Working from home definitely has its perks. Not only can you save some serious cash when you cut out commuting, but it’s also an opportunity to design our work schedules to suit ourselves and our family.
With our homes now also serving as our offices, they are more important than ever before. Spare bedrooms are being converted to home offices, and DIY is on the increase as we strive to ensure our homes work for us on a practical level as we transition daily from work to home life in one space.
However, as many of us are now well aware, working from home is not always a walk in the park. With distractions around every corner and limited opportunities to collaborate with a team, lack of motivation and productivity are common pitfalls for many remote workers.
Whether you’re new to the working from home lifestyle or just struggling to make it work for you, we’ve compiled an extensive list of top tips to help you work from home effectively.
20 tips for effective home working
Create a dedicated office space – Not having a dedicated space in your home when working remotely is one of the most popular complaints we hear as estate agents. The kitchen table might be the most obvious place to set up a home office, but with distractions galore, it’s not going to be the most productive of spaces. If a spare room is not a luxury, you have to transform it into a dazzling study, try carving out a disused corner of a room and consider screening it off to create yourself a calm and quiet area to help you stay focussed when your diary is jam-packed.
Use a company VPN – Many companies have their own VPN networks for employees to access internal files and documents, so you’ll need to ensure you can connect to this. Using a VPN is also a lot safer if you are working on a network that you don’t control.
Set boundaries – Distractions are not ideal when you’re trying to work from home, so if you find your family encroaching on your workday, setting boundaries with them is a must. All it takes is a quick conversation to let everyone know that when you’re working, you’re not to be disturbed.
Keep things tidy – We know this is easier said than done, but a tidy workspace does make for a tidy mind, even if it just means spending five minutes each day decluttering to help you stay focussed.
Get ready for work – There’s nothing wrong with staying in your comfy clothes when you’re working from home. However, if you struggle to get yourself into the working frame of mind, you might benefit from getting dressed for work, as if you were going into the office. You also won’t have to dash for a quick clothes change before that team Zoom call.
Make a plan – A popular recommendation from successful business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide is the simple act of making a daily plan. A quick and easy way to double your productivity levels, this is a particularly useful task for those of us out there struggling to adapt to working from home. Just spending a few minutes at the end of each day planning your diary will save you bags of time and help your stay organised.
Set morning and evening routines – When you’re working from home, every day can be different and more than once a week, the unexpected will happen. If you’re struggling to structure your day, start by setting morning and evening routines. They should incorporate a mixture of exercise to energise you, activities that help you relax and some all-important “me time”.
Rise early – Waking up early isn’t for everyone, but if you use the time you usually spend commuting to start your workday that little bit earlier, imagine how much spare time you will have later in the day. Even if it’s to blast through emails, it should leave you with time to work on that project you keep putting off or enjoy some quality time with family.
Set a time to end your workday – It might be tempting to carry on working for that extra hour longer than you usually would when you were working in the office, but establishing an effective working from home life is all about structure. Something you won’t achieve if you carry on working long into the evening every day.
Use a dedicated work number – Ensuring you have a separate work number will help you keep a healthy work/life balance. You may already have a work mobile but if not, try using a free VoIP service or Skype to make business calls.
Find your productivity peak – We all have different times of day when we’re most productive and if you know when yours is, utilise it! If you’re on top form during the evenings, use it to tackle your most challenging work projects that need your full attention.
Communication is key – Maintaining contact when we’re not working with our colleagues face-to-face is key when working from home. It might feel like overkill to let everyone know our daily schedule or how a project is progressing, but if it means that your team know when’s the best time, get in touch for a catch up instead of phoning just before you pop out to walk the dog, it’ll all be worth it.
Socialise – Just because you’re working remotely from your colleagues, it doesn’t mean you can’t socialise. Always try to attend company meetings where you can keep in touch with colleagues and make an effort to go along to social events, whether virtual or a physical get together.
Go outside – Even if it’s for a walk or to sit in your garden for half an hour. Spending some time outside every day, particularly when we’re bogged down with work, helps to clear the mind and gain a new perspective before getting back to the job at hand.
Hide distractions – As we mentioned earlier, distractions are lurking everywhere around our homes, ready to sap all our attention when we’re working from home. If this sounds all too familiar, it’s probably high time you made an effort to hide those devilish distractions away. If social media is your downfall, why not install an app such as Offtime to stop you scrolling when you need to focus.
Discover inspiring content – Whether you spend 10 minutes reading a blog or listening to a podcast, filling your day with inspiring content is ideal for motivating yourself when working from home.
Take regular breaks – Just because you’re working remotely with all the comforts of your home to enjoy daily, it doesn’t mean you should skip taking frequent breaks. Some well-deserved time out throughout your working day will help you reflect on your current task at hand, whether you spend 10 minutes enjoying a cup of tea or use it to put the washing on.
Seek support from your employer – Whether you have recently started working from home or have been doing so for a while now, your employer has a right to support your working needs, just as they would be expected to do so when you’re in the office. If you don’t have a work laptop or need a suitable chair to ensure good posture whilst working remotely, don’t hesitate to ask. Most organisations have budgets for these requirements already in place.
Embrace learning opportunities – When you’re in an office, it’s easy to ask for help when needed and attend training sessions. However, if you start working from home more often or permanently, training and support can sometimes slip through the net. Speak to your employer if you would like them to arrange extra training at work or if you come across a course that you feel may support you in your work role.
Don’t over cram your day – It’s a common assumption to assume that you will have loads more time available to get through your work because you are working from home. However, just as it can happen at the office, unexpected emails and phone calls will occur. Therefore, it’s always best to allow yourself some leeway in your working day and don’t expect too much of yourself!
To summarise, working from home is all about figuring out what works for you. You might find it hard, to begin with, and setting the proper routine will be a learning curve. When you learn to work from home effectively, your house will be transformed into a flexible living space. One that will act as the perfect chill zone during your time off and keep you motivated whilst you’re working 9-5!
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