Do your homework! – Advice on how to work from home effectively.
For those working from home veterans out there, the remote working measures recently implemented due to the COVID-19 outbreak won’t be too challenging, yet for those inexperienced homeworkers it can be quite a tough transition. We’ve all been there – starting the day with the best intentions and a clear plan in mind, only to end up in front of the TV four hours deep into a Netflix binge eating your seventh packet of crisps! If you find that your work ethic at home is lacking, don’t fret. There are numerous simple adjustments and changes in behaviour you can make to get the most out of working at home.
This might seem like a silly suggestion but it’s amazing the difference it can make to your mindset. For many people, staying in your pyjamas all day is one of the main perks of working from home, but studies have shown that simply getting dressed can have a significant psychological impact and get you set for a proper day of work.
Set up your workspace.
Similarly to what you’re wearing, your workspace can also have a huge impact on your motivation and productivity. Now we know that not everyone has a full home office set up, yet you still need to consider where you’re working to keep your mind on the job. Don’t sit in bed, don’t sit in front of the television, in fact try to keep your workspace clear of any potential distractions. If possible you need to sit in a chair at a table, preferably with some natural light. A very simple task yet very effective.
Stick to your routine
One of the biggest challenges people face when working at home is resisting the temptation for a nice long lie-in. For the majority of people, they have a set working pattern: a set time they get up, a set time they have their breaks, and a set time they finish for the day. As much as you can you need to stick to this pattern. Most importantly make sure you set an alarm and get up on time! A slow morning easily transforms into a slow day and you’ll end up with that awful feeling like you’ve wasted the day. Stick to your routine and you will be more productive and happier with your workday.
Self isolation doesn’t mean you have to be isolated
Another significant issue for people working from home is the feeling of isolation and lack of interaction, which over an extended period can have real affect on your emotional wellbeing and mental health. Thankfully the prevalence of communication technology in our modern world breaks down these barriers and allows us to easily talk to the outside world. For the employers out there, make sure your home workers have access to video conferencing, instant messaging and other communication tools. Arrange frequent video conferences, have skype meetings, have everyone logged into live chat, maybe even arrange video conferencing lunch breaks. This will help to stave off the feelings of isolation as well as help each other to stay productive.
Put some work into your to-do list
A positive, or negative aspect of home working (depending on your point of view) is the fact your boss isn’t there. There’s no one there to check up on your work, set you tasks, establish deadlines and priorities etc. Although you will still most likely have regular interactions with your superiors, it may not be at the level that your accustomed to. This provides both the challenge and opportunity of managing your own workload. Take the time on at least a weekly basis to establish a proper plan for your workload, including priorities and deadlines, and make sure you stick to the plan. As well as improving your working from home productivity, taking this approach will also develop key professionals skills (initiative, leadership, organisation etc).
Working from home will mean you have easy access to the most unhealthy aspects of your daily life (i.e. your sofa and that extra large bar of chocolate hidden in the top cupboard). You need to resist the temptation to be lazy all day and try to get a bit of exercise and eat healthily. Have a decent breakfast with some fruit, make your packed lunch for the day and make sure it’s a balanced meal that will help you through the afternoon, and take a bit of time have some gentle exercise during the day. If you can try and get outdoors for a bit, even if that’s just sitting in the back garden for 20 minutes for a bit of fresh air and sunshine. This can really help to revitalise both you and your flagging workday.
With all this advice there is a clear overriding factor to their success, your own willpower! If you find working from home challenging you need to change your mindset, and that starts with changing your behaviour. If you follow the advice we’ve laid out here you will find yourself being equally if not more effective at your job than when you’re in the office.