Working from home – it can be a love-hate relationship
Some people love it. Some people hate it. But working from home is here to stay so let’s look and the upside [and some downsides] to make the most of working without actually physically going into work.
Reading what seasoned ‘home workers’ have to say, there appears to be one clear message and that is to keep ‘home out of the work’ and ‘work out of home’ when working from home.
There needs to be a clearly defined line drawn between ‘being at home’ to ‘working at home.’
Try these 20 tips and see if they work for you.
Starting the day
1. Get up and get dressed – no working in your PJ’s, its crossing the home/work line.
2. Schedule daily activities so you know what you are going to achieve by day’s end.
You might be at home, but a structured working environment is important.
3. Plan the days intended work load including work breaks.
4. Don’t be afraid to move around the house/apartment during the day. For example if you have calls to make, sit is a sunny spot or pleasant view while you make the calls . You don’t need to be at the desk.
5. Don’t bring food to your desk, just drinks. Taking food to your desk creates a slippery slope of not taking proper breaks during the day. Food should be kept for break times in a room away from the desk.
Equipment and working environment
6. Set up a fully equipped and ergonomic workplace. Desk, chair, key board and monitor. Working on a laptop at the kitchen bench is a no-no.
7. Keep ergonomics in mind, and switch between positions often. Do an ergonomic check to ensure you can reach equipment comfortably. It helps both your mind and body.
8. Do an electrical safety check: electrical extension cords are trip hazards, piggy back plugs can burn the place down.
9. Make sure bandwidth is practical and not an inhibiter to productive working – you will finish up getting frustrated with poor bandwidth.
10. If you are working at home with other people in the house, invest in sound- blocking earplugs or earmuffs. They'll save your sanity and you need quiet to concentrate.
11. Set boundaries about ‘working from home’. Whether its kids, your partner, or your neighbours. Just because you work from home doesn't mean you're always available to do the shopping, put the oven on, throw in a load of washing, watch a sick child, or wait for the electrician. The key word is ‘working’ from home. It doesn’t mean these things shouldn’t be done, but if they are, work them into the formal daily schedule and keep a balance to allow work achievements to dominate, not home chores.
Apps and services
12. Use apps that allow you to efficiently communicate with the office getting carried away by interacting with co-workers or clients at all hours of the day.
13. Avoid constantly checking email and social media, and turn off all the unnecessary notifications on your phone to avoid interruptions.
14. If you move between computers throughout the workday, keep things in sync with services like Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, and other cloud storage services. That way whatever you're working on is available everywhere.
15. Set family boundaries. One of the biggest challenges, especially for those with a family, is family members thinking that working from home means you are always available for a phone call or errand. Communicate your schedule, and if needed, create ‘do not disturb days and hours.’
16. Avoid guilt. Taking a break at home is way harder than walking out of the office and going around the block.
17. Getting out of the home/office during the workday is essential for sanity. Living and working in the same environment can have an impact on your mental health if there is no escape. Pick a quiet time to go to the gym, take the dog for a walk etc. Build this into the daily schedule.
18. Work outside. It's amazing how a little fresh air can improve the mind.
19. For 5 minutes every hour, take a screen break - eyes off the screen or any screen.
20. Be careful how you use a laptop. It’s OK to do some work on a laptop, but using a laptop on a kitchen table for sustained periods is a bad idea. Over time it could cripple you, and the cost of physiotherapy soon adds up to more than the cost of ergonomic equipment.
The lesson learnt from working from home is that no two people need or want the same
in a home working situation.
There are some basic rules, such as taking breaks, getting out of the house, and ensuring
your office is conducive to allowing you to be productive. Other than that, keep an open
mind and experiment with different approaches.