- Why Might Working From Home be a Good Idea For You?
- What Are the Main Downsides of Working From Home?
- Is Working From Home Good For Business?
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Work From Home
- 3 Ways to Beat Work From Home Distractions
- 8 Tips to Boost Home Working Productivity
- Keeping an Eye on Your Home And Work-Life Balance
- Designing The Ideal Home Office
In the current day and age, flexible working is becoming more and more common.
We want more choice in our lives, and that also extends to how and where we work. You can work from a beach if you want to, a coffee shop, your garden, or, commonly, from an office you design within the four walls you call home.
You might be reading this amid the Coronavirus outbreak. In that case, it’s possible that you’re forced to work from home when you’ve never done it before. You might be strangely excited about that fact, simply because it’s something new, or you might be worried about how you’re going to manage without your colleagues within the regular, contemporary office environment.
Don’t worry. Working from home can be extremely beneficial and even enjoyable. However, like anything in life, you need to get learn how to get it right in order to grab those benefits and to avoid any negative aspects from spilling over into your daily routine.
Working from home isn’t for everyone, that’s a truth. You need to learn how to be productive, manage and avoid distractions, and you also need to be self-disciplined; it can be very tempting to do the housework or sit and watch daytime TV, but if you do that, you’re not going to get your work done! The good news is that by understanding how to work from home effectively, you’ll sidestep those problems and learn to appreciate this new way of working, whether it’s a temporary deal during difficult times, or whether it’s something you want to do over the long-term. Who knows, if you are forced to work from home due to the virus outbreak, you might learn to enjoy it so much that when all of this is over, you choose to continue!
This guide is going to give you the lowdown on what it is like to work from home in all honesty. We’re not going to sugar-coat it, we’re going to give it to you straight. We’re then going to tell you how to maximise the benefits and minimise the downsides. We’re also going to show you how to be ultra-productive and design a home working space that is comfortable, supportive, and here’s the P-word again - productive.
Let’s get started!
Why Might Working From Home be a Good Idea For You?
For now, we’ll assume that you’re thinking about working from home as an option and not that you’ve had to give this method of working a go because of restrictions to travel during the current time.
Countless people every single year make the switch from working within a regular office, sitting at their office chair, to working from home. Many people even decide to work from co-working spaces or head off to far-flung destinations. This is all possible, provided you have a high-quality Internet connection and you’re able to stay in touch with the office.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of UK remote workers has shot up by almost a quarter of a million over the last decade. That’s a huge amount of people deciding to leave behind their regular office desk and venture outside the four walls of the office.
So, why is that? What are the benefits of flexible working in terms of staying home to do your work?
- Cuts down on commuting time and therefore reduces your carbon footprint
- Saves you money on fuel, public transport costs and purchasing lunch whilst at work
- Helps to give you a better home and work-life balance, especially if you’re finding working in a regular office difficult due to responsibilities at home, e.g. a young family
- Gives you more flexibility
- May increase your productivity due to a lack of distractions
- You can customise your environment to your needs
- You can wear whatever you want for work!
Check out this infographic which delves a little deeper into the subject.
Source - https://gethppy.com/employee-engagement/working-from-home-is-it-for-you
Of course, obtaining these benefits very much depends on overcoming a few potential pitfalls that may come your way if you’re not careful. By being fully informed of these, you won’t have any nasty surprises and you can make sure that you learn how to be productive when you work from home and that you enjoy the entire process along the way.
Remember, we spend a lot of hours at work, whether that’s physically sat at a designer office desk within a bricks and mortar office or somewhere else entirely, sat with a laptop on your knee. For that reason, you need to be happy and comfortable with your working set up, however you choose to make it work for you. If you don’t enjoy working from an office, for whatever reason, then choosing a flexible working option might be a great route to go down.
What Are the Main Downside of Working From Home?
It’s not all sunshine and roses when you choose to work from home, that’s for sure! There are a few potential downsides and these can be quite troublesome if you fall foul of them. By being aware of what you might encounter, you can put into place a few safety measures to overcome the challenges, and side-step the need to think again on your home working plan.
The main downsides are:
- A risk of feeling lonely or becoming isolated
- Anxiety as a result of a lack of collaboration or company
- Increased distractions, due to low self-control
- Discomfort if you don’t set up a comfortable home office
- Your work may take over your home life if you don’t have set working hours you adhere to
Let’s explore these in turn and work out how you can overcome them.
The risk of loneliness or isolation
If you’re used to working with colleagues or being around people on a daily basis, you might find being alone in a home office setting a bit of a shock at first. This is normal and it’s something you’ll learn to handle or simply get used to, but some people find the quiet environment a little too much to deal with.
