're at least partially present for the family, mentally.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: hobish on February 14, 2013, 11:22:33 PM

It sounds like your work from home is the kind of situation where you do a full day's work at the office, and then bring work home to finish up in the evening/on weekends, right?

That's a totally different situation than your ordinary work from home commuting. It's also very common in my field (academics) where you are evaluated on performance, not hours, and the amount you need to do to succeed is more than a 40 hour work week.

 It's really easy in a situation like this for your work to take over your home life, too.  You're working,  and your SO/kids are getting brushed off with "Don't bother me" when they want to spend time with you. It's worse if you're doing something that requires mental concentration, rather than just physical stuff. If you're doing something low mental effort, you can respond to questions about home-work, or be interrupted by comments, rather than checking out from the evening activities completely.

If kids are an issue, one option is to work after the kids are in bed. So you get dinner and some relaxation with the kids, and the bed-time routine, and as soon as they are in bed, you pull out your work stuff.

Another option is to put a stated time limit on your work hours, particularly on the weekend. So you tell your family "I need to work from 1-4 pm, but after that we can do X", and then go off into your work corner, and when 4pm hits, you leave your work behind.

A third thing to try - schedule your high concentration work for the office, and lower concentration stuff that can be easily interrupted in the evening, so you're at least partially present for the family, mentally.

Bolding mine

Yes, that's the situation, pretty much. I'm not complaining. I just need some advice, and i thank y'all for it.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: JacklynHyde on February 16, 2013, 10:13:44 PM
Are you getting overtime or comp time for your work you take home?  I would recommend you log in to your work systems remotely, if possible.  At the very least, keep a spreadsheet of your time where you're working off the clock.  I've done a lot of work out of my scheduled hours (I have a home office full time) and do my best to log into my systems so HR can verify my work.
Title: Re: Is there an etiquette for working from home?
Post by: hobish on February 21, 2013, 09:27:22 PM
Are you getting overtime or comp time for your work you take home?
Yes, i get overtime pay. I refuse to work for free. That's not an issue at all.

Quote
I would recommend you log in to your work systems remotely, if possible.  At the very least, keep a spreadsheet of your time where you're working off the clock.  I've done a lot of work out of my scheduled hours (I have a home office full time) and do my best to log into my systems so HR can verify my work.

That is definitely something I will keep in mind. I can only do my work from home by logging into their systems remotely - mostly - and keeping track of time I spend doing what is a good idea all around.

Thanks.