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Nine key steps to working from home

Mar 20, 2020
Working from home has become necessary for many people due to COVID-19. But how can you manage when it comes to working remotely? Eric Fitzpatrick gives us nine tips on how to successfully work remotely without going stir-crazy or losing productivity.

The Coronavirus is forcing organisations and workforces to reconsider their current work practices. Non-essential travel has been cancelled, events are being postponed or moved to online platforms and companies and organisations have their staff work remotely from home.  

At first glance, working from home can be appealing, but there is a downside to it as well. As someone who has worked from home for more than ten years, the following are worth noting when it comes to remote working. 

1. Discipline

 The key to working at home is discipline. Be clear about what time you will start and finish. Agree these times with your organisation. You might have more flexibility with your hours than you would in your office but it’s important to be clear about your hours.
Build in the times and duration of your breaks. Know that you’ll take a break at 11am for 15 minutes. If you’re not disciplined, 15 minutes could easily become 30 minutes or longer. 

2. Get dressed

If how you dress is too casual, how you work might be, too. Wear work clothes. Working from home might mean dressing as you would for casual Friday in the office, but dressing for work gets you in the frame of mind for work. 

3. Designate a workspace 

If you have a home office where you can close the door behind you at the end of the day, great. If not, work from a space where you must be clear at the end of the work day, such as the family dining table. By removing access to the workspace, you remove the temptation to go back to work for a couple of hours in the evening. 

4. Work in a room that is bright and airy

Working in a dark office with no natural light can reduce productivity and enjoyment. 
Create a tidy workspace and an environment that is conducive to effective working. Have a place for everything and place only that which you will need in that workspace.

5. Ditch your mobile

Be without your mobile for as much as possible, if not needed for work. Leave it in another room if you’re working on a project from which you don’t want to be interrupted. You can lose up to an hour a day picking up your phone to check social media platforms. Remove the temptation.   

6. Skip the chores

During your working day, don’t put on a wash, do the weekly shopping, vacuum, change the bed covers, paint the kitchen or replace that lock. You’re being paid to work, not to get ahead of the housework.  

7. Keep healthy 

If you walk or cycle to work, working from home takes away the opportunity to get that exercise. Can you make time elsewhere to get in some activity? Your kitchen will probably be closer to your workspace that the office canteen is to your office desk. It can be very tempting to take 10 seconds to walk to the kitchen to grab a snack. Working from home, you might find yourself doing less exercise and eating more – a bad combination. Try to manage your activity levels and snack time.

8. Don’t go stir-crazy 

Working from home can take a bit of getting used to. You go from working in a busy, noisy office to working in quiet isolation. At first, it seems great, then slowly the walls start to close in. The silence becomes too loud and you find you need people to interact with. Don’t go more than two days without speaking to colleagues or clients. Design your calendar to ensure you have regular contact with the outside world. 

9. Turn on the radio

Music can be a positive contribution to an effective workspace at home. Played in the background, it can replace the noise of the office and remove some of the quiet isolation. 

Working from home can increase productivity, improve your quality of life and may become necessary for many people over the coming weeks or months. Knowing how to manage it can make it as successful as possible.  

Eric Fitzpatrick is owner of ARK Speaking and Training.