Working From Home Checklist

Empower work-from-home employees to be safe and efficient using digital checklists

What is a Working From Home Checklist?

A working from home checklist is a tool primarily used by employers to assess the safety of a home office, and determine the suitability for employees to work from home. Work-from-home, or WFH employees use a working from home checklist to personally evaluate their work environment, identify areas of improvement, and implement efficient work practices.

Why Use Working From Home Checklists?

The search term “working from home” hit a record high on March 17, 2020—when employees around the world were either encouraged or forced to work from home to help contain the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. Utilizing working from home checklists is crucial for employers to fulfill their responsibilities despite the situation and for employees to keep themselves and their homes safe.

Work from Home Advantages and Disadvantages

Work from home is the concept and practice of accomplishing tasks to earn income from one’s private residence. As a policy, top companies allow their employees to temporarily or permanently work from home under certain conditions. As an opportunity, different types of work and businesses can be done and managed from home. Working from home poses various pros and cons, but when the need or option arises, it is crucial to know how to work from home effectively.

The concept of working from home already existed before the industrial revolution, and it is not just a growing trend in the past couple of decades. As managing the home also meant managing resources, a work-home environment seems practical and cost-efficient for most families and communities.

However, the benefits of working from home come with some drawbacks, and understanding both of the advantages and disadvantages can help people to decide if working from home is the right work style for them.

Time

According to an annual survey conducted since 2013, work-life balance continues to be the top reason people seek flexible work or being able to work from home and have control over their schedule. Take a look at these advantages and disadvantages of working from home in terms of time management:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Set your own work hours Tendency to overwork
More time for yourself and your family More prone to procrastination
No need to commute Difficulty sticking to a routine

Income

Last year, annual remote work research showed that those who work from home are twice more likely to earn salaries higher than $100,000 a year than on-site workers. The possibility of making more money while staying at home attracts a growing number of people, but consider the following financial advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Same or more pay than an in-office counterpart Potential ebb and flow nature of income
No planned or unexpected eat-out expenses, commute fares, and parking fees Increased groceries, food deliveries, and home utility bills
Tax breaks for freelancers and self-employed Miss out on corporate office perks e.g. company-issued car or phone

Workspace

A global workspace study recently found out that 54% of people think having a choice of work location is more important than working for a prestigious company and having an increase in holiday allowance. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of work from home when it comes to the workspace:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Freedom to work in any location Struggle to set home-work boundaries
Environment-friendly, personalized workstations Inadequate or unreliable office equipment and data security issues
More comfortable working conditions, including attire Personal privacy and ergonomic problems

Workflow

Global respondents of The Workplace Revolution confirm that working from home puts productivity at risk45% find it hard to concentrate. The report also revealed that 77% of millennials claim that flexible work would make them more productive. Is working from home good or bad in getting the job done? Here are the advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Fewer interruptions from colleagues Distractions from family, pets, and chores
Working independently and under minimal supervision Risk of unrecognized efforts and mediocre performance or poor quality of work
Less frequent and more efficient meetings Delayed access to or approval for tools, documents, and other requests

Relationships

Based on another annual remote work survey in 2019, the biggest struggle with working from home is unplugging after work, or disconnecting from work-related matters and relax. Social isolation is also associated with sleeping problems, depression, and early mortality. Think about the following relational advantages and disadvantages when working from home:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Working while taking care of parents, children, or pets Challenging to collaborate with and get feedback from peers
Minimal office politics and drama Higher likelihood for miscommunication and misunderstanding
Remotely maintain built relationships within the company or among clients Prone to boredom, lack of motivation, and feelings of isolation or loneliness

Common Working From Home Risks and How to Mitigate Them

OSHA specifies that injuries or illnesses incurred while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation at home are work-related cases and recordable on the OSHA 300 log if it meets recording criteria such as a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional, even if it does not result in death, or loss of consciousness among others. Here are common safety and health risks when working from home, so once they are identified, action can be taken to minimize them:

Common Working From Home Risks

Work from Home Safety Risks and Controls

  • Workstation and Work Equipment – Typical work-from-home equipment such as printers and shredding machines should be used correctly and the display screens of desktop computers or laptops, keyboards, and mouses should be in good condition to avoid unnecessary work-related accidents.
    Poor lighting and lack of temperature control can also affect the quality of work and overall productivity, so make sure that employees’ home workspace is adequately lit and ventilated.
  • Fire and Electrical Safety – The most common fire hazards at home offices include electrical equipment, faulty wiring, and flammable materials. Regularly disposing of waste, including papers, and switching off equipment when not in use can help prevent the risk of fires.
    Additional security measures such as working in a lockable room can be implemented to reduce safety risks to other people at home, especially young children. Emergency procedures should also be in place, like identifying an assembly point outside the home, in case of any unexpected incident while working from home.
  • Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards – Carpets or throw rugs, clutter, and uneven flooring or stair steps are common causes of slips, trips, and falls when working from home. Secure floor coverings, keep essential items within easy reach, and clear walkways and corridors by upholding standards of good housekeeping even at home offices.
  • Manual Handling and Ergonomics – Repetitive movements and sustained awkward posture and body positioning can result in fatigue and lead to back, neck, and shoulder injuries. When a load has to be manually handled, it should be held or manipulated as close to the body as possible.
    Home office desks and chairs should be ergonomically designed to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal problems and potentially restrict employees’ ability to undertake a wide range of work activities.
  • Work-related Stress – Since work-from-home employees are likely to work longer hours because they have no set schedule, sticking to a daily routine that includes short breaks and clearly defined lunch and end-of-shift times can help reduce work-related stress.
    Process documentation, especially when changes are being made at a rapid rate, and over-communication can also help clarify work expectations, avoid misunderstandings, and lessen frustrations.
  • Mental Health – Feelings of isolation can negatively impact the performance of employees who are working from home. Research has shown that social isolation is associated with depression and sleeping problems and with an increased risk for early mortality.
    Practicing appropriate self-care, connecting with colleagues via virtual meetings, and talking about non-work-related matters using other online communication platforms are essential when working from home.

