When it comes to working from home, some of us thrive and some of us struggle. Perhaps you think there’s nothing better than being curled up on the couch with your laptop and having the biscuit jar at arm’s reach. Or maybe you’re the other extreme; you find the lack of face-to-face connection crippling and can’t seem to motivate yourself in the comfort of your own home.
However you feel about remote working, the recent coronavirus pandemic has seen a huge spike in it, and for good reason, too. If you can work from home right now, you should be. If it’s all very new and daunting to you (or even if it’s not), keep reading. We’ve collated a few tips to help you get the best out of working from home.
Just because you won’t be leaving the house doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look presentable. And it’s not just about the way you look, it’s about the way it makes you feel. No-one feels productive in tatty, mismatched pyjamas, so get up, get dressed and start the day as you mean to go on. It’s all about psychology: if you feel professional, you’ll act professionally.
Create a dedicated workspace
Perhaps one of the most important tips. Make sure you dedicate somewhere in the house to do your work – and use it consistently. Somewhere bright, quiet, clutter-free and practical – not somewhere associated with leisure time such as your bedroom or in front of the TV. It’s vital that you have a specific workspace that allows you to enter ‘work mode’. It will help you get in the right frame of mind.
Don’t sacrifice your morning routine
It may be tempting to get started at 7:30 a.m. – there’s no rush hour commute to contend with after all – however, it’s important that you still take some time for yourself in the morning and set boundaries between your life and your work. Have that long, hot shower, enjoy a healthy breakfast, do some yoga. Just because your commute now consists of walking down the stairs or across the room, doesn’t mean your usual morning routine should suffer.
Make sure you write to-do lists every morning to keep your day as structured and productive as possible – just like you would in an office environment. This will help to keep you focused on the day ahead. Having a list of important tasks in black and white will help minimise the chance of going ‘off-piste’.
Keeping in touch with colleagues is crucial, and not just for the obvious reasons. Yes, you’ll need to talk work, a lot, but it’s also nice to touch base for each other’s sanity. Being alone at home can feel really isolating, so having that chat like you normally would at the coffee machine can really help to lift everyone’s spirits.
Take regular breaks and get some exercise
Don’t forget to move. People have a tendency to feel like they’re ‘skiving’ if they unshackle themselves from their desk at home. But they shouldn’t. Breaks are essential. You’ll be more productive if you take short, regular breaks away from the screen. You wouldn’t sit at your desk in the office for your whole shift, so it shouldn’t be any different at home. Admittedly, the current situation makes it difficult to get out and about, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some steps in. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, take advantage of it. Or, if you fancy a ten-minute exercise session there are hundreds of quick workout videos online that you can get stuck into.
Set ground rules with people at home
If you’re not the only person at home, it’s important that you set some ground rules to minimise distraction. We’ve all seen that footage of the BBC reporter taking a live video call at home. It can be funny and charming, and there’s no real harm done, but if you’d like to get on with your work in peace, make sure everyone knows the boundaries: where your dedicated workspace is and when you’ll be in “do not disturb mode”. This will also make the times you are together more special. Maybe you can all have lunch together where talk of work is strictly prohibited.
Work set office hours
You may be tempted to start earlier and finish later – you could stay online that extra couple of hours and get ahead on tomorrow’s paperwork or catch up on all those flagged emails. Be careful not to fall into this bad habit and become overworked. It’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. A bit of overtime isn’t a bad thing, we all do it, just be mindful of getting the balance right. Try and stick to the hours you’d work at the office, and once the day is done, log out and turn all work devices off or mute notifications so you can enjoy your leisure time without interruption.
On the topic, there’s one last thing we’d like to touch upon.
Can I work from home in a rented property?
A good question. Everyone who can, will be working from home right now. So, what does this mean for you as a tenant? In short, if you normally work in an office and have had to bring your work home with you, you won’t need to inform your landlord. However, if you’re having to run a business from your home, then you will need to have a chat with your landlord and get their written permission.