Tuesday 24 March 2020

10 Tips for Working From Home

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.
1.     Make space
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.

2.     Get organized
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.

3.     Get into a routine
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.

4.     Prepare the kids
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 becoming frustrated.

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.

5.     Your hours
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.

Avoid 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”.

6.     Enjoy the commute
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.

7.     Get dressed
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.

8.     Be social
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.

9.     Enjoy
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!

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