The Inevitable Distractions Of Working Virtually From Home

by | March 3, 2015

The perks of working virtually are certainly plentiful – you get to work wherever you like, you get to work in PJs, and you don’t have that painful daily commute. Unfortunately, working virtually from home has its own set of unique obstacles to deal with that will distract you and cause unnecessary additional stress if you don’t address them appropriately. The good news is that at least you get to deal with them in your PJs while enjoying the comfort of your own home!

Barking Dogs

Have you ever wondered what your dog does all day while you’re away? Well as soon as you begin to work from home, you will quickly learn that they do one of two things: either they are sleeping or they are making noise. And nothing says professionalism like having to talk loudly over the sound of your dog barking in the background.

The Humane Society has a list of ways to help stop your dog from barking, but if training doesn’t seem to get through to your dog for whatever reason, here are a few tips on how to minimize this distraction:

  1. Before a scheduled meeting with a client, take your dog for a walk to tire him or her out. A sleeping dog is a quiet dog!
  2. If you need to concentrate on a task, wear a pair of noise cancelling earphones to help drown out the sound.
  3. If you only need a short period of absolute silence, close your dog into a separate room or their crate.

Finally, remember that your dog is still your best friend even when they are driving you nuts – so take a minute here and there to stop and give your dog some love and attention.

Knocks At The Door

Depending on where you live, you may or may not be subject to constant visits from people going door to door trying to sell you something. If you do live in an area that receives frequent visits from salespeople or people trying to convince you to vote a certain way, you may find yourself being constantly distracted from your work. The best way to handle this distraction is to either get good at telling people to go away as nicely and as quickly as possible or just get a sign for your door. Amazon has several options depending on who you do and don’t want at your door. For example, they have a great option for letting everyone know that they need to stay away unless they have thin mints with them. It may not be the most attractive option for the front of your house, but it will keep you focused and productive.

Technical Difficulties

When you work in an office, you typically have a whole department dedicated to keeping you up and running. Or if the issue is unavoidable – for example, a snow storm is going to be knocking out all of your power – everyone has the same issue and no one is expected to be working. If you work remotely from home, this isn’t going to be the case and you’ll need to know how to address technical difficulties before they arise.

If you work for a company from home, the first step in preparing for inevitable technical difficulties is to check if they have a policy in place already. You should know who you need to notify and how before it ever becomes an issue.

After your company is aware that you are temporarily out of commission, or if you work for yourself, then you need to address the problem. Have important numbers like the power company’s or your internet service provider’s on hand. You won’t be able to rely on Google giving you that information if your power or internet goes out!

Once you have the ball rolling on getting the problem addressed, it’s good to know what your options are for getting work done while you wait for the problem to be fixed. Map out the nearest locations with free Wi-Fi so that you know where you can go in a pinch. Assuming bad weather isn’t the root of the issue, going to a nearby coffee shop is a great option for minimizing this distraction from your work.

Friends And Family

Until working from home is the norm rather than the exception, which it is liable to be in the very near future, you will inevitably have friends or family who assume you aren’t really working or that you can go out any time you want.

The best thing to do to address the distraction of people calling you up constantly thinking that you have all the time in the world is to set clear boundaries and educate them about what it is you do. Let people know your typical working hours and don’t answer the phone when they call you anyways. They will eventually learn that if they are calling you during your normal working hours, it had better be important! And you will also eventually get used to the ‘yeah right’ looks from friends and family when you tell them that you are working and cannot go shopping with them. All in all, it’s a small price to pay for the far better and far more numerous benefits of working from home!