This is a guest post, by Patrick Del Rosario. Patrick is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s pioneer and leading providers of Business management courses and Human resources courses. When not working, Patrick enjoys blogging about career and business. Patrick is also a photography enthusiast and is currently running a photography studio in the Philippines. This article presents some practical tips on how you can make the shift from working to your office towards working in your home. Check it out!

Making the shift is not easy! Working from home has a number of great benefits, including the ability to work from anywhere you choose and set your own work hours, design and decorate your own workspace, make more time for family or friends and wear whatever you want every single day.

Of course, there are downsides to working from home as well, such as more distractions, less opportunity to socialize throughout the day, a lack of structure and the difficulty of separating your work from your private life, not to mention that paid vacations will be a thing of the past.

If you are thinking of making the shift from the traditional office environment to working from your own home office, it is important to consider both the pros and the cons.

Working from home may not be for everyone. Some people just need more structure in order to be productive, while others find it difficult to draw a line between work and home life without physically leaving the house.

On the other hand, many people find that they are far more productive when working from home and a recent survey found that there are currently around 2.5 million home workers in the US, so it is certainly not an unrealistic goal to reach for.

Following are a few points to consider before you take the plunge and ditch your cubicle for the comfort of your home.

Do You Work Well Without Supervision?

This is an important point to consider, although you may not even know the answer until after you have attempted working from home.

If you enjoy what you do and you are motivated enough to get the work done without any supervision or set working hours then it can work. On the other hand, if you hate your work and already have a difficult time getting it done when in the office, chances are being at home is only going to make it worse.

Being self-employed or even just having more flexibility in your routine requires a good deal of discipline. If you can’t manage your time well when you are at work with a supervisor looking over your shoulder, then there’s a good chance that working from home will only make the problem worse.

What Is Your Home Situation Like?

If you want to work from home, you will need to have space or area that is strictly reserved for your work and is free of distractions.

If your home is crowded and there is little space, it will be difficult for you to concentrate on your work. You won’t get much work done if you have to sit on your bed or the living room sofa while family members or house mates watch television or chat in the background.

Making sure that your family members and friends are onboard with your decision to work from home is also important, as your decision will affect everyone to some degree.

It gets even more complicated if you have young kids, as they may find it difficult to understand the difference between your working hours. Think about how you are going to deal with these challenges, whether it means hiring a nanny or transforming an unused space like the garage into your home office.

Are Your Goals Realistic?

As difficult as it may be, you have to look at things realistically and see if your goals are actually realistic. How many hours will you have to work at home in order to make the same salary you are making at your current job? Will you be able to get enough work to make ends meet? Do you have a plan for retirement? What about benefits and insurance?

If you have thought about these things and decided that the benefits outweigh the risks, here are a few tips to help make your transition a bit easier.

  • Get dressed. It can be tempting to head to your desk with your pajamas on and your hair unkempt and messy, but dressing for work in the morning helps you to get in the right frame of mind.
  • Schedule your work hours in advance. Don’t start the day without any plan for how you are going to get everything done. Make a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. You can still decide when you will work, whether in the morning or evening, but just make sure that you delegate enough time to get things done.
  • Make sure your family and friends understand. Let your kids, spouse, friends or housemates know that while you are working, you are unavailable to answer questions, enter into conversations or solve problems.
  • Eliminate distractions. When working from home, you will find that there will always be a million and one things vying for your attention. Try to make your workspace a noise-free zone and remove anything that can distract you, from your cell phone to the email notifications that pop up every few minutes. Keeping your desk clean and clutter-free can also help keep your mind organized.
  • Don’t forget to take time off. This may sound silly, but many people who work from home actually end up working more hours than they would at the office because they find it hard to switch off from “work mode” and relax. Just as you must schedule your work hours, you must also schedule your breaks and days off in order to maintain a healthy balance between work and play.