Where do you work best? In an office, in a public place or in your house?
It’s fair to say that perceptions of home working have changed over the years. In the early days, news that a colleague was working from home would be met with raised eyebrows and amused glances. The idea that somebody could be productive and diligent away from the confines of the office seemed fanciful.
Over time that perception has changed. Nowadays many businesses actively encourage home working. It can save costs, improve wellbeing and productivity, plus it reflects well on the employer. Fewer people travelling is good for the environment. Enabling remote working also allows businesses to widen their talent pool and be less restricted in who they can employ.
What’s more, advances in technology and the nature of many jobs has meant that there is a lot more scope to allow employees to stay away from the office.
In the ten years between 2005 and 2015, the number of people who worked from home has increased by over 500%. The Office of National Statistics estimates that by 2020 around 50% of workers will be based remotely. However you look at it, it’s clear that homeworking is becoming more and more a part of working life.
That’s not to say that homeworking is always easy. Being in the confines of your own home all day can be boring, demotivating and can present logistical difficulties. So here are ten top tips to help you get the most from working from home:
Simple huh. You do it every day. But there is often a temptation to just get up, fire up the laptop, check your emails whilst eating breakfast, then work all day in your pyjamas. There’s nothing specifically wrong with that, but you’ll find that you’re at your most productive if you stick to a routine. As close as possible, try to stick to the routine you’d have if you were going to your place of work. I’m assuming that involves getting dressed at some point!
Manage your time
A big perk of working at home is that you can manage your time more flexibly. You don’t have to work 9am-5pm and you don’t have to have your lunch break bang on midday. That’s great and gives you more freedom, but it’s still important to structure your day. Try to plan when you’re going to have breaks and for how long. Use a calendar to plan your days and try to stick to it as much as possible.
Do some exercise
Take away your commute and you’ll find that your daily step count is somewhat diminished. But it does offer you a bigger window of opportunity for doing some exercise. Whenever possible try to allocate some time for going for a walk or doing something a bit more vigorous. Not only will it help keep you fit and improve your vitamin D levels, but it will also ensure your mind stays sharp and fresh. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you have to stay in the house all day.
That next episode on Netflix, those new clothes you want to buy, even that bit of housework you’ve been meaning to do are all potential distractions when working from home. There’s nothing wrong with doing one or more of those things during your breaks, but try to avoid multiple trips to the kitchen or television when you should be doing some work. You wouldn’t be able to watch Stranger Things in the office!
It’s good to talk
Working at home can be lonely. There’s no ‘office banter’ to enjoy/endure, there are no meetings to break up the day and there’s no potential for a lunchtime chinwag in the staffroom. But that doesn’t mean you have to be completely isolated. I’m assuming you’ve got a phone, and of course, you’ve got a computer so there’s nothing to stop you checking in with colleagues or clients to throw some ideas around, or even just to hear another voice.
There might be a temptation to sit in bed or curl up on the sofa. But remember those ergonomics posters in the office? I’m pretty sure they don’t show the worker lying down or sprawled out on a lounger. Ideally, you’ll have a home ‘office’ you can work from, with appropriate chairs and desks in place. Failing that, make sure you’ve got a suitable business chair and position yourself at an appropriate table. As far as possible, sit how you would do in the office.
Work when you work best
When planning your day, consider when you are at your most productive. If you’re an ‘early’ person then it makes sense to start work early and front load your working day. If you’re not a morning person, then maybe plan to work into the evening and give yourself an easier start to the day. Do your hardest tasks when your brain is sharpest. Working from home offers this kind of flexibility, so take advantage of it.
Prepare your food the night before
Fancy something elaborate and time-consuming for lunch? That’s all very well, but 90 minutes in the kitchen isn’t going to get that important report written. Why not prepare your lunch and snacks the night before? That way you spend the time allocated for eating meals, actually eating meals!
Do what’s best for you
Do you work better with music or the radio on? Do you like hearing the distant sound of a television in another room or do you prefer absolute silence when working? Working from home gives you more options on that front, so take advantage of them. If you’re in a comfortable environment you’ll be more productive.
Pretend you’re in the office
Finally, as much as possible act like you would if you were sat at your desk in the office. Have a professional and diligent attitude, be productive and work to a high standard. Take advantage of the perks working can home offers, but not to the detriment of your output. In fact, with the freedom working can home bring, you can be even more productive than you would be in the office.
Do all of that and you can enjoy a productive day in your house.