Everyone knows working from home can be a difficult transition, especially if you’re used to working in an office, shop, or even a bar or restaurant! There are distractions around the house; and if you live with other people it can be difficult to get the peace and quiet you need. Team working is also made all the more tricky by the distance. But when executed right, working from home can be enjoyable and productive.
Depending on your industry you may be busier (or far less busy) than usual at this moment in time. If the latter is true, this is a great time to think about how you might be able to do things differently at work, brainstorm opportunities for new business and new leads, or get creative about how you can grow and expand your offering when you’re back at work. If you’re busy, consider yourself privileged!
Whatever your situation, we’ve devised some top tips on how to stay productive, engaged and motivated if working from home over the coming weeks.
1. Set up a dedicated working space
This is the most important rule when you start working from home. Firstly because it creates boundaries, but it also allows you to separate work time from relaxation time. Having a designated work area will help you get into work mode and be productive each day, but will also help you switch off and wind down properly at the end of the day.
You don’t necessarily have to create a home office. You could sit at your dining table or in your kitchen or living room. The key is to choose a quiet room where you can take calls, sit comfortably and not be interrupted by background noise.
We wouldn’t recommend working from a sofa or from your bed, as these are the places where you want to be relaxing. Sitting upright at a table will help you focus and get into work mode.
2. Make sure you have everything you need before you start working from home
This includes your to-do list, logins and passwords and any equipment that you might need, including your laptop and phone. Make sure you know to access any documents you need - for example on Dropbox, Google Suite or another cloud storage platform.
You also need to make sure that you have a good and reliable internet connection for emails and conference calls.
To work efficiently you also need to be sitting comfortable. Make sure you have a good office chair and work surface to stop you from getting achy!
3. Stick to your routine
When working from home it’s easy to fall into the trap of working in your pyjamas and getting up a little later because you don’t have to commute, but try not to! Get showered and dressed as you usually would and stick to your normal working hours and routine. This will help you feel motivated and ready to work. It also means you’re prepared for any last minute conference calls or video calls you might have to take.
You might find it helpful to use the extra time that you save on commuting to have a good breakfast, enjoy a home workout, or go for a morning walk around the block to clear your mind.
4. Set clear boundaries
If you live with family members or flatmates it can be difficult to communicate that working from home really means working from home! Make sure they know your exact working hours and that you’re not available when you’re in your dedicated workspace, wherever that may be.
This also applies to your work, too. It can be very easy for you to finish your normal working hours, but then quickly send those last emails, or write that social media post, and before you know it you’ve spent an extra hour and half working.
Try and refrain from working outside of your normal hours. You need to learn to switch off. If you don’t, you might reach burnout pretty quickly. It’s not yet clear how long we can expect to work from home, so you want to keep your energy and motivation up as much as you can.
5. Make a clear ‘to do’ list, and mark your priorities each day
Without the absence of your manager and other work colleagues checking in with you during the day, it’s really important to make a clear to-do list and to manage your time appropriately. Once you do this, you’ll be surprised at how much more work you can get done! You won’t have as many interruptions or workplace conversations to distract you.
You should also mark your priorities for the day clearly. What do you definitely need to do, and what can wait? If you don’t prioritise, it’s easy to let important tasks slip down the list.
Of course, with the absence of work colleagues, it’s important you communicate regularly to your team members via a group chat (such as WhatsApp or Google Hangout) and keep them up to date with what you’ve done and what you’ve still got to do.
6. Look after your mental health
Working from home has its perks, but it can get a bit lonely. Particularly in the midst of our current global crisis. Keep in touch with team members and friends on the phone (not just messaging, we need to hear other voices!), take time out on your lunch break to get out of the house for a few minutes (if you can), and make time for the things you enjoy in the mornings and evenings.
If you usually commute, you’ll be saving lots of time by not travelling, so try and make the most of those extra hours. We have to try and make the best of it, even enjoy it if we can.
Look after yourself and each other, and keep an eye out for more tips and advice from Hatton Garden BID to get you through the coming weeks.