Sometimes working from home becomes a necessity and for those who are not used to the idea, it can come as quite a change. Working from home may sound like a grand notion at first. You can say goodbye to the commute and stay at home with all of its luxuries – such as a convenient home lift perhaps. However, there are a number of things to consider. Working in an office or workplace environment provides all sorts of reassuring routines and boundaries that are conducive to productivity. So, when those are taken away, things can become tricky at first. To help you adjust, we have put together a collection of top tips for working from home, providing you with advice to make the process as smooth as possible.
Create a workspace
When working from home, it’s important that you create a specific space for working in and not just operate from the sofa – or worse yet, your bed. This will help you get into a productive frame of mind and also eliminate other distractions. This is a top tip from Laura from the culture and travel blog What’s Hot? Laura often works from home and shared this advice with us: “Ideally you’ll have a separate room or corner that can be your designated work from home area so there’s a physical separation between your workspace and relaxation space. This won’t be possible for everyone but at the very least you should keep your work gear out of the bedroom.”
Once you are finished working for the day, make sure to tidy your work things away. If you can put them out of sight, all the better, as then you will not be constantly reminded of work when lounging about the house on evenings and weekends.
Get dressed for work
It can be quite tempting to not get dressed at all and work in your dressing gown or pyjamas every day – many think this is one of the biggest perks of working from home. However, this can have negative ramifications mentally. Successfully working from home is all about recreating that office mindset, allowing you to retain your normal productivity. How we dress is linked to this, so it’s a good idea to try and get dressed for work each day, even if you are not going to leave the house.
Make a daily schedule
When working from home, it’s not uncommon to feel a little aimless and for your day to become unstructured. Make sure to combat this, however, by creating for yourself a daily schedule. This doesn’t need to be anything too in-depth, just a simple to-do list of tasks and objectives that you can tick off as you accomplish them.
Also consider expanding your schedule to encompass your entire working day, developing a routine that can help recreate that feeling of going to work. Don’t just simply roll out of bed at 8.55am. Jem, who runs a self-titled lifestyle blog, spoke to us about her working from home tips and says that she finds creating a schedule and routine very helpful:
“For me personally, keeping to a rough routine is crucial for working from home. I still get up at 7am, stretch, shower and dress if I were working outside of the home. I know some people make the most of home working by working from their bed, or in pyjamas, but this impacts my productivity. I do break up my working day with domestic chores, but this gives a much-needed keyboard break.”
Stay in touch with colleagues
It’s important not to become isolated when working from home, which is easier said than done. During your time in the office, you will likely be bouncing ideas off each other and collaborating on tasks and projects – not to mention the friendly camaraderie you get from working with others.
Not being in the office or around colleagues each day can create a sense of detachment that is not good for your mental state or productivity.
So, make sure to stay in touch with colleagues when working from home, this can be done via phone calls, instant messaging services, video chats, and virtual team meetings. There are a number of wonderful apps and programmes that can help facilitate this – such as Microsoft Teams.
When working from home, it’s easy to lose the regular routine of office/workplace life, which includes lunch and tea breaks. Taking regular breaks is especially important when you are working in front of a screen all day, helping to protect your eyes and concentration.
Laura from What’s Hot? suggests: “Give yourself as many breaks as you would during a normal office day and actually step away from your laptop during this time. Don’t just sit in front of your screen aimlessly scrolling for 15 minutes. Get up, walk around the house, make a fresh pot of tea and enjoy it away from your workspace. Take a full hour for lunch away from your screen if you can as it’s all too easy to just sit in front of your screen all day, which is rather unproductive and unhealthy.”
Stick to regular working hours
It can be tempting to forsake regular working hours when working from home. Your normal work routine has been thrown into disarray by being outside of the workplace, meaning that it’s easy to work way into the evening or be checking emails way into the night. Avoid this if at all possible. Stick to your regular working hours or create some if you don’t have any. For example, when it hits 5.30pm, turn off your computer and call it a day. Not allowing yourself to have personal time to unwind is bad for your health and can negatively impact your work.
Be open about childcare
Some of us will have an extra consideration to confront when working from home. Parents might be in a position where not only are they working from home, but their children are with them all day. This can create some obvious challenges. Try creating a schedule with your spouse that allows you both to get work done while someone looks after the kids. Most importantly, speak to your employer and let them know the situation. They might be able to be more flexible with your working hours and offer some solutions. You can also consider utilising childcare services during working hours.
Jem offered some advice for parents working at home while caring for children: “As I’ve been working from home around my children for nearly eight years now, and in particular for a period of time as a single parent, the one thing that has consistently helped me over that time is lowering my expectations. It is absolutely not possible to have a productive eight-hour workday AND care for (or educate, during these difficult times!) children and maintain domestic bliss.
“I very quickly learned to accept that sometimes my children have to have a bit more screen time than I would like, sometimes the house looks like a hurricane has blown through, and sometimes I need to catch up on work in the evenings. It’s a lot less stressful to accept this, rather than fight it.”
Decompress at the end of the day
When the day is done and you have finished working, it’s a good idea to take a moment before moving into the evening. After you’ve shut down your computer and tidied away your workspace, have a seat somewhere comfortable and take a breath. It’s important to have a moment or two where you can decompress, reflect, and put the day behind you. You no longer have the journey home in which to do this so creating this time at home is key. Otherwise, you might find it difficult to unwind and still be thinking about work when trying to relax or spend time with your family.
Laura from What’s Hot? stresses this is of key importance, especially for those who don’t have a home office, advising that you “create a sort of end of work ‘ritual’ that means you’ve signed off for the day. Shut down your laptop (don’t just close the lid), go outside for a short walk, have a little stretch, do a home workout, meditate etc. Anything that disconnects your mind from what you’ve just been working on will do and then you can get on with your evening with a fresh mindset.”
Advice and tips for working from home
- Create a workspace
- Get dressed for work
- Make a daily schedule
- Stay in touch with colleagues
- Take breaks
- Stick to regular working hours
- Be open about childcare
- Decompress at the end of the day
We hope the above tips prove useful for your time working from home. By following the advice in this article, you can create a working environment that replicates normal work-life as best as possible and still be able to enjoy home life.
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