I’ve been fortunate
to work and run my business from home for several years.
Initially, it was a
challenge, and given the current situation with Covid-19 and the need to self-isolate, many design firms are
enabling their staff to work from home.
Here are my top 10 tips on how to manage
this transition and avoid the pitfalls and challenges of working from home.
Set aside a space that will become your office.
Don’t set up on the kitchen table. Aside from the bad
ergonomics, it’s an imposition on your life outside working hours. If you have
a spare room, that’s great, if not, pick a quiet corner where you can place a desk and
make it your “working hours” space.
Set yourself up as you would previously. Have
the same stationery on hand, your coffee cup, printer, phone etc. Set up your
files and resources. By being
organized you’ll feel more productive and define the space as a “work”
environment. Research the right tools enabling you to connect with the office
and your colleagues.
When I first started working from home it was
very easy to get distracted and side-tracked with chores around the home…. I
had to do the laundry, the dishes, mow the lawn, water the grass, vacuum… all ll before I could focus on my work.
Figure out a schedule for when you’re "at work",
and stick to it.
Have activities planned and prepared for the
kids the night before so you have a strategy for the day. I understand that
having small children at home can be a challenge! Don’t be so hard on yourself or them: this is an adjustment for
all of you. Once a routine gets established it will
become a lot easier. It’s ok to check on the kids, spend 5 or 10 minutes frequently
making sure “all is ok”. Spending that time is more constructive than you
You might also want to make it clear to
your family and friends that you work during the day and even though you are at
home, it’s not ok to pop by for a chat, or invite you to golf for a 2pm tee
time. They wouldn’t do this while you're at the office so they shouldn’t expect it to be any different now that
you are working from home.
Your job may require you to work 8 hours, that
doesn’t mean you have to work 8 hours straight. Spread out your hours in a way that makes sense for
your life. I found this makes me more productive and
relieves some of the pressure of working from home.
the “I’ll just finish this” trap.
It’s a balancing act, there is a time to shut
down the computer and finish for the day. Personally, I have strict hours (I
have no kids at home) so I have a start time in the morning, I stop for lunch
at noon for an hour and I have an “end-time” at the end of the day when I close
the door to my office and I essentially “leave work”.
My commute is brutal, down the hall, often
have to wait at the intersection due to traffic (the dogs laying on the floor),
around the corner and park my butt in my chair. When I first started to work
from home, my commute to work reduced by 45 minutes… that’s 90 minutes of the
day that I got back. Take that time and invest it in yourself: go to the gym,
go for a walk, enjoy breakfast, this is a perk of working from home.
Seriously. It’s easy to work in your pyjamas but it’s not conducive to a “working”
mindset. Dress the same as if you're going into the office.
Even though you work from home, you can still
interact and engage with your colleagues. Video conferencing is the best way to
do this. I use MS Teams for this and it’s a great way to communicate with my
team. We frequently video
call and this increases the connectivity and collaborative environment, similar to
that which you would get in an office environment.
It’s a great privilege to be able to work from
home. Not only can it be a
very productive environment, but also an enjoyable one.
Get yourself set up the right way and enjoy the freedom that working
from home provides!