Working from home for the first time?
Working from home, who doesn’t love it? If you rely on the internet and a computer to do your job, technology makes it possible. But, can we be as productive at home as we are in the office? Stats say we can if it is well managed. Best of all, we are less tired and stressed because we have eliminated a long commute to the office and we don’t have to spend the time getting ready and looking presentable. We can work all day in our pyjamas if we like, though we recommend changing, so you are not tempted to crawl back into bed.
Many of us who are lucky enough to still have a job are forced to work at home to stay isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, let’s look at some tips to keep your working life humming along.
Tip #1: Set up a home office
First of all, you need adequate technology such as a laptop or home PC, a mobile phone and a decent internet connection with sufficient data and security.
If you can avoid working from the kitchen table, setting up a dedicated home office space is ideal. Packing up at the end of every day so your family can sit at the dinner table can get tedious and spread your workstation around the living space.
If you have the luxury of a spare corner or nook in your home, make the most of it. Once you sit at your home office desk it sends a message to the rest of your household (children especially) that you are at work and not to be disturbed.
Set up your computer desk and office ergonomically just as you would if you were at the office. The Sydney Spine and Sports Centre has posted this instructive video on YouTube to make your home office ergonomically correct:
Tip #2: Security
Cybersecurity is an important issue when working from home. Your devices need to be set up with good antivirus and encryption programs and a firewall.
Most remote workers will be accessing workplace project files in cloud-based programs such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Cloud computing is highly secure due to providers continuously upgrading and developing new security measures to keep your data safe from hackers.
Tip #3: Set your work hours
Working from home will be a different experience for each of us. Some of us are working at home with children in isolation, which can be full of disruption and difficulty. With schools and childcare centres closed it can be hard to maintain a solid work routine throughout the day.
While working from home arrangements can offer flexible hours, it is best if you can, to set a schedule as if you were going to the office. Without the commute and self-presentation efforts, you may be able to start earlier and get more work done. Perhaps getting up a couple of hours before the kids and starting work in the wee hours will help.
Not every day is going to be perfect, especially with kids at home, but despite your best efforts, you may find yourself having to catch up in the evening hours. It’s best to avoid this and have a definite end time to the working day. To set healthy boundaries don’t let work invade your home life. When the working day is done, turn off your computer and walk away from your home office.
Tip #4: Structure your day
It’s helpful to create a to-do list for the day while you are having your breakfast and morning coffee. Bear in mind the times of day that you are most productive. Scheduling the difficult tasks in your most mentally productive times will help you get through your to-do list.
Scheduling your day to include meetings with co-workers, phone calls and allocated time to each task, with appointed break times is a very efficient time management technique and for avoiding distractions and delays.
Planning your workday or even stretching your planning through the entire week will give you the big picture for the days ahead. Google Calendar or the Office 365 calendar are both handy tools for scheduling.
Commit to maintaining continuity and achieving your work goals for the day. Tell yourself and your co-workers what you plan to achieve for the day so you feel accountable. Set alarms or timers to help you time manage yourself. Using an app like Toggle to record the time you spend on each task gives you a good picture of how much time each project consumes. If you don’t quite manage to finish everything, at least you made the commitment and did your best to achieve it.
Tip #5: Use Social media
As our social isolation extends into weeks and possibly months, we turn to social media to stay connected. If our device is regularly pinging with notifications, we get constantly distracted with time-consuming diversions. To work from home effectively it would be wise to turn off all social media notifications during work hours and wait till dedicated break times to catch up on news from friends and family.
Tip #6: Staying connected with technology
There is a multitude of apps and free online tools to keep you in the loop with co-workers and managers. We have already mentioned Office 365 and Google Calendar. Instant messaging, email and video conferencing make connection and workplace contribution accessible. Each organisation or business will have a suite of apps and support tools to assist with remote work.
Staying connected to our work colleagues via video conferencing is especially important while working from home. It keeps us involved in the big picture and on the same page as a team. Video conferencing is also important for us to stay in touch with our clients. Especially in this time of mandatory isolation, clients need to know you are available to them and you are still providing your products and services and meeting your agreements.
There are live chat tools available on the net such as:
Tip #7: Take regular breaks
We all need to take a break to get some exercise and limber up the brain for the next chunk of allocated work time. Going for a walk outside in the fresh air while maintaining social distancing rules is necessary to help you remain productive for the rest of the working day. Even a break of 10 minutes can be effective.
It can be too easy to work straight through lunch. We recommend that you take at least 20 – 30 minutes, eat something healthy and focus on stretching, go for a walk or do something that does not involve work.
We Push Buttons are working from home
We Push Buttons have managed international employees and those that work from home on a regular basis with no loss in productivity. Instead, we have gained more out of each employee by allowing them their ideal work situation. Flexibility is key to a happy labour pool. If you need expert advice and assistance to set up your business to function with remote staff, we have the expertise at our fingertips. Whether you are a large or small organisation, we understand the technology you need to keep on working.
Please read our post on what we are doing to address COVID-19 while still maintaining services to our clients.