Category: Business


Tags: CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19, homeworking

29 Remarkable Tips For Successful Homeworking

24th March 2020

Once considered a luxury of a relatively small proportion of the workforce, working from home now looks like it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Until the Government imposed the temporary closure of hundreds of business premises during the Coronavirus outbreak, homeworkers accounted for just 6.1% of the work force in the UK.

Graeme Wadhams

Marketing Director

Graeme Wadhams

With the immediate requirement for a lot of us to work from home, we prepared this helpful guide to ensure our staff stay as efficient and productive as possible in their new working environment.

If you find yourself working from home or are planning to in the future, hopefully you can take some of the tips in this article and apply them so you too can cope and even thrive in your new working environment.

How to structure your day when you work from home

We list 29 of the best tips and practices for successful homeworking, starting with how to structure your working day:

1. Structure Is Key

Structure is the basis for any working environment, but even more so when working remotely.  Make sure you have a plan for each day and try to set up a new routine that you can stick to which includes setting a start and finish time for your day.  It’s really important to keep some distance between ‘home’ and ‘homeworking’ to make sure you’re not answering emails at 10pm or when you should be spending time with the family.

2. Write A To-Do List

Knowing what you need to achieve for the day is no different to when you are in your normal workplace. In the morning write out a list of tasks that you aim to complete during that day – this will help you stay on track and keep you focused.

It’s easier to get distracted at home so review your to-do list regularly and again at the end of each day so you know if you’re on track. Take time at the end of each working day to make a list for the next day – this should include anything you have not managed to complete.

3. Dress In Appropriate Attire

Whether this is putting on a particular outfit before going to the gym or ensuring your children put on their uniform, studies have shown that the clothing we wear has a direct impact on our performance in a particular situation.  So for many of us, continuing to wake up at the usual time as if we were still commuting, as well as putting on the clothes we would normally wear to our workplace, will help get you into the ‘work’ mindset and help you perform to your best throughout the day.

4. Maintain A Work Telephone Manner

Just because you are at home it doesn’t mean your customers or colleagues expect less of you, so make sure you answer the phone in the same professional manner as you would while you are at your desk – always be friendly, polite and helpful!

5. Take Breaks

Your homeworking day should resemble your normal working day as much as possible, so make sure you take a short break both in the morning and afternoon.

Make sure now more than ever that you take a lunch break. This is something many of us are bad at doing whilst in the office, but when at home make sure you spend an hour away from the screen – there are more options in the home of things that can occupy you for an hour so give your mind some much-needed rest.

6. Find A Quiet Place To Work

Where possible, try to set yourself up with a quiet place to work, ideally away from where your children and/or pets play. This will help you concentrate and enable you to answer phone calls effectively and in a work manner.

Explain to partners and children who are old enough to understand that you are ‘at work’ and aren’t available for their needs like you normally would be at the weekend when you are at home.

7. Don’t Multi-Task

The temptation to multi-task is greater at home as you are surrounded by more distractions, but be strict with yourself and try to finish individual tasks one at a time. This will help you stay more productive, help you get through your to-do list and will give you a greater sense of satisfaction.

8. Turn A Spare Bedroom Into A Home Office

If you don’t usually work from home and you have space in your house, you might consider turning a spare bedroom into a home office.

If you can afford it, invest in good quality office furniture, especially when it comes to a chair as this will enable you to work in an ergonomic position, similar to your office environment – this can really help productivity and stop symptoms like lower back pain from sitting awkwardly.

9. What Day Is It Today?

If homeworking is new to you it can be difficult to remember what day it is without the usual cues and routines you experience at work.  So, at the start of the working day, when you’re making your daily plan, make sure you cover the basics by reminding yourself what date and day of the week it is.

10. Check In With Your Boss

Being proactive is essential when homeworking, so make sure you check in with your boss regularly to update them on what you are doing and what they can expect from you.

Even if you aren’t being asked to document how you are spending your time so that it can be charged onto clients, it can be helpful to keep a brief diary of your work activity each day – being able to recite a clear overview of your day will help you appear much more professional and efficient when your boss asks you “How have you been getting on?” and “What were you working on today”.

Keeping a brief diary of the day will also help you refine your to-do list as you adjust to the difference in the time it may take to get some tasks completed.

Steps to make working from home more enjoyable

There are many positives to working from home, here are our favourite things to enjoy while you’re not in the office:

11. Make Better Lunches

Many of us take generic sandwiches, soup or salads to the office and often may not get to eat them, but when you work from home, take the opportunity to use the food in your fridge and get creative. Stopping your day for some really good food will make you feel better and fuel your afternoon.

12. Exercise

Try to exercise for 20 minutes before work and in the middle of the day. Even if you take a short walk it will help you prepare for effective homeworking by stimulating your brain.

13. Get Outside During Your Lunch Break

With the constant hive of activity in the office it can be difficult for some to take a break at lunchtime, but whilst you are working from home you have the freedom to stop, take a break and go outside  – make the most of that hour lunch break and get some fresh air!

14. Embrace Disruptions

If you are new to home working, being interrupted by your children or pets might seem like an unwelcome distraction, but we would encourage you to embrace it (within reason). After all one of the major benefits of being able to work from home is spending more time with your family, so give children, partners and pets your attention when they interrupt you.  As long as these interruptions aren’t too frequent and stop you from working for extended periods of time, they are no different to your colleagues popping into the office to ask how your weekend was, or what you have planned for the evening.

