Working from home for the first time? Here is some timely
advice from an industry that has been doing this for years.
The circumstances surrounding the move of whole nations to
home offices are appalling, surreal and catastrophic, and we are reminded of
the disaster of Covid-19 at every moment of the day. But here we are. Trying to get work done with
children, pets and so many distractions.
The I.T. sector have been working from home for some time. We got this. So, here is our quick guide to
surviving the home office.
Make an Office Space Even if it is the small cupboard in the back bedroom, it is important to make a designated office spot. If it has to be in a shared room such as the living room or kitchen, then turn your back on the room and make a working desk space wherever you are.
Time Scheduling Working from home can offer a lot more flexibility. So, you may be able to decide the hours that suit you, your family and of course, your employer. Some night owls are more productive in the wee hours of the night, while some larks are up and singing in the morning. Working remotely can be more productive when you hone the working hours to suit.
Zoom, Skype and conference calling This is the time when everyone will discover that we never needed all those meetings, but phone calls, emails, conference calls and group chats could get the job done too. Learn about the best non-direct forms of communication are that will suit your working life. Zoom, Skype and face timing also take away the isolation factor that some people feel when working away from a busy office.
Office Chairs Don’t skimp on a good chair. It really is the difference between a good day’s work and a good day of torture! If you are only temporarily working from home, and your office chair is sitting lonely and unused someplace else, then it might be time to negotiate relocating it to your house for the moment! Your back will thank you for years to come.
Internet A good internet connection is absolutely essential. If yours is not great, then don’t expect good connection while the kids are streaming Netflix. When your broadband is slow, it’s all too easy to assume the fault lies with your provider. But that’s not always the case. Test your speed here. It is one of the most frustrating things about home office working, but even this can be tackled, by downloading large files during the night and working on them offline. If your internet is great, it doesn’t even register, but if you are one of the few people hanging off the wardrobe in the back bedroom trying to get a signal, then it is truly a head wreck. There are things that you can do to improve connectivity, speed and signal. Check these options.
The joy of great Headphones and Headsets Essential equipment for home- working. Whether you are taking and making calls with the headphones, or listening to some good sounds while working, they are a real life saver when working from home. They assist in keeping the concentration and focus on the work in hand and of course, there is the added advantage that you won’t hear the children squabbling and the dog howling. Trust us, headphones are a must!
Taking Breaks. Do take your normal break times but be aware that this is a danger time for the home-worker. If you are a ‘cleanaphobe’, then don’t look at the dirty windows. If you were in work, you wouldn’t even see them. If you are a newshound… don’t turn on the TV, the distraction will take you out of your work zone. Don’t pop on to social media for a minute or two, or you will be sucked into the system and might not emerge intact and focussed for an hour or more! Do make a hot drink, play with the cat and relieve whoever is childminding. Time the break and be tough on yourself about getting back to the work.
Children, Pets and other distractions This is the toughest barrier to successful home working and especially at a time when childcare is not an option. This is also where the flexibility of your work can save you. If you can get an hour of work done before wee human beings get up or after they have gone to sleep, then steal that hour and make the best use of it. Don’t try to keep working while a child needs attention. It just wont work. If you have a partner, then you can break the day into work hours for each of you. If you are alone managing children, then just do the best you can and let your manager know that there is an issue, before it gets too bad. These are difficult times and a level of understanding is required from us all. Pets too can be a huge distraction. The delight at finding their human home all day may mean a soggy ball dropped in your lap every five minutes or the chair leg scratched continually (this can happen with children too, but it’s a whole other problem!) Having your office away from the daily routine is the ideal for avoiding distractions.
Working from home can be very rewarding. Your daily commute is less than a minute. You
can work in comfier clothes (no, not pyjamas) Some household tasks like filling
the washing machine can be done at lunch times and you get to spend more time
with your family. (Yes, that is a
positive!) With a sensible approach and a degree of flexibility, working
remotely can be very successful. It takes the same traits we need to face all
of these new challenges. Resilience, adaptability and a good sense of humour.