According to the ONS Labour Force Survey, I’m one of over 1.5 million people in the UK that already work from home. But, due to the coronavirus pandemic that number is set to skyrocket for an indefinite period of time.
Who can work from home?
Many “hands-on” workers like nurses, shop keepers or tradesman can’t work entirely from home. However, many jobs have a significant element of administration, meeting clients/suppliers and using a computer or phone.
How much time do you spend on tasks that just need a computer, a phone and an internet connection? All these tasks can be done remotely from home.
How to work from home
Thanks to technology we can do a lot of our work from home easily, or occasionally with little professional help. I predominantly use video conferencing apps, like Zoom, to hold meetings with my clients, which replaces face-to-face meetings really well.
A lot of company information is now held in a cloud storage system so it’s very easy for someone working from home to access accounting software and company files or folders. Your IT company should be able to help you access information on local servers with either a VPN or remote desktop connection. It’s also easy to divert a phone number or extension to mobile phones - just ask your telecom provider.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is not technological or practical, but a psychological one. Businesses get set in their ways and make sure people come into the office on time, because of that non-reason; “that’s how they have always done it”. Some of my friends have also been excited at the prospect of working from home expecting it to be like a holiday - and they’re in for a shock.
How to work productively from home
Take it from a home worker that had to switch from going to the office every day - it’s not easy. The increasingly blurred line between your work and personal life is just one of the challenges. Don’t get me wrong, I love working from home and it gives me great flexibility which I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice, but it did take time to adapt.
Make a workspace
Ideally this is a dedicated room where you can put a chair and desk; a spare room or that conservatory you barely ever use. Alternatively, set up a desk in a corner of a room or even occupy an end of the kitchen table.
DO NOT try and work where you relax, on the sofa or in front of the TV. You will get no work done, lose your “relax space” and end up with a bad back.
Be strict and take regular breaks
Set your alarm and get up as if you’re going to work, (you can skip making yourself presentable if you don’t have any video calls scheduled) and set your normal break, lunch and finish times. This will help you settle into a routine and leave work behind you in the evening.
You can still be flexible and get coffee with a friend, walk your dog etc, but shift around your allotted breaks or prepare to work a little later.
When you work from home you are usually in charge of your own working schedule. If you’ve been used to being managed closely this can be a difficult change. Make sure you set deadlines and adhere to them for every task. Applications like Asana are free, help you organise your work, deliver on time and avoid forgetting tasks.
Don’t get distracted
House chores, family members or that new series on Netflix can be hard to avoid. Try and keep distractions to a minimum and limit them to your break times. For me silence for me is distracting, so I like to have music or the news on in the background.
Get out (if you’re not self-isolating)
Make sure you go outside for a little walk or just to get some fresh air in the garden. Going outside before or after work or during your breaks will help you not feel trapped within your own four walls.
Most of you will love working from home and remember that if you can make a success of working from home, you may never have to go into the office again!