5 Ways to Make Working From Home Work for You

Global Workplace Analytics estimates over 3 million American workers telecommute at least part-time. The high-tech sector is no stranger to this trend. In fact, I’m part of that statistic. While there are some obvious benefits (Who misses rush hour traffic?), there are some challenges. Here’s how I make my home office work for me.

1. Make room and reduce clutter

Designate an area in your home for work-related duties only. Whether it’s an entire bedroom or a desk in the corner of your apartment – consider this area your own office. Remove distractions – like piles of laundry and unopened mail – and simplify your space. Check out this creative way to keep pesky cords out of sight. Consider cleaning up your virtual workspace too. De-cluttering your desktop and organizing folders will help you work more efficiently.

2. Get comfortable but not too much

Working from home allows you to get in your comfort zone, but make sure to rein it in sometimes. Get out of your pajamas and into some comfortable day clothes. Sit in an ergonomic chair and position your monitor and keyboard to promote good posture. Let in natural light whenever possible to brighten the room – and your mood.

3. Make a schedule and stick to it

One of the pitfalls of working from home is that you will end up working around the clock. Stop the madness! Make your own business hours, factoring in breaks, and don’t allow personal distractions to keep you from your tasks. Resist the temptation of checking work emails or making client calls outside of those hours. When you’re off the clock, you’re off the clock.

4. Take a break or two or three

Periodic breaks keep your mind fresh and actually make you more productive. Go out for lunch; pause for a cup of Joe; take a walk. Just be sure not to go over your allotted break time so that you can still remain on schedule.

5. Change it up when you need to

We’re creatures of habit, so a change of scenery from time to time may be what you need to get in gear. If you feel like you’re in a rut, get out of the house and work from your local coffee shop or library. Find an office space you can share with other telecommuters. Even just moving your home office furniture around can provide the inspiration you need to make it through the workweek.

Do you work remotely? Tell us how you make the most of your home office.

 

Where the Girls At? Not in IT

The numbers don’t lie. Jobs in technology are moving full steam ahead. In just a few years, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that there will be more than 1 million high-tech jobs in the market – but companies will only be able to fill about half of them. Why? Well, it may have to do with the (declining) numbers of women going into and staying in the field.

It’s true. IT has long been a male-dominated field. Even at its peak in the early 90s, women still only held 36 percent of all computing jobs in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And even those numbers have been on the decline ever since. Only about 17 percent of all computer science grads are women, according to the Department of Education. It’s not that women “don’t like” IT. In fact, according to a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, almost three quarters of women in technology reported “loving their work.” So, what’s the deal?

More than half of technical women leave their company when they reach the mid-level point. From wage gaps to assumed family responsibilities, a report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology outlines what keeps women in the shadows among their male peers. For the few that stick it out, the classic double standard is a barrier for many.

There are some silver linings. Universities such as Harvey Mudd, Stanford and Berkeley have seen an uptick in female computer science majors. Campaigns like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook’s Ban Bossy, are empowering girls to harness leadership skills from an early age. And more high-tech companies are embracing flexible work schedules, mentorship programs and advancement opportunities for women. Hopefully, these initiatives help reverse the trend so that more high-tech women enter and stay in the field.

Are you a woman working in the technology industry? Share your experience and weigh in on the discussion. Leave a comment below.