What are the best ways to work from home?
This article continues in our series on working from home.
In these days now everyone who can is now working from home. The following are a few tips I picked over the years of doing this from my contracting days. You may think this would be easy but having your work environment encroaches on your personal space, presents its own challenges.
In no particular order:
1. Firstly, I would designate a physical area set aside for work.
Firstly, I would designate a physical area set aside for work. Where possible this should be a room, desk, garden shed, anything that separates from your living space. Psychologically that makes you feel as though you are “going to work” and allows your brain to “switch on” to the tasks at hand. It also should indicate to your fellow residents, whether they be family or flat mates, that you are now concentrating on other things and should not be disturbed. Testing that theory compared to fact is always an interesting challenge.
2. Set up your space so it is a comfortable and replicates your own desk back at the office.
If work has given you a laptop, then hook that up to a larger screen for better viewing. Ergonomic furniture is a must for sitting for long periods, so invest in a good chair and desk. Nothing is worth getting back pain for so get advice and make sure your area is fit for purpose. In trays, cupboards pencil holders and all the rest should be put in place, so everything looks and feels like you are at work. Your employer should contribute to this cost, if not pay for it outright if this is going to be for a long period of time.
3. A good internet connection is essential.
I have noticed that even though I have the most upgraded package from Virgin I am now only getting up top 5 meg upload speeds where I was getting 190? Now that everyone is working from home this has obviously affected supply (I’m sure my neighbours are devouring all the bandwidth on Netflix). This is causing me issues during the day. Try and have an alternative source of internet either by using the hotspot on your mobile phone or I prefer the mobile “mifi” devices as I have found they are more powerful. The amount of business’s I have seen that do not have a contingency plan for losing their connectivity continues to astound me. (Kingston hospital couldn’t access their medical records for three days due to Virgin lines had been dug up by mistake).
4. Keep in contact with your work colleuges and line managers.
That will keep you focused on work schedules and get support when needed. Software such as Microsoft Teams, or Slack are very good interfaces for getting people in your department to co-ordinate efforts. Traditional email or phone calls are good but can sometime be distracting when you are in the middle of something. Management should guide you into what they expect and provide the tools you need to do your job.
5. Be careful where you store your documents.
Eventually the time will come when this crisis is over, and you head back to work. All the work you have done should saved within the organisation’s domain, either on the server, SharePoint, a Web Portal or something that can be retrieved later on. If you keep various versions on your desktop then it gets very confusing when trying to recreate all that information when you get back to the office.
6. Keep normal office hours.
It may be nice not having to crawl through the daily commute, but it’s good discipline to keep to your normal times, not only to keep on schedule with existing work, but again to keep your professional and private life separate. Psychologically it becomes a sacred space and not to be encroached upon.
7. Have your lunch at normal times and get outside the house.
Being stuck in one place can drive anybody nuts so take a lunch break and walk round the block to get your mind refreshed. It’s bad enough being chained to a desk when you’re at work but don’t let your home become a prison.
8. Keep up the physical exercise.
If your gym is closed find an alternative such as running or walking to get the heart pumping. The daily commute might be a bit of a drag, but it does provide a bit of activity which might make you lethargic if you stay inside all day.
9. On a related topic, beware of the fridge.
The temptation to graze and forage for food is tempting but not necessarily helpful.
10. Enjoy the sleep in.
About the Author:
Malcolm Ford has worked in the ERP implementation space for over 10 years working with large and small companies on increasing their productivity. A lot of his work is now done remotely meaning less disruption to clients and getting more done within the day.