In the last couple of weeks, many of us have started to work from home. Usually we’d do this on the odd occasion and it would seem like a novelty, but the prospect of doing it full time and indefinitely can take a bit of getting used to!
We’ve pulled together some hints and tips to help you through this transition.
Choose a permanent work space
Whether you have a study, a spare bedroom or a corner of the living room, setting up a designated work area will help you to get in “work mode”, and also allow you to move away from work when it is time to do so. Choose an area that is quiet and away from distractions. It might be tempting to set up office on the sofa, but the latest Netflix series is not going to be conducive to a productive work space. Neither Netflix nor work will get the attention they deserve, so you won’t get anything done. Instead try the radio or a music streaming app for some background noise. Fresh air and natural light will also help, so try to incorporate those into your space, and plants are always good to brighten your mood.
Make sure you have all the equipment you need – laptop, screen, mouse, keyboard – and that you also know how to contact IT Support within your company.
Dress for success
Ok, you don’t need to be in a suit, but equally you shouldn’t be working in your PJs! Make the effort to get up and get ready as though you were going into your usual workplace – this will help you adjust your mindset from your normal “at home” routine. If you’re dressed for work, you’ll be mentally and physically prepared for the day. Plus, you never know when someone will suggest a last-minute video call….
Set working hours and availability
Just because you are working from home, it doesn’t mean you need to be available 24-7. Set out your work hours and try to stick to them. You might find that you are starting work earlier as you don’t have the usual commute, or you prefer a lie in and to work a bit later. Set your availability in your calendar and let your colleagues know. At the end of your working day, turn off your laptop and work phone, and move away from your work area.
Create a new routine
Not having to get up and rush for a train can lead to you have a lie in and getting up when you feel like it. But structure can be good for you, and you’ll feel more productive if you try and follow a normal routine. Set your alarm. Get up and have a shower. Have some breakfast and make your lunch as you normally would. Then maybe get some fresh air; drink your coffee in the garden or hang the washing out.
Take regular breaks
Whilst we automatically think working from home can be more productive as you don’t face the same distractions as in the office, having time away from your screen is important to maintain focus and creativity. Make them part of your routine, or use as a reward for ticking things off your to-do list. Get away from your desk – go out in the garden for 5 minutes, have a quick call with a friend, prep your dinner…just something to give your mind a break from work and refresh yourself.
It’s important to take your lunch break too. Set an alarm, or add your lunch break into your calendar. It’s easy to keep on working when you don’t have any distractions.
Moving away from your desk can also help if you’re struggle to focus, stuck on how to progress something – going into another room could be all it takes to think about something differently and help you to refocus. Or find something different to do for a short while, such as organising your inbox.
One of the downsides for many of working from home is the loneliness and isolation, so keep in touch with your colleagues. Make a point of picking up the phone rather than sending an email, or try one of the many chat apps:
Communication is key for keeping each other updated with project status, progress etc. Rather than second-guessing each other, a quick call or even using a messenger app on a regular basis to discuss progress makes it easier for everyone involved.
Stay connected with your colleagues, even if it is just for a chat – it doesn’t have to be work related. You could set up a weekly call over lunch where you don’t talk about work, just a general chat like you would in the office; many of the chat apps mentioned above allow multiple users to join the same chat, so take a few minutes and see which will work best for you. And keep reminding your colleagues of when you are out of the office etc; whilst you’re not going to forget your upcoming annual leave, it’s easy for them to!
Set ground rules with family and friends
This isn’t just people in your home, but also those who may phone or call round. Just because you are not in the office, make sure family and friends know that doesn’t mean you are available at all times – you are trying to work, and constant interruptions won’t help. Remind them that you could be on a video call at any time, so no bursting into your work area unannounced or hanging around in the background while you’re on a call….we’ve all seen the stories on social media 😉 Let them know your schedule. If you have children who will come home from school while you are working, make it clear to them what they can and cannot do during that time.
Similarly, when you’re working hours are over, make sure you switch off your laptop and work phone, and give your family and friends your full attention.
We hope this helps with your transition into working from home. If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, or funny stories, please get in touch on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages. Thanks.