Employees

Working-From-Home-Tips

Working from Home Tips

Working from home can either be a very productive location to work or can have the opposite effect. I was asked the other day on some tips regarding work from home and I have written several articles regarding Managing Personal Relationship Whilst Working from Home and How to Stay Focused Working from Home, however I wanted to highlight some critical ones that you really shouldn’t miss.

    Tips to work from home:

  • Set a designed working area.
  • It may be convenient to sit on the lounge chair, or at your kitchen table to complete your work, but to minimise distractions and help to separate your personal life from your work life it is recommended if you can to create a designated space for working at home. If you work from home on a regular basis, this is critical to ensure that this clear physical separation is achieved to minimise the blur that regularly exists when working from home.

  • Get out of your Pyjamas!
  • I know it’s really tempting to stay in your comfy attire that you woke in and don’t get me wrong, I sometimes do it early in the morning when I have conference calls at 6am. I do want you to consider the impact of not getting dressed though. Your pyjamas symbolise a time to rest and recoup, and if you start working in your pyjamas, this clear distinction from a clothing perspective will soon become blurred. If you don’t think so, compare your professionalism from when you’re in your pyjamas to when you’re not. You may be surprised with your attitude, persona, and results by getting dressed like you would go into the office.

  • Know what you have to deliver.
  • Having clear expectations on what you need to deliver will allow you clarity on your time and delivery outcomes. Unfortunately, often Managers question working from home, mainly due to concerns around productivity when people cannot be seen. By working with your Manager to gain a shared understanding what needs to be achieved in what period of time will definitely help all parties to know whether the arrangement is working or not.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Flexible Working Arrangements

Flexible working arrangements describe when work is completed outside the normal business practice or outside the traditional organisation’s working agreement.

Flexible working arrangements may take a variety of forms and to help highlight some of the popular options, we have described and provide an example of these below-

Option Description Example
Flexible working hours The same working hours are completed, however start, break or finish times are adjusted An employee may start earlier, has a shorter lunch break to finish early to pick up the kids from school
Work from home Occasionally, some or all of the job is completed from home An employee may need to be home for a tradesperson to complete some work, this allows them the ability to be home and work remotely, without having to take a day’s leave
Part time The position is available on a permanent basis generally working on average between 15 – 30 hours per week An employee who is also studying at the same time, but is able to bring in a regular income through a permanent position
Casual The position is on a temporary basis where hours vary An individual may want to generate more income over the Christmas holidays working in retail
Job Sharing One role performed by two people Two employees that share the role of Receptionist, one is a recent mother who works 3 days per week and the other is a full time student working 2 days per week
Phased Retirement Options Opportunity to work reduced hours / have time off A senior Manager may reduce their hours to part time and play more of a mentor role in the organisation to ease their way into retirement but also help transfer knowledge before exiting the workforce

When is Your Most Productive Time of the Day?

One of the keys to being productive is knowing when you reach your peak productive time state during the day. Do you know when this is? Productivity can be described in a variety of ways, including when you are focused, energetic and driven to take actions and cause results. Everyone of course is different, so the time of day will vary when people reach this optimum state.

When are you most productive?
Consider your day was broken up into the following time segments. Which would be the time slot that you would be at your peak productive time state? If you are unsure when this is, consider your last week, when did you find it easy to take actions and produce results? When did you struggle to do any work at all? You may like to list the order in the table, with 1 being your most productive time segment. Although you may not work all time segments, list them all, as this will allow you to see whether you are also in an optimum state outside of work as well.
Knowing when you are in this most productive state, it is a terrific idea if you can, schedule your work around these times. Schedule important meetings, tasks or events in your life where possible when you are in this peak state, and the easier tasks when you are perhaps when you are least productive. For me, I am not an early morning person and I am fortunate to have control over when I work. My peak productive time state is 3 – 5pm, therefore I schedule my day to optimise this time and also to ensure that my two other most productive time segments are also being maximised.

The Pros and Cons of Casual Work

The Pros and Cons of Casual Employment

I received a lovely gift recently to be pampered at a day spa and I was speaking with one of their casual workers. She shared how she hadn’t had a weekend off in 7 months…. Wow 7 months! I couldn’t even imagine. It has been many years since I’ve had to work in any industry that works on the weekend, that I have taken my weekends off for granted.

As she works in the beauty industry, the peak time for business is when the majority of workers are not at work, therefore evenings and weekends. This can be quite difficult particularly when your partner, family and friends are not on the same work schedule as you and the time that you do have off is when those closest to you are working. This worker also shared her desire to buy a house and that casual work meant that hours weren’t consistent from week to week, therefore not helping her to have a reliable guaranteed income to achieve this goal.

Unfortunately, for this casual staff member, there appears to be noticeable cons at the present time, however there are a lot of employees where casual work is the ideal situation for them. When I was at university, I had a casual job and it was terrific that I would be able cut my hours right back during assessment time, then increase my hours over the holiday period when I was not studying. This situation was ideal for me and so many other students as well.

Improve-your-Leave-Request-Success

Going on Leave? Improve your Leave Request Success

Requesting leave from your employer is an exciting time, as normally you have some fun, relaxing or challenging time away from work ahead of you (depending of course on how you like to spend your leisure time!). Depending on the relationships you have with your Manager and/or your employer’s leave policy, this can be daunting to ask as it may not be a sure yes and timing can be everything.

