by John Sullivan
Thousands of articles exist about how to set up your home office with a comfortable chair, adequate filing space and an upgraded internet connection. But your transition to a post-retirement gig contains some unseen things that existed in your job but require recognition and action for a successful work from home experience.
The supply closet is gone. Working at home means you need to have supplies stocked and available. The top three: paper, printer ink and batteries. Don’t run out of ink while printing a sales proposal and don’t have a call end because your batteries die. Keep a reasonable amount of each on hand to avoid emergencies and restock when you use the last of something.
No cleaning crew will come in at night to tidy up your office space. Arriving to a dusty office with a brimming wastebasket can be depressing. Make dusting, vacuuming and taking out the trash part of your Friday closing routine to ensure you return to a clean office on Monday. Bonus: scheduling those items on your calendar will ensure they get done and will help define the end of your workweek.
Break Room Duty
Keeping your office clean is one thing. Keeping your kitchen clean is another. If you live with other people, don’t leave a mess. Wash the lunch dishes or at the least get them off the table and into the dishwasher. And if you are one of the 64% of Americans who drink coffee daily, clean the coffee machine weekly. Single cup and traditional brew machines get messy and over time can make your coffee taste bitter if not cleaned regularly.
Remember working through lunch in the office? The same thing can happen when working from home – except there is no vending machine to bail you out. Best to always have something on hand for those times you can’t get away. Add a few items to your grocery list that fit your diet and if needed, mark them “off limits” from others.
Know your limits and when you need tech help, get it. It is unprofessional to call friends for assistance. Instead, enlist help from those most connected to technology: kids. Seek out teenagers, college students and even your own children or grandchildren to address your problem. Offer to pay them or buy their lunch. If the issue exceeds their abilities, get a few referrals for tech help and schedule an appointment.
Working at home means no distracting coworkers but it can also mean isolation as the spontaneous contact with colleagues Is gone. You need to stay in touch with former co-workers to maintain friendships and to find new business. Don’t limit yourself to the most recent job – initiate contact to people from earlier in your career as well. They know your skills and character traits and can help expand your network of potential customers.
Addressing these hidden aspects of working from home will make your retirement gig more productive and effective. You won’t find yourself in a dirty office with no supplies and isolated from everyone because you addressed these unseen items.
Now, from your clean, well-stocked office, get in touch with your contacts and discover their unseen items within your realm of expertise. Sell them your products and services. Then return to your home office and start working for them.
John Sullivan has over 30 years as a project manager and has published business and career issues in a number of magazines and websites, the Wall Street Journal’s Careers.com website. He lives in Dayton, Ohio.