By Tim Duffy, CEO, MeetingZone

When reading articles about how to work effectively from home I often think that the issues discussed make it sound far more difficult than it really is.

Working from home is really very easy and can be just as productive, if not more productive than working in an office environment. Here are my tips around what you need to do to ensure working from home, is as effective as sitting in your office:

A laptop or desktop with broadband access.

A designated ‘work ‘space, preferably an ‘office’ but if this is not possible then a corner of the house or dining room table. Anywhere that you, and perhaps more importantly anyone else who may be at home, associates with you ‘working’ and where you can be free to make a mess!

An ‘office’ type chair. Make yourself comfortable as sitting for long periods of time on a kitchen or dining room chair is not good for your back or general posture.

A separate ‘work’ land line with a handset or, even better, a headset allowing hands-free capability, making it easy to talk and type without crooking the handset under your chin. The loudspeaker functionality on a mobile phone is generally very poor. A dedicated line allows outward bound call charges to be easily expensed and itemised. Increasingly broadband providers offer a DSL phone, so this is easy to put in place, although these are not always the best quality so beware.

You need to understand exactly how to access your e-mail and the company servers and folders and understand the security implications of accessing your company network. It is also important that you have access to your employers’ resource when IT problems arise.

Additionally you will need business communications tools that allow you to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, team members, customers and suppliers just as if you were all located in the same meeting room.

A great way to ensure that you keep in touch and connected to your colleagues is via Instant Messenger. At MeetingZone we insist that all remote workers, and in fact all employees wherever they are, use Instant Messenger. This ensures that all of our staff work in a ‘pool’ of instant contact and everyone can see who is available. I’m not sure how we could manage our business effectively without this visibility and instant contact.

You also need access to business collaboration tools, such as an integrated audio and web conferencing solution. These tools enable you to quickly and easily meet, communicate and collaborate with who you want, when you want, regardless of the location of any of the participants.

You will already have sorted out your ‘work’ land line and no doubt will have a mobile, so you already have access to the simplest of all our business communications tools, the telephone and are equipped to hold an audio conference.

But how many times do you attend a meeting without the need to share information, be it a presentation, a sales forecast, a contract or budget details, etc. With access to a web conferencing application you can share information with all of your meeting participants just as if you were all sitting around the same meeting room table.

To access a web conferencing application all you need is access to a laptop or desktop and a broadband connection which I have already discussed.

However, it is important for you to have regular face to face contact with your manager, your colleagues and team members so it is key that you are able to go into the main office, whenever you want, for ‘traditional’ in person meetings.

So if you are able to put all of my tips in place and ensure that you have regular visits to the main office, even though you are a working from home, you will feel completed integrated within your business.

As a home worker you are an extremely valuable asset to your business as home workers not only maintain but often exceed levels of productivity and efficiency. All good for the bottom line!