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For those lawyers that work from home, and must share their home with a spouse, significant other, children, roommates, or even four-legged friends, laying down some house rules for when you're lawyering from home is advisable.
Consider rules like: Residents shall not scream during business hours. Or: All dogs must remain outside during telephonic court appearances. These just seem reasonable.
Below, you can get a few tips on how to craft your own house rules to make sure your working from home doesn't reflect poorly on you as a lawyer.
If you have a home office with a door that closes and locks, you're likely not afflicted with the same problems that lawyers with limited square footage suffer from. And while you might be able to keep your focus while others are getting snacks or perhaps even quietly sitting next to you, or in the same room, when you get a phone call, it's less about you, and more about the caller.
So when that phone rings, answer and quickly tell your caller to hold on a minute while you "switch gears," which is code for putting them on mute while you walk to a room with a door that can close and tell everyone in the house to shut up.
If you have a regular habit of working from home, making some convenient signs that you can hang on doors, or in obvious places, can really help. For example, if you're on a call and don't want your doorbell rung, leave a sign on the door, or over the doorbell, that reads: "DO NOT RING DOORBELL." You can add other instructions, if you please, such as asking people to text you or other residents, or to come back between specific times. Chalkboards work great for this purpose. If you have a home office door, you can hang one of those "We will return at" clock signs, so your family or roomies know when to not even knock.
Don't shy away from having stone tablets made up that you can hang in your home to proclaim what the house rules are. This will help if you have roommates, or children, who seem to consistently forget that you are actually working.
But, lastly, before you do make house rules for working from home, try to seek out the input of those you live with to make sure that the rules will be followed.
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