Top 5 tips for working from home
Technology that is available today makes it possible for many employees to work from home to some degree, however there are still some real challenges for employees especially for those who are experiencing home working for the first time.
The key to successfully working from home is to maintaining a good balance between working and not working. Some employees will struggle to motivate themselves to spend enough time working where as others will find it hard to switch off at the end of the working day. In either case this can be prove to be unhealthy and unproductive.
Additional challenges come from a change in environment. Most employees will have other family members in the house who may or not be working and there are many distractions you would not get when working in the office, such as the family dog barking or the washing machine going in the background.
With all of this in mind, here are some of our top tips for being productive and healthy whilst working from home.
1. Create a suitable working environment.
Your usual office work space will be set up to help you focus on just working. However when working from home this is very difficult to achieve. Even if you are lucky enough to have a spare room you can use as a home office, there will still be many distractions in the home such as family pets and other family members (especially those with children).
Also, don’t forget you’ll need to make sure you have mobile phone reception and a connection to your Wi-Fi in order to work.
Due to many people being forced to work from home, it’s likely that you won’t be the only one trying to work from home or for children of most ages needing to keep up with their studies.
It could be that different family members will need to work in shared family spaces such as in the dining room/area or kitchen or breakfast room so it’s important to make sure that family members are aware of any times when they need to be especially quiet such as during phone calls or online meetings.
This may mean having to share things such as a printer or even the internet which may need to be managed.
As most of us are in the same situation, we will become more used to different background noises when on the phone or during an online meeting but keeping this to a minimum where possible is important – It’s good idea to avoid having the washing machine running during your web seminar for example.
Setting up a working space is vital to help working professionally and maintaining your work/life balance. Finding somewhere where you can work which keeps you away from the rest of the household can be a challenge but incredibly important and don’t forget to make sure you have a suitable sitting position to avoid getting a bad back!
2. Set up a routine that works and stick it
It’s very easy for the normal daily routine to fall by the way side when working from home. Getting up late and working for a few hours in your PJ’s can become the norm very quickly if you let it.
Whilst your day will be quite different than if working in the office, it is important to adapt and identify a routine that works for you whilst working from home.
Try to identify a realistic routine whereby you still get up, shower and dress, eat breakfast before sitting down to work. It’s also import to allow yourself breaks away from your desk (and where possible get some fresh air) to help you maintain your mental well-being.
Finally, make sure to finish your working day at a set time as often as you can. It’s so easy to pop back to your home office or desk to check on an email in the evening only to find yourself working till late and this can be counterproductive in the long term.
3. Set objectives and create a to do list
Because there is no separation between work and home it’s difficult to stop the two from crossing over. The key to this is to identify your main objectives for the day and then break down these into small manageable tasks. Set some targets for each task to help you keep focused in order to achieve your objectives.
Most days, the last action on my list is to set my objectives and to do list for the following day, which works really well for me.
It’s also important to keep a separate list for Work tasks and none work tasks and try and allocate set times for each to help keeping mindful of how these cross over to avoid them becoming a distraction. It’s incredible what household chores get done during the day when working from home, especially when working on a difficult or mundane work task.
Make sure to cross off each of your tasks and objectives at the end of the day to help you feel like you have achieved what you set out to do to keep you motivated and focused.
4. Avoid feeling isolated
Keeping motivated and enthusiastic can be challenging when working from home as it’s easy to feel isolated, quickly especially if you are used to working in an office space shared with other colleagues.
Having a daily meeting can certainly help with this, even if you wouldn’t normally do this in the office. Checking in with your colleagues can help you set objectives and stick to them but more importantly help you feel like you are still part of the team. Online meeting software means these team meetings can even take place ‘face to face’ which also makes you more conscious of your appearance preventing you from slipping into bad habits like spending the day working in your PJ’s.
The frequency of these meetings is also important. Finding what works for your team is key to the productivity of these sessions. One of our customers found that having a meeting at the start and the end of each day was too much and therefore have adapted to just a morning briefing and are finding this much more useful.
5. Keep healthy
When working from an office you will spend at least some part of the day outside, whether it be commuting to/from work or popping out at lunchtime. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of this as it getting outside even briefly can help maintain your mental and physical well-being.
Unfortunately with the current lock down rules, we are limited on what we can do and where we can do but it’s never been more important to make sure you are getting some daylight and fresh air throughout the day.
Spending time in your garden or going for a short walk at lunchtime especially when you don’t feel in the mood to do so will help whatever the weather. However make sure to be responsible and maintain social distancing.
You may be surprised how much better you feel after getting some fresh air, sunshine or even rain!