The ability to work from home means that we can better balance busy working lives with personal responsibilities and commitments.
It’s very nice to be able to wake up, not have to commute to the office and complete your working day from the comfort of your own home, but we need to make sure we’re doing it right and making the most of the working day.
The set up
Most of us feel more comfortable working from home but that comfort shouldn’t be the predominant factor when designing/arranging a work-space .
If you want to be productive when telecommuting then you’ll need to be disciplined about your setup.
For example, sitting on a beanbag with your laptop or tablet on your lap won’t be the most productive way of working, nor is sitting on your bed.
You need a dedicated working area which is set up as such, this will put you in the right frame of mind to get on with the day’s work.
Tools of the trade
One restriction which, until recently, prevented many from working at home was the availability of digital tools that could be used from anywhere and on any machine.
With the growth of cloud solutions over the past few years these connectivity problems experienced when working away from the office have been largely alleviated.
Business tools are available on any PC or device, communication is possible through a variety of mediums and collaborating with remote colleagues is easier than ever.
If you’re using your own equipment while working from home you should ensure that all the tools you require are pre-installed.
You should have a profile set up on each, be logged in and have made your colleagues aware of the ways in which they can interact with you when not in the same office.
When deciding on which tools to use for day to day activities it’s important that you and your colleagues are all using the same solutions. With so much choice in the market for pretty much any genre of software it’s easy to fall into the trap of using a tool yourself that no one else is utilising.
If your technology is aligned then communication and collaboration become much easier and working from home has little or no bearing on how ‘available’ you are.
Setting goals and striving to achieve them will help you to motivate yourself and reward you with a sense of achievement at the end of the working day.
By knowing what you’ve got to do and structuring your day accordingly you’ll be more productive and have a clearer view of your remaining workload and progress.
There are many applications available that can help you to create a to-do list. These include:
There’s two ways that a to-do list can be used:
- By you personally to help you plan your day and keep track of what needs to be completed
- As a collaboration tool to let others know your schedule and workload
- Sitting in front of a computer screen for any length of time, whether at home or in the office, will start to hurt and potentially damage your eyes
- Not eating properly throughout the day will lessen your concentration and affect your productivity
- Simply sitting for too long is known to damage health in a number of ways
For the above reasons you should take regular breaks and step away from your home office, even if it’s standing up to prepare lunch or taking a walk around the garden.
Not doing so affects your wellbeing and your productivity.
There’s distraction both in the office and at home, whether this is other people interrupting you to ask a question or the dog barking to be let out into the garden.
When working from home it’s important to minimise distraction as best you can.
Make family members aware that you’re working and not on a day off. Leave the back door open to allow the dog to make its own way in and out of the garden and turn the TV off, even if it’s in another room.
If there’s distracting noises in the house then play some music in your office to enable you to concentrate on what you’re supposed to be doing.
When working from home it’s likely that you’ll receive more emails than usual and you’ll need to plan how to cope with them without affecting your routine.
Email windows are a good way to manage your reactive time, set 10 minutes every couple of hours to go through email messages and respond to anything urgent. Don’t look at your inbox at any other time as you’ll become reactive and essentially be working on someone else’s tasks and schedule.
Work the hours when you’re most productive
One great thing about working from home is that you can set your own hours (as long as you work a full day). When in the office it’s usually the case that you’ll be working 9 to 5 (or thereabouts) every day and these may not be your most productive hours.
If you’re not a morning person then start and finish later than you would in the office. If you are an early riser then start early and finish with enough time to enjoy your afternoon.
Remain on the radar
As mentioned before using communication apps and tools is a simple and effective way to stay connected to the office without being constantly part of a conference call.
Some great communication tools include: