For many people, working from home is the dream. No more exhausting commutes or dealing with office politics – you can work on your own terms in peace. But working from home doesn’t mean you can just rest on your laurels – it’s important to remain focused and productive if you want to succeed.
In this article, we will look at key work-from-home tips that you can put in place right away.
Nominate a Dedicated Workspace
If your home is now your workplace, you need to identify a specific area as your workspace. This will help keep your focus up and minimise distractions. It doesn’t have to be anything special – a quiet corner with a simple desk is usually sufficient. But it needs to be distinct from the areas where you typically relax so, when you finish working, you can leave that workspace behind and unwind in other areas of the home.
Get an Early Start
You can be flexible, work in your pyjamas and take as many breaks as you like. But too much freedom can hamper your productivity and focus. One good fix for this is to get started early each day – this enables you to get a lot done before midday, which is when energy levels typically start to decline. An early start also makes it easy to take a longer afternoon break and still feel like you’ve been productive. Rise with the start and whittle away that to-do list from the jump.
Dressing for the occasion can also help. The urge to stay in your pyjamas or casual clothes might be significant when you know you don’t have video calls but it can ultimately have an effect on your mental attitude towards your work. You might find your productivity and mood will improve by getting “office ready” each day.
If you aren’t careful, the days can start to blur together and you’ll find yourself lacking in ‘me’ time. Structuring your days consistently can help with this:
- Set a regular wake-up and stick to it.
- Have a little morning routine where you do something you like before starting work (read the news, drink a coffee or take a short walk).
- Give yourself regular breaks to move around, stretch or have a snack so you are not too bogged down.
- When the workday ends, do something you enjoy before bed. Pursue a hobby, watch a film, read a book – just do you.
By following a structure, your life will feel organised and balanced and the lines between home and work won’t become too blurred.
Connect With Colleagues Through Technology
The modern, digital workplace enables you to stay connected with colleagues in many ways. Here are some things you can take advantage of:
- Email and instant messaging for quick questions/updates as required.
- Video conferencing software for regular check-ins with one another.
- Cloud storage systems for sharing documents and files.
- Group chats for swift conversations.
- Project management software for the assigning of tasks and tracking progress.
- Intranet or company social networks for making announcements and posting updates.
Whether you use all or some of these technologies, know that communication and collaboration are essential for a cohesive remote working arrangement.
Use a VPN
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have gained importance in recent years and remote working arrangements have become more common. A VPN helps protect data and keep online activity private. When you connect to one, your traffic is all encrypted, so it becomes extremely difficult for anyone to surreptitiously observe your activities.
If you work from home, you may be sharing a connection with other people so it is extremely important to use a VPN to keep data private and secure. Oh, and never use a public WiFi network like what you see in coffee shops and other public spaces unless it is done using a VPN.
Establish Ground Rules With Your Boss
Your boss may be supportive of your home working arrangement, but you need to establish boundaries so they know what is reasonable to ask of you.
- Agree on regular working hours so you are on the same page about that.
- Agree on how frequently you are available for communication so that you don’t get interrupted.
- Come to an arrangement of what tasks can be done at home and which ones require the office – this can help establish a boundary between work and home life.
These simple ground rules can help you work more effectively from home.
Establish Ground Rules With Your Pets!
This one comes from personal experience and it’s much easier said than done! Ordinarily, your pets would spend a large part of their day alone whilst you’re at work. When working from home, you may find your pets demand more attention than you are able to give them (after all you are still working), so you need to set some boundaries.
It’s important not to let pets disrupt your workflow (apart from the occasional appearance on a video call), even when they seem determined to do so! It might take some time and retraining, but try and establish set times to interact with them, and ideally coincide this with your own timeouts. This tip may be one of the harder ones to implement though!
Embrace Video Conferencing Technology
Advocates of working from home often find that video conferencing tools can boost their productivity. By enabling you to see and hear your colleagues, you may feel less isolated at home and communicate better with other team members. It can also assist with collaboration, with capabilities like screen sharing, file exchanging and brainstorming tools.
If you are new to working from home, it may feel unusual to you. Acknowledge that you may be less productive than usual in the beginning. Be realistic about what you can actually do from home and don’t be hard on yourself if you struggle. Be sure to relax and switch off when your work is done.
Take Sick Days When You Need Them
It can be tempting to keep powering through sickness when working from home. You’re in the house anyway so why not keep working, right? The problem with this is that you can quickly find yourself getting burnt out both physically and mentally. With your immune system already working on overdrive, working can lead to exhaustion and you may get sicker and take longer to recover. So even on work-from-home days, resist the urge to push through sickness and give your body time to rest – it really is better than the alternative.
Establish an End-of-day Routine
One of the risks of working from home is that the lines between work and home life become blurred. An end-of-day routine can help make a clear transition from one to the other. Consider the following:
- Setting a timer for the final hour of work. Use the time to clear up loose ends then stop once the timer ends.
- Taking a few minutes to do some stretching or go for a walk to help transition out of working mode.
- Make some tea or play soothing music to help you wind down at the end of the day.
These types of actions can send a signal to your brain that the workday is finished and you can now relax. These conscious steps may enable you to better enjoy your free time at home.
Allowing employees to work from home has become increasingly popular with employers, and even more so since the pandemic. There are benefits to be had by both employers and employees, but the tips we have discussed are hugely important to maintain productivity and a good work-life balance.
It’s easy to slip into bad habits when working from home, so setting rules and routines for yourself is key. It’s also common for feelings of loneliness to creep in, so connectivity with your colleagues is another crucial consideration.
Working from home is different for everyone, but it’s important to find what works for you.