I’ve worked from home for the best part of the last decade. Over the years there are a few things I have learnt, some of which might be beneficial to those of you trying it for the first time.
1. Clearly define your office hours
Whether its 8am-5pm, 9am-6pm or 12pm-midnight, make sure that you clearly define which hours you will be at work. There will be a temptation to always be available to take calls, respond to emails or start projects. This will quickly lead to stress and can impact your relationship with other people in the home. Make sure your family know your working hours, and ask them not to interrupt you unless it’s truly urgent.
Then, when you shut the laptop for the end of your working day, keep it shut.
2. Don’t go straight from bed to the office
Again, because you can jump straight out of bed and start bashing away at the keyboard that does not mean you should. Relax, drink coffee, eat breakfast, read the newspapers, Twitter, Facebook (whatever your passion), take a shower, get dressed (more on this later) and only then sit down in front of the computer.
Never, ever, work while in bed.
3. Get dressed
This is probably the most important point I can make: whatever the temptation is to work in your pyjamas, underpants or nothing at all, keep it professional. The main reason is that getting dressed for work helps trick the brain into thinking that you are actually going to work. You can even create a fake ‘commute’: pop out for a short stroll (keeping your distance from others, of course) before starting work.
4. Take a lunch break
Pre-coronavirus I would have said that going out for lunch is the best option (especially if you can meet up with other people). Now, with staying home advisable, it is of prime importance that you still take a break. And that does not mean eating a sandwich while still sitting at your desk. Move away from the computer, call a friend, watch something on Netflix.
5. Use decent collaboration software
Staying in touch with colleagues is crucial, and the key to making it work is the collaboration solution you use. Emerging Europe recently switched to Microsoft Teams which, while it takes a little getting used to and can be a bit fiddly, is perfect for remote working as it incorporates just about every feature you need, from chat to conference calling and document collaboration. Do not rely on free collaboration solutions: these will quickly prove to be inefficient and simply not up to the task.