A sizeable percentage of the UK work-force may well have to work from home soon if the coronavirus spreads and it may be a fairly new experience for a number of them.
Working from home, whether you’re self-employed or are part of a company, isn’t necessarily everyone’s first choice. Some find it easier than others – it really depends on your home set-up and also your personality. Having worked at home for the last 8 years I thought I’d share a few tips and some things to try and avoid from my own experiences of remote-working.
1. Create a dedicated work-environment
In an ideal world, you would have a separate room where you can go to work and also leave things behind at the end of the day. Not everyone will have their own office at home obviously, but it is important to try and have a dedicated work space. Even if it’s a flat space in a corner of a room!
2. Try to stick to regular office hours
The idea of working from home can sound great but it’s a very different reality being on your own, as the onus is entirely on you to get your work done. Deciding on designated working hours can help set out a groundwork for the day. The most productive hours of the day tend to be in the mornings and early afternoons, but this is different for everyone obviously. If you are lucky enough to be your own boss, then greater flexibility can work for or against you!
3. Dress the part
You’re working and no-one wants to see you in your PJ’s, so make sure you dress appropriately and look presentable – you never know when that Skype call from a client or your boss will pop up!
How to avoid distractions at home can be a huge issue for remote-workers. Whether this comes in the form of kids, pets, household chores,TV, the fridge, family or friends, you have to learn to be able to switch off from them and concentrate on the job in hand.
5. Switch it off!
Put your phone on silent if you have a task to do which requires meticulous concentration – if it’s urgent the caller will leave a message or call back later. Turn off other distractions such as social media or even the radio – the TV is completely off-limits during office hours for me. Set your Skype to busy and switch off email notifications if you can.
6. Adopt forward-planning
Plan your workload carefully, making lists to help you focus and prioritise what needs doing first. Break projects down into smaller sub-projects and get the most daunting tasks ticked off first if you can.
Just because you’re at home shouldn’t give people an open invitation to pop in. Make it clear to family and friends that you have work to do. You can catch up with them on your lunch break or at the end of the day.
8. Health and wellbeing
Your health, wellbeing and state of mind are paramount. It’s all too easy to sit at your desk all day and not take a break. Get away from your desk when you can and get some fresh air – even 10 minutes will help you refocus. We’re all guilty of not doing this sometimes, myself included, but there are often repercussions further down the line. Go for a walk, talk to people, cut the grass, take the dog out – getting away from your desk and the stresses of work when you’re able to is vital and can be a real game-changer.
9. Leave work behind at the end of the day
Try to stick to your set work hours by logging off on time whenever you can. It’s not possible 100% of the time obviously and sometimes you’ll have to start early or work late but take an extra half hour the next day if you can. Try not to let checking your emails outside of work hours become the norm and be extra-vigilant with this last thing at night.
10. Time off
Don’t work weekends or holidays unless it’s absolutely imperative. If you do, management or clients might come to take this as a given – and like most bad habits it can be harder to get out of than into!
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