When I think about it, in reality I’ve worked from home my entire working life. Granted there have been a couple of short term office tenancies but I’ve never needed an office. Over the coming days and weeks I’ll be posting more information on how to best go at working from home.
I would like to say while my experiences have been with dealing with a relatively small team and most of the tips I will be putting out will be for the individual employee, there is a completely different set of challenges if your organisation has a larger work force. This revolves around the technical side of the infrastructure to ensure that when we do go back to work in our offices it’s a seamless transition. I would highly recommend speaking to an expert like Network Now on these technologies and getting advice and systems in place to make it easier to continue working effectively.
1. Set Boundaries with your Family and Friends
This is the most difficult part of working from home. It’s vital that you setup boundaries. It might save you from divorce or thousands of dollars in couple counseling.
Tackle your family first and start at the top being your Wife, Husband or Partner. They need to understand that while you are physically at home they can’t think of you as being at home.
2. “Do Not Disturb”
The hardest thing to grapple with is shutting off. This is something to this day I still struggle with, but I’ve had great success with utilising the “Do Not Disturb” functions on my devices. My devices are constantly on “Do Not Disturb” but I have a list of a few essential people who’s calls and messages i allow to get through. Everything and everyone else is cut off.
This might seems a bit drastic so the other alternative is to schedule your “Do Not Disturb” to come on at a certain time and have your essential list of people set up on yr devices to get through.
The amount of time this saves is huge and as you read down the list, efficiency is the key when working from home.
3. Work Times Don’t Work
The sooner you realise that your normal work start and finish times will change the easier it is to work around it. My day is completely different to other peoples and you need to find what works for you.
While all the lists out there tell you to have dedicated working hours sometimes that just doesn’t work.
4. Schedule Breaks
The one thing you’ll discover quickly when working from home is just how many breaks you actually take when in a office environment.
There’s a method called the Pomodoro Method: The idea behind it is you take strategic breaks to improve your productivity. It’s simple, you take a 5-minute break after every 25 minutes of work. Research shows that deactivating and reactivating work allows us to stay focused. You’ll also find that your quality of work will increase.
That short break will allow you to reevaluate what you’ve done and see things a little bit differently.
This is how I make it work
- Set a timer for the 25-minute
- Assign one task per 25-minute block. If you are working on a large task break it up into smaller sub-tasks
- Set a daily goal
- Don’t check your emails on your break
- Leave your desk on your break
- Don’t skip breaks
5. Get your Systems in Place
Depending on your industry working form home might be a completely new challenge. This goes well beyond answering a couple of emails after hours. So make sure you communicate with the person who makes decisions on technology or if that’s you, spend some time researching technologies that can make your life and your staffs life easier.
My prime example of this would be email. We run the risk of being over run with CC’s and BCC’s from internal emails being sent for the smallest thing. There are better ways for in-house communication. Take “Slack” as an example, a communication platform designed to replace email within a company.
6. Keep in Touch
Talk to colleagues. Not just through email but setup video calls and brainstorm ideas or troubleshoot problems just like you would in the office. It’s important to have outside input and it keeps you sane.
7. Accept Distractions
The fact is that even with all the planning you put in place to make this as easy as possible there will be distractions. Most you can avoid, Netflix is not a distraction! I’m talking about Kids. If they are young like my son, they don’t understand what is happening. Roll with it, as best you can.