While it may be a big change for many of us and means that we have to adapt to a new way of working, for many out there working from home is just ‘another day at the office’. Figures have risen to over 1.54 million people now working from home for their main job, up from 884,000 ten years ago (ONS Labour Force Survey).
This being said, due to the uncertain times that we are living in and the preventative measures we have been encouraged to take, many of us are now embracing working from home and flexible working.
So for those of us that might be working remotely/working from home, we have provided some top tips to work efficiently, keep spirits high and navigate the possible pitfalls of remote working.
Some of these tips are even from iHASCO employees sharing WFH tips with one another!
#1 Get up & get dressed
It’s easy if you're working at home to be tempted to put your trackies on, or keep your PJ’s on, or work on the sofa from your laptop, but this will alter the way you approach your work. By getting up, showering, getting dressed it will prepare you for work like a ‘normal’ office-based working day. You need a routine, just as you would working from the office.
Getting showered and dressed will disassociate you from the clothes you associate from rest and relaxation of home life too. When work finishes, you are then able to get dressed in your relaxed clothes, this may help you to feel as if your working day is over.
#2 Separate work from home
Our very own Darren Miller - Senior Developer, works from home 4 days a week and offered his top tip:
“My number one tip is to separate your work environment from your domestic one as much as you can. If space is tight then arrange a suitable table as a working desk in the morning and at the end of the day put it all out of sight.”
It’s easy to just set up at the nearest available space to you (your dining room table perhaps) but aim to create a separate ‘working space’, this might be another room where you can go to work or it might be that you set up and take down your workstation each day. The best tip we see everywhere though is; don’t set up your workspace in your bedroom!
#3 Establish boundaries
If you have other people at home with you while you’re working at home, like we have mentioned above, try and find a separate space or different room from the other people at home. If you don’t have a separate space you could try working with headphones or your back to where the distractions are. Or set break times where you can be interrupted - otherwise, you might be on a client call and end up like Profesor Robert Kelly!
This includes minimising distraction e.g. getting your phones out of the way!
#4 Go outside
If you’ve followed our first tip, you will be dressed in clothes you would be happy to be seen outside in, so this may encourage you to take a break outside during your day - a quick walk to the shops maybe? Take the dog for a walk? Fresh air is key. If you are not self-isolating, take a break outside. A change of perspective, scenery or company might be good for any tasks you're struggling with or mental blocks!
If you can’t take a break outside, try and bring some of the office environment to you! This might be having a phone/video call with your colleagues over lunch, having the radio or music on in the background like you might at the office or just ensure that your break or lunch is separate from your workstation and you actually use your break to do something non-work related!
#5 Keep in contact
We have been keeping in constant with one another here at iHASCO. We use Slack to communicate with each other in groups and direct messages. We have also been using Google Hangouts Meet to have all of the meetings that we can still have and have catch-ups with our team members. Managers should also be regularly checking in with employees, not just about work, but about wellbeing too.
It’s the little things…for example, we all say good morning to one another on Slack as we’re not able to say it face to face like we normally do in the office!
#6 Take breaks and socialise
Whether it’s running up and down the stairs, hanging the washing up, stepping outside, stretching, breathing exercises, make sure you take regular short breaks and get away from the screen!
And don’t forget to take a lunch break, make yourself some food. And stay hydrated over the day (this will ensure that you regularly have to get up from your desk 😉 )
We all need to talk to others, speaking to no one all day can be isolating! Try not to just stick to phone calls, video calls and seeing other people will allow you to check in more thoroughly e.g. see if someone looks stressed or worn out, this is particularly helpful for managers and employers rather than emails and instant messages.
#7 Prepare Food the same way
If you meal prep on a Sunday night already then keep doing the same! You don’t want to have to take time out of your working day, even if you are at home, to make yourself lunch! And if you have a workplace that provides healthy snacks such as fruit, then it might be an idea to get something similar in so that you don’t eat all of the leftover Christmas chocolate!
#8 Meetings still exist!
If you are meeting with clients over a phone or video call and you answer in your coffee-stained School Leavers hoodie it’s not going to set a very good impression! You should treat it the same as a client face to face meeting.
#9 Take sick days
If you are unwell, for whatever reason, it can be tempting to power through and continue to work from home. But you should take the time that you need to recover otherwise you might make yourself more unwell and in turn, lose out on more working hours.
#10 Work-life balance
A good work-life balance is essential regardless of working at home or in an office. So, good planning, time management, communication, and prioritisation are key to finding that balance.
We briefly mentioned it above, but it is essential that if you use the same place for work and relaxation, you need to find a balance between the two. Make sure you leave time to unwind. Some people find a way to ‘switch off’ to pack away their desks at the end of the day, otherwise the temptation to ‘go and finish that one last email’ too tempting!
Ultimately using all of the tips are ways in which you can work towards a harmonious work-life balance!
Training for Home Workers
Just like those based in an office, employers still have a responsibility for the health and safety of employees working at home.
Our Health and Safety Training for Homeworkers is broken down into 4 easy sections; responsibilities & legal requirements, hazards & risks, working at home and safety & emergency procedures. This training is perfect for anyone who frequently works from home, whether it's all of the time or some of the time.
Other relevant training for homeworkers;