Top 10 tips for working from home
With much of the UK either under lockdown or working under restrictions, many more people are again working from home.
For a lot of freelancers, this may mean little has changed for them, however, if you are new to home working or felt it didn't work well for you last time, we've compiled some helpful tips to make the process a more productive and pleasant experience.
- Work to regular hours. Staying to your regular working hours will help you retain focus and some semblance of a work/life balance. Although one of the key benefits of home working is flexibility, changing your working day can quickly lead to other distractions and working evenings or weekends to catch up.
- Make ground rules with others. If you have family members or are living within a house share, let them know your working times and ask for no interruptions. This can be difficult if you are now at home with young children, look for tasks, activities or hobbies you can set them during times you need quiet to work.
- Find your own space. Not everyone has a spare room or office at home to work from, create your own set area that others know is your workspace. This could be a small table in the living room, a corner of the kitchen table, or even a lap table. If possible do not have this space in your bedroom.
- Make sure you have all you need. If you are suddenly made to work from home you need to qualify everything you need to successfully do your job productively from home, if you do not have this your employer should supply this. Also discuss with your employer how these items will be insured in case of theft or damage, as well as asking about their Cybersecurity policies.
- Keep in touch with your employer and workmates. Make sure you are attending all necessary meetings and briefings. It can be easy to lose information when working remotely, especially when organisations are not used to working in this way. You can feel isolated away from your network and colleagues, this can lead to drops in productivity but also your self-esteem in your workplace. Ask if there are any social events set up to keep in touch with colleagues, it's important to keep up social and fun events.
- Take your sick days. If you are not well due to Covid or otherwise, please tell your employer and take off the time you need. You are still entitled to sick leave even if you are working from home, you may feel you need to power through, but often it is better to fully rest and come back strong.
- Take your breaks. As you would at work take a break away from your screen, using something like Pomodoro productivity app is a great way to set out short bursts of activity. Take time away from your screen at lunchtime, sit and watch an episode of your favourite program, complete a mindfulness session, or walk the dog; make sure you take your full lunchtime.
- Look for extra opportunities. Working from home may lead to fewer opportunities for training and skills development in your company. Ask what training will be made available to you or what online conferences you can attend. Do not let home working hold you back from career opportunities and advancement.
- Over-communicate your actions. Working remotely can easily lead to miscommunication across departments, as people can take the meaning of online messages differently. Setting up easy to use comms channels through either the company's internal system or through platforms such as Slack can greatly help. As with setting your boundaries with housemates and family make sure you set up time limits for notifications on these platforms. Tell everyone who needs to know it your working hours, availability, and the projects you are working on.
- Don't be hard on yourself if you struggle. If you have not worked from home before or have and are still finding it difficult, it is okay to admit to this. You are being asked to manage your work in unconventional times, in an unconventional way and place; cut yourself some slack. If you are struggling with the situation speak up, ask your employer if there is any mental health or other support available. You need to find a balance between your own self-care and productivity, and ignoring this could lead to burnout which will negatively affect both your employer and yourself.