Is it possible to work effectively from home and can you actually produce more work than if you attended an office?
It was a question I asked myself and my management team when I was considering asking people in my staffing agency to work from home, as I could not justify the ever-increasing office rents and costs coupled with a drop in operating margins.
The initial response was that we would lose the “drive” that only an office environment would produce and the motivation, but when you looked at the top-performing people in the office, it became quickly apparent, that most of their work was actually done outside the office.
I had actually experimented with a couple of superstar employees, by telling them that they could work from wherever they wanted as long as the results were there — and guess what?
It proved enormously successful.
So the conclusion was that if people were highly motivated and driven, it didn’t matter whether they were in the office or not.
I took it a little further by trying to recruit “back to work” mothers and I also got better results from those mothers working a few hours per day, than some of my full-time staff!
It all comes down to motivation.
In this short article, I am going to talk about my struggles with working from home early on in my career and give you 3 simple areas to focus on.
Working from home requires discipline
You know this one…but when I started my main staffing agency from my living room back in the early 1990s, I found it extremely hard to adjust from working in an office environment.
For me, the toughest part was the walk from my bedroom into the living room to get the day started and there were days that I never actually made it out of bed.
I am not ashamed to admit that because it was an extremely tough time for me and I had to break through a lot of personal barriers to get through them.
You can read more about my journey here.
In the 1990s there was no WiFi and the Internet was primitive, to say the least, so to do any meaningful work, I needed to get out of bed and walk to the living room where my computer and fax machine was set up.
Today, I still work from home, but I am far more disciplined and sometimes yes, I never leave my bedroom and simply because technology allows me to stay there.
My advice to anyone starting a business from home and especially if you are used to a routine of getting up and traveling to an office is to make sure you build a routine.
For me it meant getting out of bed as soon as the alarm went off and taking a cold shower — now if you have any medical conditions, please don’t do this without checking with your doctor and I have to say tell you this!
But…that woke me up, especially in the cold winter mornings and then it was straight to breakfast and then on the phone.
I was totally dependent on generating leads from phone calls and that meant also structuring my day.
I learned to go back to my old days of recruitment sales when I worked for an agency — we simply had to produce a plan every evening for what we would do the next day…and it worked like a dream.
Structure your day for productivity
Once I had solved the “getting out of bed” problem, it was a matter for making sure that the day was productive and with the luxury of cable television, I was once again facing distraction.
I had my daily plan, but…
I loved the old television series Dallas and once UK Gold television, had re-run the entire series, I had every reason to take the latest phone rejection that I had received from my cold-calling efforts and simply wallow in self-pity and watch the re-runs of my favorite television programs.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a fired-up entrepreneur or someone who simply has to work from home for logistical reasons, we all have the same emotions and it is easy to succumb to the wrong ones.
Hoving covered the “getting out of bed issue” and not really wanting another cold shower, I had to find a way for stopping that journey back to the living room and being seduced by the television.
And let me tell you that the seduction of that Sony television that was all the rage at the time, was so tempting!
I instead decided to make sure that every time I thought the television was going to take me off to paradise, I would call a friend in my industry and ask them how their day was going.
If they responded that it was going good, then I would now re-ignite the flame that was in my stomach and try to out-perform them.
If it was going bad, then I would simply tell myself that I was not going to let my day get any worse than theirs.
These people had the luxury of employment and I did not…but I knew that if I persevered, my rewards would be far greater and over time they were.
It was a matter of self-belief and hard work.
But you have to have a structure and then adhere to it completely…and with conviction.
Measure your home working productivity
At the end of the day, it is all about results and you need to keep track of what is going on.
It requires brutal honesty and self-awareness to be able to set goals, measure them and be totally honest with yourself as to whether you have achieved them or not.
I struggled massively with my attempt to start my business from home, but the conditions I worked form home in, were far different from now, from both a technology perspective and an “acceptance” one.
To succeed in business in my early days, you needed to show that you were serious and that meant having an office, nice business cards, brochures and all of the tools that are no longer essential today.
Nice, yes, but not essential.
One thing that I learned over time and this was thanks to the people who trained me early in my career, who instilled discipline in my life, plus my background in martial arts was that you absolutely have to measure your success and that means tracking your success.
When I was 7, I was taught classical piano and I had three teachers over the ten years I learned — they were all good, but the last one was exceptional.
She instilled into me the value of not just hard work and repeated practice, but to make sure you were practicing the right things and also measuring them.
My martial arts teachers over the years all taught me self discipline and the value of measuring and tracking your performance.
So there you have it — 3 simple, but vital tips to help you succeed from home.
Take a look at my article “How to start a home business in the UK: Top 10 home business ideas.”
And if you are not from this country and wish to start a business in the UK, then this article “How to start a business in the UK as a foreigner: Tips to start & build a company.”
You need to work extremely hard…that goes without saying, but more importantly, you have to have the right mindset.
Last modified: May 28, 2020