Blog post

How to (productively) work from home

Over the next few weeks, there is a high possibility that you will be working from home. Whether it is because you are in “self-imposed isolation” or because your workplace has decided to close its doors. Coronavirus is about to test out our flexible work arrangements across the economy.

When people find out my house is my main place of work, a lot of them say “I couldn’t do it.” There are a lot of reasons – too many distractions, not enough structure, worried about the boss thinking you’re not doing anything. Here is the thing, if you do it right working from home is actually much more productive than being in an office.

My office at home

After 18 months, I have found a few tips and tricks to working from home. Now seems like the right time to share them.

  1. Get ready for your day – Get up and get ready like you would for work. Have breakfast, have a shower, get dressed and get ready for your day. DO NOT stay in your PJs, DO NOT turn on Netflix. Be clear from the outset this is a workday. Log on at your regular time and be available on the phone in the same hours you would normally be in the office.
  2. Set your intentions – Have a plan for what you will achieve today. Share it with your boss if it will make you feel better about their expectations or to hold yourself accountable. If I am working from home I will send my client an email first thing in the morning outlining what they can expect to see from me by the end of the day. At the end of the day, I’ll send an “end of day” email with a summary of what I worked on.
  3. Have an “office” space – Don’t sit on the lounge or in bed to work. Make a designated area your workspace. It could be the dining table or a dedicated study but make it somewhere that you can leave. Remember that you won’t have your proper chair or desk setup – WHS yourself! Do you need books under your computer? A higher chair? Regular breaks? Check with your employer to see if they have any tips!
  4. Make a plan – Write up a plan for your day, when will you have lunch, when will you do exercise. Break your day down into hours and know when you will work on different pieces of work. Set a clear start and finish time, you would be surprised how long you can work if you don’t need to get up to go home.
  5. Be kind to yourself – It’s ok to stop to make a cup of tea, put on a load of washing, make lunch or talk to someone on the phone. You would normally do small things during the day that are not work-related, don’t beat yourself up over the small stuff. Don’t spend an hour cleaning the kitchen, leave that to the weekend when you would normally do it.
  6. Even better, treat yourself – The benefit of being at home is that you can give yourself a little treat. Make a pot of nice tea, rather than using your normal tea bag, make yourself lunch, sit outside to do some reading. Make it nicer than being in the office!

Working “remotely” is now completely possible. Use the software and technology that is available to you:

  • talk to colleagues/clients on Facetime or Zoom so you still get to interact with people
  • save everything into your records management system so others can access your documents
  • collaborate on documents using GoogleDocs or your similar system (don’t forget to check the security classification first!)
  • set up a team document where you can share priorities on Slack or Trello
  • do some online training you have been meaning to do for ages, use Lynda on LinkedIn or your inhouse system.

A final note, working from home is about trust. Your employer, boss or clients trust that when you are working from home, you are working. Don’t jeopardise that by slacking off.

Good luck! I’m always here on email if you need human contact – feel free to reach out.

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