What Really Happens When You "Work From Home?"

Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder.com

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Americans really like the idea of working from the comfort of home... a lot. If you search the phrase "work from home" on Google, 1.8 billion search results appear and there are countless studies, books, chatrooms, message boards and blogs devoted to the subject. And why wouldn't anyone want a 30-second commute?

Thanks to social and economic trends, workers and employers are increasingly open to the working from home option. Technologies necessary for setting up a home office are widely available, relatively inexpensive and getting easier for people to use. And more workers are seeking flexible schedules to care for aging parents and children.

According to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey, nearly one-third of workers say they work from home on occasion. But how much time is actually spent working when someone brings the office home?

It's not a full eight hours. Twenty-five percent of respondents admit they spend less than one hour on their office work when working from home, 53 percent spend less than three hours and only 14 percent put in a full eight hours.

What are people focusing on instead of their professional duties?

  • Children -- 22 percent

  • Personal calls and surfing the Internet -- 17 percent

  • Vegging out: watching TV and/or sleeping -- 15 percent

  • Personal errands -- 11 percent

  • Housework -- 9 percent


Employers and employees are taking advantage of improvements in workplace technology, which allows workers the freedom to work from virtually anywhere, including their homes. While working from home may improve work/life balance, it can also create a challenge to stay motivated.

If you find that you fall victim to these distractions, here are some tips to make your workday more productive:

Keep to the same schedule
Start your day as if you were going into the office. Get up at the same time, change out of your pajamas and stick to your normal morning routine. Lounging around in bed will open the door to procrastination.

Location, location, location
Don't tempt yourself by working in front of the TV, near the radio or in the same room as people who may distract you. Pick a location that is quiet and structured, where you can complete your projects.

Plan out your day
Create a list of specific goals for the day and cross them off as you complete them. This will ensure that what you wanted to accomplish actually gets done.

Give yourself a lunch hour
Designate a certain time for personal calls, errands, housework, exercise and any other non-office-related activities. Consider setting a timer to let you know when it is time to return to your work.

Take a break
Taking some time to play with your children, eat a snack or walk the dog will not sink the ship. Just keep the breaks to a minimum.


Rosemary Haefner is the Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder.com. She is an expert in recruitment trends and tactics, job seeker behavior, workplace issues, employee attitudes and HR initiatives.

Last Updated: 24/09/2007 - 3:50 PM


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