Maintain a Professional Image While Working From Home

Working from home can be your biggest challenge and at times your greatest joy, the important part about calling it ‘your office’ is how to stay professional at all times

I think it would be fair to say that all trade business owners have claimed ‘home’ as their primary base when they first started out. Many have continued to do so although their business has grown considerably, while others have chosen to move locations to an office/warehouse for a multitude of reasons. What ever works best for you – from location, cost, mindset to name a few – if you call ‘home’ your ‘office’ then you might be like many other solo-preneurs that struggle keeping time in the office ‘professional’.

Understanding the internal struggle at times, here are a few guidelines to help maintain a professional image while working at home. Hopefully they’ll work for you…

Get out of your pajamas and into your work wear. It is often said that ‘sloth clothes’ equal a ‘sloth mentality’, so perhaps even a tracksuit is considered out of bounds…  The effort it takes to change your clothes could provide a huge return if  your mindset switches with it.

Stick to a schedule. True, working from home allows you to set your own schedule and gives you the flexibility to prepare dinner early, take care of children, or otherwise tend to your personal life. But if you’ve allocated ‘times’ to work on the business, then do it!

For tradies, your customers need to be able to reach you at all times, so a late night watching movies does not allow a sleep in till noon. You can’t jeopardise your professional reputation. For the adminstrative tasks that do not require direct contact with customers, you may decide you work best after dinner and set a weekly time-slot of Tuesday nights between 7-9pm.

That said, depending on the nature of your business and when you work best, once you get into a schedule, try to stick to it. This is all about self-discipline and getting the work done.

Discuss and agree your schedule with your partner. If your schedule consumes some of the ‘us time’, make sure your partner is in agreeance. They need to know that your plan is to work every Tuesday night so that perhaps that’s the perfect night for them to hang out with their friends. Better still, it’s their night to listen to an audio, read an article, conduct some research all for the better of the business!

Manage your incoming phone calls. If you use your mobile phone for business and personal calls, remember to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers in a professional manner. Resist the urge to answer after consuming a few too many drinks or if you’re in a noisy location. Better to have a professional message on the phone than for the caller to hear you struggle to chat to them… terrible first impressions. If you can, walk away to answer calls in a quieter location to ‘focus’ on the caller.

Set up a separate workspace. If you don’t have a spare room and you’ve been working from the kitchen table for years, perhaps it’s time to convert a corner of your living room or closet. A devoted work space will not only help you ‘flick the switch’on the business mindset, you’ll save hours now that you are organised and you can finally separate work/life. Sitting at your desk is ‘work time’ and the couch or the kitchen bench is now time to ‘relax’.

Get out of the house when you have to. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like a professional when you’re surrounded by laundry that needs to be folded or last nights dishes stacked on the kitchen sink. In those cases, it makes sense to work somewhere else, at least part of the time. It’s also smart to have a place outside of your home for business meetings with external people, even if that is the local coffee shop. An option is always coworking spaces which often let you rent conference space by the hour or the day.

The bottom line? Maintain a professional mindset and create some separation (physically and mentally) between your business and your personal life.

What’s next?

  1. Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
  2. Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.