Remote WorkThought Pieces

WFH: Establish Your Rules of Disengagement


If you are starting to work from home for the first time, you will find lots of advice about creating a proper workspace, but your success begins with creating the right headspace for yourself, your family, and your friends. If you are in a relationship and have a family, you need to start with negotiating your rules of disengagement. Even if you’re single and live alone, you may have to manage the expectations and set boundaries for your, significant other, your parents, and your friends.

Be Proactive with Friends and Family

When you work from home, your significant other is likely to assume that because you’re home you are readily interruptible and available to run errands at the drop of a hat. Your mom may suddenly start calling you with unbridled frequency and some of your friends will expect you to be available for lunch, the gym, or other activities during your normal worktime. You can try to hide the fact that you’re working from home, but sooner or later people find out.

Manage Potential Distractors

Tackle these challenges head on by initiating conversations with everyone in your life who you believe could become a distraction. Inform each one of your work schedule and rules of disengagement. Let them know that you will be unable to respond them during specific work hours and that you will ignore them if they try to interrupt you. Explain that you need them to respect these boundaries and only contact you during work hours after dialing 911 if there is an actual emergency.

Separate Lines of Communication

If you need to communicate by telephone for work, get a separate line so that you can silence your cell phone or house phone. If your employer doesn’t provide you with a VOIP number, you can obtain one from Google, Skype, or other low-cost vendors. Most importantly, let your non-business lines go to voicemail during your regular business hours. Adopt a discipline of listening to VMs during your time off only.

Avoid Multitasking

Don’t try to baby-sit while you’re working or try to manage installations and service calls for your home. Make sure that your pets are on a schedule and routine that aligns with your working hours. Be hyper mindful of potential distractions in order to remain productive when you need to. Your rules of disengagement will allow you to disengage from work with confidence that you accomplished your work goals every work-from-home day.

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Gary Chefetz
Gary leads the enterprise sales team for all Think|3 products. He has more than twenty years’ experience in enterprise software solutions deployment and sales, and is the recipient of 18 Microsoft MVP Awards.

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