To help increase the chances of your leave being granted, here is some preparation you can do prior to asking:

  • Determine the leave dates and number of leave days you will be taking
  • Establish if you will have enough leave to cover the period of time (if not, how do you propose to go on leave? Use unpaid/flexible leave etc)
  • Identify any role/business clashes that may impact on your ability to be granted leave and determine possible solutions for these (whether it is completely tasks earlier, working extra hours before you go, renegotiating deadlines, organising extra resources etc)
  • Identify if any of your Manager and/or other team members have planned leave at the same time that may cause a problem (I was recently speaking to an employee who had their leave request refused as another member of their team had already planned leave at that time…. Therefore keep that in mind and get in early!)
How To Stay Focused When Working From Home

How to Stay Focused Working from Home

If you are fortunate enough to be able to work from home you may struggle to stay focused sometimes. The home environment is where most of us spend the majority of our leisure time. Therefore, working from home warrants some rules to help you to get the work done in the shortest amount of time without major interference on you or your families personal lives.

Here are some suggestions to stay focused when working from home:

  • Set Work Goals – determine what you need to get done within a set period of time. This allows you to prioritise and concentrate on delivering a task.
  • Create a Work Space – ensure that your work space meets health and safety standards and that you are creating an environment around you to concentrate and complete your work. Ideally, if you have a study/spare room occupy that, this will be easier for you to set up and close off from the rest of your home. Other considerations when selecting a work space include lighting, temperature, noise and other uses of that space.
  • Turn Off Distractions – it is very easy to slip into your normal routine of being at home and doing what you normally do, for example watching TV, listening to music, playing with the dog. A general rule I use, if I wouldn’t normally work with that distraction, then why start now? For example, I work better with no noise, but sometimes music is good for tasks that don’t require as much mental energy, then I will put music on. If possible, you should try minimise all of the common distractions if possible e.g. television, radio, washing machine, dryer, pets and other people interrupting. On that last point, it is critical to consider that you aren’t the only person that uses the space, therefore be conscious of the movements of others in your home and how you can work together to structure your work so that you can work from home effectively with inconveniencing others.

No Longer Pursuing Interests That Make You Happy?

I think at different points in our lives, life can get a bit out of control and all of a sudden, you’re working more than 50+ hours per week and no longer pursuing the interests that make you happy. Common reasons for this, is lack of time and energy and unless you dramatically change your working arrangements (as outlined in a previous post) there are a few other suggestions we can make to help you start feeling fulfilled by following your interests again.

I remember only two years ago, I turned into the adult worker that I always swore as an active teenager I wouldn’t – one that was too tired at the end of the day to do any exercise…. I was very annoyed at myself (to say the least!) as having been a very active person all of my life, this was definitely not what I was committed too. Now I exercise twice a week, a major improvement on doing nothing two years ago.

It was VERY hard to get started and for anyone who is looking to take up interests again or for the first time that make you happy, I offer the following tips to help you to make it happen:

Employee Assistance Program EAP Common User Questions

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Common User Questions

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential counselling service that is offered to staff members of an organisation. This is a worthwhile initiative to assist with issues that individuals may face in their life where they may require some external assistance. EAPs also remove the financial burden and hassle trying to locate such services for themselves. Here are some common user questions that arise when employees consider accessing their EAP.

How much will it cost me?
EAPs are generally negotiated by an organisation to include a certain number of free counselling sessions for their staff members. The organisation pays, therefore there is no cost to the employees should they only access that set number of sessions.

What if I need more sessions then are allocated?
Employees have two options if they have utilised all of their free sessions. Firstly, if they are comfortable, they can speak with their Manager and/or Human Resources to see if they can possibly arrange for the organisation to pay for additional sessions. You may or may not want to do this, depending on if you wish to discuss the reason for your visits with your employer. I have seen this be the case in a number of employers, when a staff members has been going through a difficult time and their free sessions were up, the organisation paid for the extra sessions needed to help support their employee. The second option is to fund the additional sessions yourself should you not wish to involve your employer, therefore it may be worth speaking with the EAP provider or your Doctor to determine costs.

Suggestions-To-Manage-Your-Workload-and-Absence

Stressed Before Going On Leave? Suggestions To Manage Your Workload & Absence

Leave can be a refreshing period away from work. I’m sure we have all experienced at one time or another that the lead up to a break can unfortunately be a very stressful time. It’s often to the point that you’re thinking, “is it really worth it”?

We’ve pulled together some ideas to help you to prepare for leave, that will hopefully improve your ability to switch off and enjoy the well-deserved break.

  • What do you need to achieve before you start your leave? Write a list of all of the tasks that you need to complete before you go.
  • Prioritise tasks so that the most urgent and important items are covered off. Ensuring that those items that you are procrastinating on that need to be completed also make it onto the list.
  • Put together a plan on when these tasks will be performed and as a suggestion, block out time in your diary for tasks to be completed.
  • Put in place as many plans as you can to minimise the chance you’ll be called upon during your leave. Let your key stakeholders know well in advance and prepare file notes or a hand over to help through the transition. If you’re handing over work to someone, try and do this sooner than the last week if possible. This will allow time for information to be absorbed and for the other person to start completing the task whilst you’re still there just in case any questions or issues arise. (Also this will help minimise the chance of a rushed hand over at 4:30pm on your last day!)
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