by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA
One of the major benefits of becoming a Medical Coder is the opportunity to work from home. Remote employment offers a multitude of benefits, including lower costs for professional clothing, reduced vehicle costs, and avoiding the stress of morning and afternoon rush hour commutes. There are also benefits to being home when the kids get on and off the bus, and to allow repair personnel and others access to your home without having to use a vacation day just to let them in.
Amid all the benefits, however; it’s important to recognize that there is also a risk that work will begin to invade your home life, and this is a prescription for burn-out. While coders who work from home get a few extra minutes to snooze in the morning, and avoid the morning commute, the successful home-based coder takes the breaks as structured by their employer. They get up and walk around, or stretch in their office, and get a snack or glass of water to break up the monotony, and provide a break from sitting too long. Lunch time should take place away from your desk and like your breaks, provide a healthy change of activity level, scenery, and focus for that period of time.
The most successful home-based employees have a separate area dedicated for their work space. They still have “a place to go” that is separate from the living area of their home and allows them to close the door at the end of the day and stop working. At the end of your work day it’s important to turn off your computer and shut down your work area and the reasons extend beyond the important practice of maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of the information you work with as a Coding professional! Regardless of how much work was still waiting for you at the end of your day, unless you are working approved overtime, make it a practice to respect the confines of your work day and walk away at the end of it. For most of you, the work will continue to come in, and you could easily spend hours into the evening coding “just one more” chart. Resist the temptation to do this. You’re being paid to work within a set timeframe. If your productivity is at acceptable levels and yet still, you struggle to manage the workload it’s time for a discussion with your manager.
Your responsibility is to code accurately and productively according to the established standards within your organization. You should also communicate clearly with your manager if the workload is increasing and you’re finding yourself working 10-hour days while you are paid for only eight. Even the best managers cannot read minds. If you’re working past your time just to keep up with the workload, you need to speak up.
Work is a wonderful way to earn a living, practice our professional skills and contribute to our communities and society but it “works” best when we recognize and respect the balance between work and the rest of our lives, and we set reasonable boundaries and abide by them. This is much easier to recognize when we “go away” to work but no less important.
Enjoy your benefit of working from home, but be sure to stay aware of your work/life boundaries, create routines that help you abide by them, and reap the benefits of the perfect balance of work and home!
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