We’re now in the second week of the COVID-19 lockdown and now that companies have shifted to encourage their employees to work remotely, or for the already self employed like myself where this is the daily norm, here are some useful tips to make working from home successful.
Over the past 7-8 years I’ve largely been working remotely and it certainly does come with its perks. From setting your alarm clock that little bit later, no stressful or time consuming commuttes, flexible agenda’s to do some exercise throughout the day, having a cup of coffee and a catch up with your partner, to spending those all important moments with your kids if you have any.
This isn’t to say working from home is ‘fun & games’ all day long. It has its challenges such as the lack of face-to-face time with your colleagues or customers, home office setup and the right tools to do your job effectively. It may even make you feel lonely or isolated at times which is why it’s so important to take frequent breaks, exercise, or by picking up the phone instead of sending an email.
Taken from my own personal experience, I’ve put this blog together to offer you some insightful hints to make ‘working from home work for you’.
Sticking to your core working hours
It’s important to define your working hours and stick to them as best as you can. Easier said than done I know, but it allows you to separate work from your personal time. We all fall into the temptations of working late to finish a job, but it’s important to give yourself some extra time the following morning to stay fresh and alert.
I find an effective way to manage this is by ending each day by planning the next. By blocking out sections of your day to the tasks at hand will help you stay focussed to achieve the work that needs to be completed. Prioritising your workload is vital when working from home as it avoids the temptation of carrying out the less challenging tasks first.
Here’s an example of how you could block out your day; created in Calendars by Readdle.
If you are using a Mac, you can also keep an eye on your average daily screen time.
Setting up a dedicated home office
Have you ever been tempted to stay in bed with your laptop? Who hasn’t? This is by far the hardest temptation to avoid but it’s important to get up and on with your daily routine as if you were going to the office.
Whether you have a home office or a temporary setup on the dining room table, wherever your work happens to be stationed, that should be your work zone only. A place where you are tuned in and concentrated at the tasks at hand.
Why is this important? It allows you to separate spaces within your home from work and personal use. If you're chilling on the sofa, avoid pulling out the laptop and checking your emails. Allow yourself to have some downtime. These boundaries will allow you to feel that you still maintain a work / life balance.
Have you got the tech?
Having the right technology allows you to work effectively and efficiently. If you’ve got broadband, are you on the fastest connection? Have you got headphones and a web camera as you’ll find yourself on video conferencing a lot more than you used too.
Finding the right tech early on to complete your tasks will save you time and much frustration. Be prepared with a back-up! Nothing more frustrating when a service provider is causing you problems. If you’re having trouble with video conference, can you dial-in quickly not to miss out, or have a ‘plan B’ in place i.e. switch over to an alternative platform like Skype.
This may seem strict when working from home but you’ll soon learn that if you have a family at home, they’ll be wanting your attention all that more often. You’ll be asked; can you help me with the laundry, can you vacuum the house, can you watch the baby while I go for a run, do you want to have a beer in the garden (whilst as tempting as this is) and the list goes on…
Set yourself boundaries early on so they know when you are working and when you are free to have some personal time. I’m lucky enough to have a home office setup and if the door is closed that means ‘DO NOT DISTURB’. As strict as it may sound, it can save you from distractions when you're on a call / video conferencing or simply trying to complete a difficult task.
Take regular breaks
This is one I have to tell myself everyday, as when you are busy, taking breaks feels against the norm. Whilst going outside is more challenging right now because of the lockdown, if you are lucky enough to have a back garden, stretch your legs and get some fresh air. If you do venture out of the house, ensure you follow the social distancing guidelines from the government but don’t let your physical activity completely stop. Find moments within your day to take a break from your screen as a little downtime can help massively. Just a few minutes of fresh air to relax can help you solve that problem you’ve been working on for the past hour. It’s amazing how many times I’ve been here!
There are many more useful tips to share and over the coming weeks I’ll be doing exactly that; from providing some of the tools I use to make my working from home experience efficient, platforms that I can’t live without and some upcoming trends to train up on for when the lockdown ends.
Thanks for reading, stay home and stay safe!