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31st March, 2020
If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home at the moment, the following wisdom should enable you to stay productive!
With global health being the way it is, limiting your contact to the outside world may be a pain but is increasingly necessary as the situation progresses. No cold-ridden colleagues to shake off at your crib! No coughing clients or congested commuters to contend with either. Your protective palace is the place to be, and if you can accomplish your professional projects in your pyjamas, then power to you!
There are definitely some pitfalls to avoid and some good advice to abide by when getting the job done at home. So, here’s a few do’s and don’ts to make sure your productivity doesn’t plummet and your quality, and well-being, stays tip-top!
This is probably obvious to most, but when you’re trying very hard to keep your head in work mode, it can be easy to forget you’re not actually in the office!
Make yourself as comfortable as possible – if you feel more at home at your desk, then rock the desk. If you’re more comfortable, and just as capable, on a laptop on your sofa, then by all means! There’s no need to squirrel yourself away in the dining room until clock-out.
Furthermore, don’t forget you’re in control of your atmosphere too! If you can work with music, enjoy being the DJ for the day!
This may sound a little daft, but it’s important. One of the biggest struggles people face when adjusting to working from home is the overlap of your home life and work life – it can be very tempting to keep them as separate as possible, to ensure your mind is on exactly what it needs to be. But the reality of it is this – it’s not going to stay separate, no matter how hard you try! Work is already in your home, and there’s no avoiding it. You’ll do much better if you embrace the advantages this offers early, and you’ll soon see the pros can outweigh the cons. Just keep that TV off!
If you have a morning ritual you follow during your work week, try to keep to it. What I mean is, try to wake up at the same you normally would and do all the normal prep stuff you’d be doing a normal day! Shower/Coffee/Newspaper/Yoga/Walk the dog. This might not make sense on the face of it – surely, if you’re working from home a lazy morning is one of the perks!? Your commute is just walking to the PC and flicking it on, right? Well, yes – but also, your routine became a routine for a reason! These are the steps you take every day to prepare for a day on the job, so your brain is used to these steps preceding your workday. Keeping to it can make sure you’re in the right head space when you need to get down to business, whilst skipping it can make it hard to get your brain into gear for the task at hand. Never underestimate the power of a habit!
One of the reasons we all go to the office every day rather than clocking in at home is the social-professional nature of a communal workspace. I mean sure, most of my day to day stuff I can do at home anyway, but I’d be missing out on a lot – there’s a convenience to having your colleagues within yelling distance to check things with, to ask favours or even just to chat to keep you fresh between tasks. If there’s a meeting called or an announcement to make, everyone’s already in the same place and on the same page. And of course, it’s much easier for management to deal with one room of people than a dozen or more teammates remoting in!
Naturally, you lose a lot of this when you’re at home, so it’s key to make sure you compensate as much as you can. Set up an office group chat or skype call and check in regularly. Keep your line manager abreast of what you’re up to and reassure them that you’re on task. If there’s one thing any manager hates, it’s keeping tabs on people, so try to make it as easy on them as possible. They’ll thank you, and so will you when you don’t have a rabid manager on your tail when you haven’t reported in for a while!
This is a big one – you might be at home, but you’re still on the clock!
Try not to fall into the sticky trap of behaving like it’s time off with extra steps. Between your normal start and end times, you’re on company time. Try to work as you ordinarily would during these hours, taking breaks and lunch at the usual times and for the usual amount of time. There might not be a boss waiting to question you if you’re late back from your lunch, but there are still consequences! If your brain gets into weekend or holiday mode when there’s stuff to do, it’ll only get harder to muster the enthusiasm to get stuff finished. And plus, if you’re slacking, it can be very easy to tell. Your quality slips and your output will become slower – all things that a manager will be able to see! Make sure you have something to show for your time out of office, or it might not be a privilege extended to you again.
For my last point, I’ve got a little something for you over-achievers out there – if your office closes at five, log off at five! In a similar vein to my previous point, try and keep it to office hours. It can be very tempting, especially if you work on commission or are trying to get ahead of a deadline, to take advantage of not being in office by making your home your office full-time. Don’t you do it! This is more for the sake of your wellbeing than your professional life. Work/life balance can be a delicate thing, and when some of the variables are changed it can throw the whole balance out of whack -affecting everything in ways you didn’t even see coming.
Of course, whatever you do in your free time is your own business – but always be aware of how the different elements of your life interact and affect each other! If you’re burning the midnight oil, you could be negatively impacting your family by prioritising work, and of course we all know that a tumultuous home life can have disastrous effects on work.
It’s a balance, it’s a cycle. Everything affects everything, and office hours are standard now for a reason! They work! Keep it professional, keep everyone happy – keep it to 9 -5.
When put into practice all these hints and tips should help you sail through these murky unfamiliar waters. However, if something doesn’t work for you, change it, try something new. Only you can determine what works best for you and helps you work your best.
Above all else be kind to yourself. We are all struggling to find a new normal and adjust to our current situation. Don’t expect it all to be easy. It’s a great time to reflect and if at this time helps you come to the conclusion that your current job is not for you, or that working from home is something you want to do permanently, get in touch and we can steer you in the right direction.