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How to Work From Home Without Harming Your Health

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

As technology makes it feasible to work from just about anywhere, at anytime, the issue of telecommuting is getting more and more press. Last year, Marissa Mayer made headlines by requiring telecommuters to come in to the office, and this week Parade reported that a recent study "found that working from home enhances feelings of physical and mental fatigue in those who are having a hard time balancing their personal and professional lives."

Maybe Mayer was on to something . . . or maybe we just need to live by certain principles if we want to telecommute.

As an attorney, your presence in the office will usually be required, whether you're having a meeting with a client, working with other attorneys, or have a court appearance, so your option to telecommute will be more limited, than say, a graphic designer's. That said, when you do have the option to telecommute, it should not be a free-for-all. Follow these five tips to maintain some structure in your day.

1. Dress for the Job

While the allure of working in your sweat pants seems too much to resist -- avoid it. In fact, avoid anything with a drawstring and made of flannel or fleece. No, you don't need to wear a suit, but wear something with a button or a zipper. You'll feel more put together, and this will be reflected in your work product.

2. Have Office Hours

Just because you are working from home, doesn't mean that your schedule should be haphazard. The best way to stay focused is to keep regular hours, as you would in your office, and stick to your routines. For example, start off the day with your daily morning tasks, and end the day with your daily end-of-day tasks. Routines don't equate to rigidity, but to productivity.

3. Stay Connected

Understandably, your coworkers will need to get in touch with you (and want to makes sure you're actually working and not at the beach), so be sure to make yourself accessible. Let coworkers know how to reach you, stay logged on to your work email, and even stay connected on your firm-wide instant messaging system.

4. Set Expectations

If you have family members that are at home while you are working from home, make sure you manage their expectations. Just because you are home does not mean you can stop to help out with the dishes and laundry -- be clear that you are working, and won't be able to deal with "home stuff" until the end of your business hours.

5. Dedicated Work Space

If you have enough room for a home office, then use it (and take advantage of the tax deductions). If not, be sure to create a dedicated work space, i.e., not on the couch in front of the television. A table will do, so long as you have all of the office supplies and tools that you will need with you, and as an added bonus, try to make it ergonomic, if possible. As a last resort, you can go outside the home to work, though you'll want to be sure that you are on a secure connection since you are dealing with confidential information.

Working from home is just that -- working. Don't mistake it for personal time. If you're one of those people already struggling with work/life balance, then telecommuting may not be for you. Whether you are able to take that step will depend on your personality, and ability to focus.

How do you maintain work/life balance while working from home? Let us know on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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