Updated: Nov 30, 2020
When this blog was first written back in 2018, working from home was not as commonplace as it has become in 2020.
We have gone from working from home on an occasional day to working from home directed and enforced by the government.
Working from home is a fantastic tool to enable flexibility in the workplace. If you are finding the changes to working from home a challenge, then here are some top tips to help.
If you are facing a challenge that is not covered within this blog then feel free to comment below or send a message and we can offer some advice or additional resources that may help.
1. SET UP YOUR WORKSPACE
Regardless of where your working environment is, you need to create an environment that feels like a workspace. Get up, get dressed, and sit in an office-style environment. It is helpful to remove normal home distractions from that room if you can.
In the same way that you would leave the office at work make sure that you log off and close the office door at the end of the day.
Where you do not have an office space try to separate the area and if you can pack things up at the end of the day so that it sends a clear message that your working day has ended.
Where possible keep work and home as separate as possible so that there is a clear difference in the day’s activities.
Even if you don't have an office, create a designated work space!
2. SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES
If you wouldn’t do it at work don’t do it at home; TV, films, music, personal calls etc.
Share and communicate your schedule and make sure the start, finish and break times are maintained. Minimise distractions as much as possible, switch off notifications, leave the personal admin until breaks or close of play and try to keep a clear separation between the two worlds.
The sooner you set the boundaries the easier it is to establish a productive routine that works for you and the business.
3. CREATE A ROUTINE
Where possible replicate your best working environment, and working routine. Mirror the office work environments and routines that worked for you as much as possible.
Working from home should bring many of your office working benefits but with added flexibility so make it work for you. Take the best from both worlds until you find a routine that is optimum for your productivity.
Many of us move less when we work from home, we don't have the usual walk around the office, walking to meetings, the bathroom, water cooler etc. You will need to make a more conscious effort to move more during the working day. Can you walk while on calls? Think outside of what you might normally do to try and keep your activity levels up.
4. TAKE A BREAK
Whether you are in the office or working from home you will have meal breaks that you are entitled to. Take your lunch away from the office desk so that it is a clear desk and screen break. Take a walk, take a break outside if you can. There is an opportunity to do a quick blast of household chores if needed but put the timer on the clock so that you have a clear end to the break and head back to the office and work mode.
If working from home results in you feeling isolated from your colleagues and the rest of the world use your breaks to get your 'people' fix. Check-in with friends and family, send that catch-up message or pop a note to someone you haven't spoken to in a while.
Working from home means you can get your chores completed and out the way in work breaks.
5. SET YOUR PRIORITIES
Set your priorities at the beginning of the day. List three items that you will complete that day, ideally two 'start' and 'finish' tasks and one task that contributes to a larger activity. Manage your ‘To do’ list by adding dates to each task to help you manage your time effectively and time box activities to help maximise productivity. Working from home and time boxing work excellently together, and can result in a highly effective working environment.
6. COMMUNICATE WITH COLLEAGUES
Keep lines of communication open. You may not need to check in every hour with your line manager or work colleagues, however, if they cannot see you in the office, help them see your output. Use software that will help you to share visibility of team tasks and workload as well as your calendar so that they have visibility, if needed, of your work commitments.
Check-ins and debrief calls with colleagues each day can also help keep lines of communication open. This can be via a phone call or instant messenger chat but a quick check-in of what you have planned for the day, any emerging priorities or issues and a debrief catch up at the end of the day can help keep engagement regular and working relationships strong.
7. COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS AT HOME
If you are juggling other priorities, maybe homeschooling or childcare, or maybe you have a shared working space with a partner or housemate then you will need to communicate your daily schedule. Share times when you might need more quiet, or less pressure on the wi-fi, any key meetings or any deadlines that you need to focus on.
If you share your working space at home you are likely to be faced with some of the challenges you might have in an open-plan shared office. Communicating with those you share the space with will help reduce any conflict and also ensure that you are protecting any privacy and confidentiality issues.
Working from home has been directed and is now becoming more commonplace as the world moves through the COVID-19 pandemic and the working world adapts to new ways of working.
Whilst improved flexibility, removal of a commute and work-life balance has been an advantage for some, it has presented other challenges such as isolation, lack of communication, lack of boundaries and routine for others.
We have a wide range of resources on the website that may help you. If you cannot find a resource that helps then you are welcome to send a message with a question or book in a clarity call and we can talk through how Coaching may help you.