If you work from home, you probably encounter the common misconception that you spend most of your workday sitting on your couch in your pajamas with only a half-charged laptop to keep you in contact with the working world. It is true that working from home gives you a level of freedom that isn't available to the commute-and-cubicle set, but if you're successful, you make your work environment match or even exceed that of a real office. You keep strict hours and a strict dress code, and you have a designated workspace with a range of technologies that keep you productive and competitive.
If you're trying to find this balance, consider the following technologies to help you out. Then, you'll see that they only thing missing from a traditional office is the daily commute.
Track Your Time
Working from home takes discipline. You are surrounded by all kinds of distractions, including the television, laundry, and children, but you have the same demands as any other employee. Technology can be a great tool for separating your work life from your home life. Smartphone apps like Toggl allow you to track your work life the way any at-office time keeper does, so you know when you put your eight hours in. If you need to limit your time on Facebook or BuzzFeed, RescueTime runs in the background on your computer or phone and limits your time on sites that are notorious for wasting time. If you have the opposite problem and find it difficult to separate yourself from work at the end of the day, use Eternity Time Log to restore balance by tracking your work and play. It even connects with your smartwatch to alert you when it might be a good time time to take a break and smell the roses.
Working from home doesn't always mean working alone. There are meetings to attend and large-scale projects that require collaboration across multiple departments. Google Hangouts and Skype have become standards for video communication on the web. When it's time to get down to work, Dropbox and Quickbase offer specific environments for sharing and managing files. One of the greatest features of these technologies is the ability to track changes over time and quickly delegate tasks for different team members. Physical offices used to be a necessity because you needed an actual location to bring everyone together, but as technology finds newer, better ways for people to connect from remote locations, the cube farm becomes more and more irrelevant.
Make Your Home a Place of Business
If you run your own business out of your house, technology is necessary for promoting your business and giving you a leg up in a competitive market. If you meet with clients at your home office, there are subtle ways to make it feel more like a place of business. When combined with mirroring capabilities of Apple TV and Chromecast, a high-def OLED display is perfect for displaying PowerPoint presentations and product demonstrations. Your clients will be so impressed, they won't ever want to go back to their office.