Four ways to make the most of working from home
- 19 March 2020
Home working is suddenly becoming a reality for many office workers. For seasoned freelancers, it is already a way of life. Following their advice could help make your own transition as seamless as possible…
1. Separate your spaces
Without the morning jolt of a commute, it’s all too easy to reach for your phone or laptop from bed, download emails and start picking off the low-hanging fruit before you’ve had breakfast. Veteran home workers will invariably tell you that’s a mistake. In the early days, there might be some quick wins for you, but they will come with a long-term toll. Your bed belongs to your home life and it should stay there, as a place of sanctuary, not somewhere you start to associate with crisis-managing frantic customers.
If your home layout allows, the ideal set-up is one with a workspace that’s separate from the rest of your home. Through the day, you’ll be better able to concentrate on your work – because at home no distraction is ever too small to ignore – and, when the time comes, you’ll find it easier to switch off. One extra pro tip: put your desk next to a window – the vitamin D and mood-enhancing qualities of any sunlight are invaluable.
2.Stick to your schedule
Speaking of time, it can be as helpful to segment your days as it is your spaces. You want to keep interruptions to your working day to a minimum, so ask anyone you live with to respect your home-office hours. On the flip side, once those hours are up, you have to respect the clock. It might be tempting to transfer the time you’re saving on your commute into extra work time, but your mind and body won’t thank you for that. Turning on automatic email replies at, say, 6pm every day will help establish your boundaries in the minds of contacts, colleagues and bosses.
3. Embrace technology
Auto-responses aren’t your only tech friend in these new surrounds. Instant messenger services such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts can speed decision-making among remote workforces and, from a human point of view, the more light-hearted chatter they encourage can reduce feelings of loneliness. If you’re a manager, set up regular check-ins with your team to ensure everyone is coping with the change. Bear in mind these might have to increase in frequency to negate the loss of regular face-to-face interactions, but don’t be afraid to experiment with the rhythm and consistency until you find a pattern that works for your team.
4. Embrace the freedom
Your new workspace might not be purpose built, but it does have some advantages. Music? No music? Unlike in the office, where decisions are made by committee, the choice is yours. And your lunchtime options now extend far beyond damp supermarket sandwiches. Be sure to give yourself the full hour to conjure some culinary magic in a kitchen that hopefully offers more than the microwave and kettle back at headquarters. Being creative in this way can help to break up days that can sometimes feel repetitive when you’re out of the usual office environment. In short, settle in and make yourself at home.
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