If you’re lucky enough to have a job that allows you to work from home, it can be both a blessing and a curse! Not having to take annual leave because you need to wait in for that delivery or having some work done in the house is great. You have the flexibility to work from anywhere and you may even get a lie in. After all, if you don’t need to make that morning commute, you may as well spend that extra half hour in bed right? No need to shower, comb your hair, shave or even get dressed. Endless cups of tea, the dog asleep at your feet. And don’t forget there’s no pesky colleagues chatting about their boring lives, or stinky lunches in the staff room. What could be better? More people are working from home, but more people are finding it problematic. Some people can find it isolating, difficult to concentrate on work getting easily distracted and difficult to complete the work you need to do.
So how can you enjoy the perks of working from home without the downsides? Follow our tips to find out how.
One of the main drawbacks from home working is the blurred line between home and work life. Sitting in your home office or at the dining room table can be tricky, as you may always associate that place with work. It can also be difficult to draw the line for working hours. Where you might leave the house at 7:45 for the commute to work, you now may feel the need to start working at that time instead. Come 5pm, you’d usually be walking out the door for your journey home, but seen as you’re already home, you may as well finish that report that will take another hour. So, how do you keep on top of things?
Make sure you have a workspace. Whether that’s your home office, or the dining table, set up for the day and pack away at the end of the day. If your laptop is on the table, it’s much easier to hop on and check whether finance have e-mailed that info over for the morning. But then that leads to returning an e-mail and before you know it you’ve spent an hour on e-mails. If you clear away your work clutter, pack away your laptop and work papers, it will be much less tempting to unpack everything and start working. Think about your work hours too. Working from home does give you the flexibility to start a bit earlier, meaning you can get a head start on things for the day. Be careful of this though if you work from home regularly. It’s easy for your boss to get used to those 7:30am e-mails, so make clear boundaries as to your start and finish times, as you would if you were working in the office.
Get dressed! It may seem a strange thing, but if you’re lying about in your PJ’s all day, you don’t feel professional. If you get dressed, you’ll feel much better. I’m not advocating the full business suit, tie and shoes, but at least something that won’t make you blush if you run into the postman! Getting washed and dressed gets you ready for the day. You’ll feel much more like working if you’re not stagnating in last night’s dirty clothes.
Keep the distractions to a minimum. It can be hard when you’re working from home, either family already in the house wanting attention or others stopping by because your car is in the drive. It can be really difficult, but you need to be clear to people that this isn’t social time. They wouldn’t walk into your office in the middle of the day and expect a chat and a cuppa, so why do they do it when you’re working from home? Some people think working from home is a breeze – you’re not actually working but sitting at home watching TV all day, right? It can be hard to get over to people that your working day can’t be interrupted. If you can, just don’t answer the door, or don’t invite them in. Tell them you are waiting on an important conference call or video meeting, so don’t have time to chat. You can always call them later to explain, but for now, you need to get back to work. What if the distractions live with you? Partners, children, even pets can be distracting when you’re working from home. You need to find space in the house where you can shut the door and get on with what you need to do. Speak to the family beforehand and explain that although you’re at home, you can’t be disturbed. It can be difficult at first, but keep up with the consistent message and people will eventually get it and leave you alone.
Focus on the tasks you need to complete. Working from home can be hard, after all, that pile of dishes needs doing from last night and the bathroom could do with a clean. You need to remember that your company are paying you to work, not complete your household chores. When you know you will be working from home, make sure to get these distractions out of the way the night before or the morning before you start work. There’s nothing worse than sitting looking at a pile of dishes when you have e-mails to send, but that’s not your job right now. Make a clear list of the work place tasks that need to be completed before the end of the day. That way, you can work through them and tick them off. It will help to keep you focussed on what you’re paid to do, not the things you would like to be doing.
Take a break. As you would at the office, taking a 10 minute break to stretch your legs and top up that cuppa are important. Make sure you take your lunch break too. It can be easy to work through, but taking that break at lunch is a great way to help you re-focus on what needs to be completed for the afternoon. Go for a quick walk, make yourself a nice lunch and relax for a bit. Just make sure you get back to work at the time you should do.
How do you cope with the isolation? Some people find working from home can be lonely – sitting on your own, maybe talking to the dog or cat. What about when you miss Brenda and her moaning because at least is was someone to talk to! Depending on what your job role is, could you work from the local coffee shop for a bit each day? Getting out of the house and being surrounded by others is great for your mental health. But what about if your job role doesn’t allow you that flexibility? You can’t be talking to clients and have sensitive information out on the table where anyone could walk past, so what then? You need to make sure you make time for conversation – whether that’s calling the office and speaking to your colleagues, bosses or clients, make sure that you keep those communication channels open. That way, you won’t feel so isolated and you get to keep up with the gossip in the office. You can also make sure that you have something to look forward to at night. If you work from home all day and then plonk yourself in front of the telly all night, you’re likely to find you hate working from home in a very short space of time. Planning something with your significant other or friends is a great way to make sure that at the end of the day you have some human contact and see people face to face. It will help to keep you focussed during the day as you have something to look forward to and will help to get rid of those blues.
Working from home can be a great privilege if you can manage your time and expectations successfully. Follow our tips and keep on top of your work so you can really make the most of it!
So, what’s this got to do with The Wage Shop?
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