15. Walk Around The House Whilst On The Telephone

Most of us are guilty of not physically moving enough during a workday. One of the benefits of working from home is that you have more space and the freedom to move around, so when you’re on the phone take advantage of this. Walking is good exercise, it often helps you think and it can also produce more productive telephone conversations.

16. Set A Good Example For Your Children

Whether you realise it or not, if you have children they are constantly watching how you act and behave. Until now you may have been at work for the majority of their day so if you have just started working from home remember this will be as new to them as it is for you and can be a bit unsettling at first. Take some time to explain what you are doing and how important it is – it will give them a good insight into what you do within your profession and what you’re actually doing when you’re ‘at work’.

17. Get Round To The Jobs You’ve Been Putting Off

Homeworking means you partly become your own boss as you are more in charge of your daily routine. Use your initiative to create and tick off all those ‘nice to have’ jobs you never have the time to do in the office. Whether it’s drafting new policies or procedures or reviewing existing ones and updating filing systems – these jobs can provide a welcome break from your normal tasks and can make you much more efficient in the long term.

Use the time to work ON your business, rather than just IN it.

18. Speak To Your Customers

Spending time at home doesn’t have to be isolating. Now is the time to pick up the telephone and speak to your customers. Emails have their place, but there is no substitute for a telephone call to create and maintain relationships with the people you do business with, and of course, those that you may end up doing business with in the future!

19. Enjoy Your Commute

We’ve said it before but the biggest benefit of working from home is you get back the time you would have spent commuting to and from work. For some, this can be up to two hours a day that you now have to spend with your family, exercising or cooking.

20. Work At Night

For some, the distractions of family life during the day may be too much and could make it difficult to maintain a constant working pattern, so it may be necessary to alter your working hours slightly. When the darkness prohibits you from going out and when the rest of the family are asleep you might find you are more productive in the evening – it’s an option, but we would only recommend this as a last resort.

How to use technology to your advantage while working at home

The 21st century provides some amazing technology and online facilities to make homeworking easier and more enjoyable than ever, so our list continues with our favourite tech solutions for working from home:

21. Interact With Colleagues Via Video Link

Modern technology gives us a vast range of options to communicate with our colleagues. Google Meet and Zoom are great examples of video conferencing that allow teams of people to communicate face to face from remote locations.  With tools such as Google Calendar you can invite colleagues to online video meetings within Google Meet – integrations like this ensure the less IT savvy members of your team can easily participate.

If you are new to video conferencing, here are some great tips by Dead Ready Productions to ensure you, your colleages and your clients do it well.

22. Use The Diary

Free online tools such as Google Calendar allow you to create a diary of tasks that keep you on track. You can also set reminders for important meetings or tasks that need to be completed. You can usually get the same app on your mobile phone so you get reminders wherever you are.  Calendar apps are usually quite sophisticated allowing you to put in any appropriate links or any relevant images you need to look at during the meeting.

23. Use Shared Google Docs

If you’ve not discovered the benefits of Google Drive and sharing documents, this is an essential tool which will allow you to collaborate with your colleagues. Word documents and spreadsheets can be shared with your colleagues so that you can all see and update the same document. So when you are all on a video or telephone conference call you can all see the same data.  Especially useful for management reporting as it cuts down on having to keep sending up-to-date versions of documents as everyone is working on the most recent version at all times.

24. Buy A Smart Speaker

If you are going to be spending a lot of time at home, the new range of smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home can help you be more productive and also give you a little company while you work.  Want to know how to spell something? Ask Google. Want the heating adjusted? Ask Alexa. And the added bonus is they’re reasonably priced too!

25. Get Online Reviews For Your Business

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools we have! Most people will read up to ten reviews before making a purchase decision, and 1 in 2 of us will visit a website after reading positive reviews, so getting reviews for your business is time well spent whether you are working from home or in the office.

You also need to make sure you have the right technology to be able to continue to produce the same standard of work as if you were in the office, so invest in a suitable laptop or software for seamless homeworking.

26. Listen To Music

Many office environments don’t allow music to be played while you work, but now you are at home, having a low playing radio or some relaxing music on will provide some welcome background noise and help you keep time effectively with the regular news bulletins.

Listening to music can also help you filter out distractions such as children or family.

27. Limit Personal Social Media Usage

Social media is one of the biggest threats to a productive workplace, especially for the younger generations. The same is true if you now intend to work from home, so try to limit your social media usage for two reasons:

  1. Scrolling endless social media feeds is a great way to waste time rather than applying yourself to work
  2. Social media scrolling reduces concentration levels, teaching your brain to ignore information – the opposite of what you want when you are in ‘work mode’

Your manager is also likely to be checking social media during working hours, so remember to only post appropriate work-related content!

28. Be On Company Social Media More

Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to business. If you now find yourself working from home, your customers still need to hear about what you are doing for them and any news and developments within your industry – be sure to prioritise some of your time each day to post company updates on your professional social media channels and always follow, like, share and retweet any posts that your company sends out.

29. Keep The Television Off

There is no doubt that television is a distraction so try to resist the temptation to leave the TV on in the background when you are working. This will be more difficult for those with children, but try to remember that when you are home working you are ‘at work’ so should act and structure your environment as appropriately as possible. The more distractions there are, the more room for error and none of us want that!

 

Hopefully, this list will help you in your new homeworking routine, but if we have missed anything that you think is an essential tip we’d love to hear from you so be sure to tell us on social media.

 

 

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