21 Sep Working from home – things to remember
Working from home is a great honour. It means you’re being trusted and need to be responsible. It is a privilege, not a right.
This is written from my perspective – working flexible full-time hours from home. Your circumstances may be a little different but hopefully there are bits that you can pick out that will help to make your time working from home the most enjoyable and productive.
Before you start…
There are so many benefits to working from home – flexible working hours, saving money, being more productive. Like everything though, there are also disadvantages and drawbacks, so you really need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Find out exactly what working from home will mean for you.
A good idea is to maybe write a list of everything you’ll miss about your last job working with other people and try to include some of these into your daily/weekly schedule, and then do the same for the things you really won’t miss, to make sure you don’t let any old habits or routines creep back in.
You may be relieved to escape an annoying ex-colleague or two, but make sure you don’t turn into a hermit! Jokes aside, it’s very easy to feel isolated and develop some level of anxiety so make sure you stay social – listen to the radio, arrange catch-ups with friends and family, attend networking events etc.
At Market Avenue we have a monthly team meeting and brainstorming session, regular Skype calls, 1-2-1 meet ups, online project management tool that we all contribute to and a team WhatsApp group, so there’s always someone there if you need them. We also plan fun team outings!
Hopefully you already have a spot in mind for where you’ll be working – somewhere nice and quiet at home.
Make sure it’s a separate designated work space that can be tidied away and ignored when you’ve finished for the day. It’s never a good idea to ever work from your bed or the sofa (unless you’re ill of course) or this could cause issues when you try to wind-down and sleep, and also give you backache if you’re not sitting properly. It can easily get difficult separating home from work – make sure you draw a line.
To help with productivity, try placing a few inspiring, positive and happy objects around your workplace such as photos, posters, or your favourite flowers.
If you’re concerned about cabin fever or what to do if your internet suddenly stops working, then have a plan b, or c! It’s a good idea to have a backup plan so you don’t start to panic. This could be a local cafe, library, family member’s house… just make sure you take everything you need such as chargers and your notepad. Check that wherever you’re going has Wi-Fi.
Be aware that there may be interruptions and distractions such as the postman, next door’s dog barking, that pile of washing shouting your name. Think about how you’re going to deal with these.
Working from home can take some time to get used to. You need to be very self-disciplined but try not to put yourself under too much pressure or stress. Instead make sure you’re organised (diary/planner/chart/phone/ calendar) – that way you can stay on track and feel in control, focused and calm. All of this will help your brain.
Be honest. Talk to your employer regularly and explain how you’re feeling, if you need help or if you have any questions. They should hopefully know how it feels to suddenly start working from home and will help you until you feel settled. If you’re self-employed or work alone, there are lots of people you can talk to too – family, friends, ex-colleagues.
Lighting is important – make sure your work space is bright enough. Natural light is best for your eyes and mental well-being, if you’re lucky enough to find a spot near to a window. Make sure to take regular breaks if using a computer, writing or anything where you’re really having to focus intensely. Get your eyes checked regularly by an optician.
You may be excited that you can now play whatever music you like, as loud as you like, but make sure it’s not loud enough to damage your ears. On the other hand, you might prefer the peace and quiet. Without the chitter-chatter of other people, you may feel a lot more creative and productive. Find what works best for you.
The rest of your body
It’s really important that you have the correct desk and chair set up to look after your back and your posture. Click here for guidance and regulations when working with a visual display unit (VDU), previously known as display screen equipment (DSE). You can also download a free leaflet.
Try a ten minute brisk walk, attend a yoga class or go swimming. All of these activities will help your body, your mind and your productivity.
Remember to take a break, and a proper lunch, but make sure they’re timetabled so you know when you will be taking them and how long for. Be aware of what you’re eating. Maybe at your last job you ate far too many crisps because you were unhappy, or were tempted by other people’s naughty chocolatey treats, but you’re in control now. This is your time to eat food that’s healthy and makes you feel good. Try drinking water whenever you feel a craving coming on.
If you have any general queries or questions about working from home, a good place to start is here for up to date information on business and being self-employed.
What are your top tips for working from home? You are now more in control of your work life balance and improving your happiness. Also, if it doesn’t work out – don’t beat yourself up. It’s not for everyone and at least you gave it a go.