We’re living in unprecedented times. While home working was becoming more popular, nobody could have predicted that millions of people all over the world would be stationed at their kitchen tables and coffee tables for months on end in 2020. If you’re working from home, and you’re keen to make the most of flexible working arrangements in the months ahead, here are some tips to bear in mind.
Stick to a routine
There’s a rose-tinted vision of working from home, which paints a picture of lying around in PJs until midday and typing away checking emails in front of the TV. In reality, many people have the same workload to get through, and therefore, lying in until 11am and working in front of daytime TV isn’t viable. The best way to maximise productivity and find the right work-life balance is to stick to a routine. Many of us are used to starting work at 8am or 9am and working through until late afternoon, taking a short break for lunch. At home, it’s wise to set yourself working hours and to figure out a system that plays to your strengths. If you’re an early bird, for example, you could start at 7am and wrap up early. If you’re not fully functional until 9am, opt for a normal 9-5 routine. You can be flexible to cater for the needs of colleagues or clients, but getting into the habit of working for a set number of hours is beneficial. Take regular breaks to stretch your legs, try and get some fresh air and exercise frequently.
Find a quiet space
Working from home is the new norm, but not everyone was prepared for a change of scenery. If you find yourself balancing your laptop on your knee on the sofa, or you’re trying to compete with the noise of kids’ TV programmes in the corner of the living room, try and find a quiet space to work. If you have a spare room, a conservatory, space in the garage, an attic room or a formal dining room you seldom use, you could convert all or part of the space into a temporary office. It’s crucial that you can concentrate and focus while you’re trying to work.
Stay in touch virtually
Many people who work in sociable, busy places may be missing contact with others and starting to tire of their own company. One of the silver linings of the lockdown has been the ability to stay connected and to reach out to friends and family virtually. If you miss the watercooler catch-ups, or you’re going for days without speaking to anyone via any other medium than email and instant messenger, make a video call or organise virtual after-work drinks on a Friday or a weekend quiz.
Working from home may be a new concept for many people. While it might not be ideally suited to everyone, there are benefits, and some employees may be hoping they can adopt more flexible working arrangements in the future. To make home working a success, plan in advance, establish a routine, find a quiet spot and reach out virtually if you’re missing human interaction.