The idea of working from home means different things to different people. Many flexible initiatives have come to an abrupt end after productivity faltered early on, often due in no small part to a lack of planning, not only from the business but also the employee.

The freedom to work from anywhere is a great concept, but like anything else needs some structure behind it, perhaps not in the form of strict working hours, but certainly as to how the work is going to get done, rather than the laundry.

Many underestimate the distractions that come from being at home during the day.  An office has the advantage of being work focused, your lounge room or kitchen bench isn’t, and even if you have a dedicated office, there’s plenty nearby to take your focus. All the more challenging if there are people at home – regardless of their intention, if there is something that needs to be done that takes “only five minutes,” they’re likely to ask you.

Here are my top four tips for preparing to work from home.

1.Tell Everyone The Rules

I like listening to music, so when I’m working I’m also wearing headphones. But even if there is no music playing, I leave them on – everyone knows my headphones are a big “Do Not Disturb,” sign.  it’s not unreasonable to ask for focus time when I’m working. talk to those in the house, explain your working and that you’re not available. If you don’t get this rule clear up front, you’re in for a day of interruptions and a lack of productivity.

2.Give Yourself A Start Time

I’m not a huge fan of structure, but there have been days when a morning has disappeared due to lack of intention. By setting a start time, I have to get up, get dressed (pajamas/ trackpants are counted) and get organised. Importantly, my set time is the latest possible time I can start – meaning that starting earlier gives me a sense of accomplishment.

3.Use Technology

When communicating with clients, I use Google Docs, Slack, Asana, Skype and numerous other cloud based services that work from anywhere. Businesses have the ability to interact at a meaningful level with their employees, regardless of where they are. Importantly, if your boss asks you to use one of the numerous time tracking apps on the market, quit.

4. Enjoy It

Ironically, this is often the most difficult part. Paranoia about ‘slacking off,’  often means skipping lunch, and not making the most of the benefits of working from home. When I feel myself getting frustrated, I go and work outside for a while, or go for a walk, or even put aside half an hour and read a book that has nothing to do with business. Working from home is all about balance, and as long as there is as much ‘work’ as there is ‘home,’  that balance works.

A final note to employers, working from home can take some time to get right. Sitting down with workers who are going to embrace flexibility, and assisting them in coming up with a plan, can aid in their success and work to create a new and empowering business model for you.