Working from Home Tips

If you believe that you have what it takes to be self-employed, then venture into the world of freelance or business. You can be your own boss, working anywhere and anytime you want, but these privileges also come with the risk of volatility and idleness. Take advantage of free work from home apps to increase productivity, and practice the following tips to help you become successful as a freelancer or home business owner:

Freelancers Working from Home Tips for Success

  • Self-motivate, do not procrastinate
    Delaying to do the job does not actually make it go away, but only prolonging the time it usually takes to complete it. Refrain from making yourself believe that you will accomplish more when you multitask. Focus your energy on working on one project at a time, and you will have more time to take on more projects.
  • Runaway from the email rabbit hole
    Casually scrolling through emails can lead to spending too much time on unimportant or non-urgent matters. It might take a lot of effort to clean up your inbox or unsubscribe to spammy emails, but it will be worth your while to be successful working from home freelancer in the long run.
  • Assert and increase project-based rates
    Work from home freelancers can earn more by naming their price for every project, not for every hour to be spent on achieving it. Clearly specifying the quality of work to be poured into the project can encourage your clients to pay more rather than settling for a standard hourly rate.
  • Take a break, deep breaths, and long walks
    Practicing the Pomodoro technique, or segmenting your work hours into chunks with short breaks in between, can help improve your productivity, and learn to destress when things seem to spiral out of control such as expediting deadlines, adding workload, or changing details.
  • Develop your skillset, grow in your niche
    While choosing and targeting the right niche for your experience or expertise can make or break your work-from-home freelance career, improving your skills can elevate you to success. Upskilling allows you to earn more per project, ask more from existing clients, and reach more potential clients.

Business Owners Working from Home Tips for Success

  • Plan, but just do it
    Many home-based business wannabes usually have good ideas and some do their research, but only a few make it happen. To be a successful home business owner, one should make plans, but more importantly, have the courage to execute those plans against all odds.
  • Get the fundamentals right
    Know about the legal requirements for setting up a home-based business such as tax or zoning laws. Consult with your accountant as you might actually qualify for certain tax deductions. You can also outsource administrative services to allocate more of your time for other more important matters.
  • Sustainability over profitability
    You probably wanted to manage your own business with the hope of making more money, but it is better to focus on long-term goals, than short-term gains. With sustainability in mind, you can make wiser business decisions and protect yourself from falling for the false promise of shortcuts.
  • Master the social component
    Expanding your network and marketing your product or service, especially online, are crucial elements of successful home-based business management. Upsell and cross-sell to your current clients, having built strong relationships with them. Gaining social proof for your business means spreading credible word-of-mouth recommendations for free.
  • Experiment, fail, and improve
    If being a home business owner was easy, then everyone would have done it. Perseverance is key to success, so don’t be afraid to try new things like implementing new processes or changing marketing tactics. You can always learn from failures and improve yourself, the way you work, and your business.

How to Work from Home

With the different types of work that can be done from home, you probably want to try pursuing a part-time or full-time home-based career and know exactly what steps to take to be productive in this work style. After remote teams assess and control safety and health risks in their respective home offices, here is how they can function more effectively when working from home:

How Employees Can Work from Home Effectively

  • Build self-discipline
    Setting a dedicated workspace can help you avoid distractions such as social media, TV, or chores, and sticking to your routine as if you still went to an office building like getting up early, taking a shower, and changing your clothes, can help establish boundaries between your place and time for work and for yourself.
  • Be proactive
    Planning ahead allows you to foresee any changes or unnecessary downtime so you can respond accordingly, making the most out of your time. Since you might feel guilty for being unproductive as a side effect of having more time spent at home, you can choose to go the extra mile and initiate to do more.
  • Boost communication
    Clarifying work-related tasks lets you set your and your manager’s expectations about exactly what should be done during this period of working from home. Collaborate more often with your teammates to prevent avoidable misunderstanding and stay connected with actual human beings other than your family.

How Managers Can Work from Home Effectively

  • Managing a Team Member: structured daily check-ins and focus on goals, not activity. Think, “How are you doing?” instead of, “What are you doing?”.
  • Managing a Team: over-communicate and practice rules of engagement e.g. expected frequency, means, and ideal timing of communication.
  • Facilitating Virtual Meetings: keep the dialogue flowing and make decisions together; a meeting is not a monologue nor a presentation you can simply send via email.
  • Facilitating Ad-hoc Communication: offer emotional support and opportunities for social interaction e.g. Friday happy hour, online board games, and virtual workouts.

The concept and practice of work from home are not new. Working from home is no longer viewed as a company benefit, but a legitimate style of work with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Whether you choose to work as a remote employee, a work-from-home freelancer, or a home business owner, knowing the way that works for you is key to success.

Jona Tarlengco
Article by
Jona Tarlengco
Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.

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