When we think of working from home, it can conjure many mental images; working at the kitchen table, a desk in the corner of the spare bedroom, to fantastic office spaces at the back of the garden, purpose built with stunning panoramas of the surrounding landscape where you can lock yourself away from home for 10 hours at a time. While the latter would be a fantastic proposition for many and is certainly the case for some of our rural based workworkers, others will have to work with the resources available to them in their homes or their localities.
Here are a number of tips to ensure the best productivity while still availing of the many advantages of remote working.
- The door between home and work
While it might seem obvious, as a remote workworker you need a proper working space and somewhere to call your office. What makes a proper working space? A desk, a chair, a computer? All of these of course are essential consider the privacy of the working space and the separation from the rest of the home. This is somewhere you commute to work, you enter the space and you close the door behind you. You are no longer at home once you cross that threshold, you are in work. The mental headspace should change immediately to one of “on-point”, ready for the challenges that are ahead of you for the day. This is your war-room, you don’t enter or exit lightly.
What makes a space private is of course the door and the private office room beyond it. This means to be a successful workworker we insist on having a private space with a door to close behind you. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you are working at the kitchen and then later in the evening you are using the same space to cook your dinner, maybe using the time between cooking a roast and chopping the carrots to check a few sneaky emails on the laptop.
Never blur the lines between your home and your office. Commute to the office, enter and do a solid day with the team, and close the door behind you when you leave that evening. When you’re in the office, there are no personal distractions coming from outside beyond the door and work stays in work when you leave. You are a remote worker but you still have commute every day and you spend you day in the office like normal. One of the many advantages of course is your commute will be 15 seconds.
- Furniture and environment
Remote working brings a lot of advantages to the workworker so don’t be afraid to pay a visit to the local furniture store or a trip online to order proper equipment such as a large office desk and a proper office chair. You might be tempted to use one of the spare chairs from the kitchen table to save the hassle but remember, you’re sitting in this chair for 8 or 10 hours a day and comfort and posture need to be respected.
Likewise it might be necessary to give the local electrician a call to ensure you have adequate electricity power points and also that the heat and lighting is sufficient. The room needs to be quiet and free from external distractions, make sure that the windows are of sufficient glazing if you live near a busy street or intersection as noise is not only distracting for you but would become an issue on video calls with your colleagues.
If you are lucky enough to have sufficient available space then workwork suggests including some nice touches like a comfortable chair in the corner for break time and reflection and a whiteboard if you’re working out a complex problem and pacing the room. For the really lucky ones, a fully stocked mini-fridge with bottles of water, a bowl of fresh fruit, and a Nespresso machine in the corner.
The paperless office remains a myth unfortunately so you might need to allow for items such as printers, shredders, filing cabinets etc. Make as much effort as possible to make your office space represent what a typical office space would be and mirror a normal working day for you. Even something that might seem obvious such as a waste bin close to hand will save a few trips to the kitchen during the day and all the distractions of the outside world.
3. Break times
We have outlined above the importance of a private working space with a closed door and ensuring you are sufficient for working at sustained periods in “the office”. However, war-room or not, all day every day in the one room should be avoided (excluding toilet breaks of course, we are not machines ?).
We all know that there are challenges with social isolation when working from home and in a recent survey of several workworkers, those that made the effort to leave the house for lunch and to meet people were happiest. Each workworker will have to find their own sweet spot or routine for working from home and taking breaks but we recommend if at all possible to get out of the house once during the day. Many of our lucky workworkers get to meet friends for a quick lunch, a quick walk in your local park, get out and get some fresh air, or even get a quick shop in for that evening.