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 include:
- 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.
- Create a productive working environment. Not only do you want to look at your working space, but it’s important to create a productive working environment. Do you have good lighting? Is your chair comfortable? Is it quiet or do you have music you can play that will make you more productive? One of the greatest benefits working from home unlike the office where generally your office/work location is already determined for you is that you get to set up a space conducive to your working style. This can significantly boost your productivity (and of course if not done well can significantly reduce your productivity).
- Let your colleagues know when you’re working. One of the perks of working from home sometimes is your ability to have flexibility when you can complete the work. It is important to communicate this with your Manager, colleagues or customers so that they are aware when you will be contactable or when you will be able to get back to them. I would encourage if you can creating a routine and setting up voicemail, email signature and out of offices to indicate these times, to help manage expectations when you will respond to enquiries.
- Communicate with your house mates or loved ones. Most of us live with others, whether it’s your partner, your kids, family or house mates. You need to be mindful of the impact of you working from home on them and the impact they will have on you working from home. This can be a very fine line and with good open communication about how it will work and addressing issues that may arises will really assist the success of this arrangement.
- Schedule work for productivity. I wrote an article “When Is Your Most Productive Time of the Day” and received terrific feedback from it. As most of us need to work about 8 hours per day, we need to understand when our peak times are and when our non-peak times are that we can allocate more mundane tasks too. You’ll have outcomes you’ll need to achieve, so by maximising these time in the day or night where you are most productive, will help you to get more done.
- Separate work and home. Our modern age means that sometimes we can be contactable 24 hours a day, seven days a week and you can easily get in a habit of checking work emails or having work calls outside of traditional hours. Sometimes this is necessary, however watch yourself when it is blurring with your personal life. If your family or loved ones around you are complaining that you’re working too much, or put that phone away and stop checking your emails, it may be time to take a look at this. Technology can make it easier for work and personal lives to merge, but remember to be your responsibility to manage your greatest commodity…. Time.