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20-40-60 Etiquette: Should I set work rules?

20-40-60 Etiquette panelists offer some tips for balancing work and home life when you work from home, with Linda Miller as guest.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman Modified: October 5, 2012 at 12:10 am •  Published: October 7, 2012
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QUESTION: My new job requires me to work from home. Is it possible to combine a private and professional life in that environment? Do I need to set personal rules for talking to my clients? Do I need to structure hours for taking calls? How do I politely let my contacts know that they need to call only at reasonable workday hours? Do I need a specific work area?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Yes, it is possible to keep your personal and private life separate. Tell your clients your work hours. However, keep in mind what your job is and how available you want to be. This is all up to what you want.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: If it's possible to structure the hours for calls, then that would be ideal. That way you're in control of your schedule and know when you can give your full attention to your clients. You can set appointments around your schedule and tell clients in emails when you are available. Make sure your hours are generous enough to handle your work. It all depends on your job and the expectations your clients or bosses have of you. And yes, a specific work area is best, even if it's a small corner of your house, so it feels like work when you are sitting there.

In various jobs through the years, I have enjoyed the privilege of working from home It can be difficult to juggle, but I always made sure to focus on my job during work time, which meant no laundry, no housework, etc. After having children, that juggle became more difficult, but in the past, I have hired a sitter to watch my kids while I worked from home. When they were little, I would kiss them goodbye, walk out the back door and then have the sitter distract them while I sneaked in the front door. That way, they wouldn't know I was home to interrupt me. Enjoy the time working from home. It takes some getting used to, but it's nice to be able to return phone calls in your pajamas.

HELEN'S ANSWER: It has been a great blessing to be able to work from home on a part-time basis, especially when I had young children. My hours have been the same and I set them early on in my career. The people who need to contact me know which days I work the most.

My office desk is in a spare bedroom and I can close the door if there are other activities in the house. I think a specific work area reminds you that your job at home is important and that your desk can be organized as to what works best for you.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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