As we’ve said before, working from home isn’t for everyone but if you understand that this is a possible issue with this type of working you can assess whether or not you’ll be able to cope with it before you make the jump. You can also work out ways to handle isolation. For example, you can have video calls with the office in order to stay up to date with developments and you should stay in touch with everyone in the office via WhatsApp or email too. It goes without saying that you should be contactable in case of any issues also.
Be sure to get out and go for a walk and surround yourself with people when you’re not working or when you take your breaks too, as this will break up your day.
Anxiety as a result of a lack of collaboration or company
This is similar to the first point. If you’re used to a lot of collaboration and brainstorming around the modern boardroom tables, you might suddenly feel a little anxious that you’re literally there on your own all day long. Again, it comes down to staying in touch with everyone in the office and if you have team meetings, ask to be involved by calling into the office on those days. You could do video calls to be a part of the catch up if this isn’t possible.
Not being present in the office doesn’t mean you can’t be involved with collaboration either. How about setting up a project management app and using that to give your input, Trello and Slack are two good options.
Increased distractions, due to low self-control
Yes, it can be very difficult to side-step those requests for coffee by well-meaning friends or the lure of daytime TV! You might want to sleep in and of course, nobody is going to stop you, but this will mean that you’re late starting work.
Whilst home working means you have fewer distractions in terms of the type you would encourage in a regular working environment, you have very difficult distractions to deal with, and you could argue these are more tempting!
It’s vital that you exercise self-control and you learn to focus on your work. Have regular breaks and make sure that you have start and finish times that you adhere to. Keep the TV off and make sure your friends know that you’re working and not available for a quick chat over coffee!
Check out this video which gives you a few more ideas on how to side-step this particular problem.
Discomfort if you don’t set up a comfortable home office
We’re going to talk in more detail shortly about how to create a comfortable home office, and give you a few home office ideas you might like to emulate, but not having a comfortable spot to work is certainly one of the biggest downsides. It’s super-tempting to sit in bed in your pyjamas and do your work, but your back is going to be wrecked pretty quickly and you’ll probably end up watching TV or falling asleep instead of working!
The only answer here is to look into home office design ideas and create your own workspace.
Your work may take over your home life if you don’t have set working hours you adhere to
It’s easy to not work and it’s easy to work too much. Therefore you need to have set working hours and you need to stick to them rigidly. If you don’t do this, you’re going to find yourself working when you’re supposed to be enjoying time with your family or simply chilling out.
Remember, downtime is just as important as work time, as long as it is enjoyed when you’re not supposed to be working!
Is Working From Home Good For Business?
We know why remote work from home is good for the individual but what about businesses? What is in it for a business to have employees staying at home and not travelling to the office on a daily basis?
Again, there are upsides and downsides, but if we focus on the positives, the main gains are:
- Reduced overheads - Employees not present in the office means less need to heat and light the office to the same degree, no need to buy as much office furniture, etc. Obviously, this is more likely to be the case if the office is a cellular layout and not open plan, but it’s still a cost saver to some degree. All of this will accumulate over the long-term.
- Increased productivity - When employees are able to focus on what they need to do in their home lives more freely, they’re able to be more productive at work because of a lack of pressure and worries. Productivity adds up to profits.
- Increased retention of staff and attracting new talent - Offering flexible working options is known to attract new talent, especially millennials who want to work in a more flexible way. However, by offering your employees the chance to work from home if they want to or need to, you’re helping to retain their services which is key for long-term success.
- Increased quality of work - When employees find a working method which they’re happy with and which helps them to work in a more focused way, they make fewer mistakes and the quality of their work improves. This benefits the end result for the customer and therefore increased productivity and market share for the business.
Of course, it’s important that employees stay in touch with the office at all times and that they have a reliable Internet connection to facilitate the smooth flow of work, but these are easily solved problems in general.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Work From Home
Again, let’s assume that working from home is a choice and not something which has been forced upon you as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, depending upon when you are reading this guide. So, if you’re thinking about whether or not working from home might be an option for you and whether you’re going to actually find it suits your personality, what should you think about?
Let’s check out a few questions you should ask yourself before making a final decision.
- Am I able to side-step distractions by being focused on my work?
- Do I have space to set up a comfortable home office design?
- How will I feel about not being around my office colleagues?
- Do I have a backup plan in case my Internet connection fails? This could be as simple as setting up a mobile hotspot from your phone
- How self-disciplined am I able to be in the face of serious temptation?
Of course, you can never be 100% sure whether home working will be the best choice for you until you try, but you should prepare yourself and really ask yourself some careful questions before you make the leap.
Overall, home working is a method which suits a lot of people, but many people also find it simply doesn’t live up to their expectations. By being honest with yourself, you can ensure that you’re making the right choice from the get-go.
3 Ways to Beat Work From Home Distractions
Distractions are certainly a huge issue when working from home. It could be the housework that’s calling you, daytime TV, the sunny weather outside that makes you want to go for a walk, the odd DIY jobs you feel like finishing, or a friend who insists on calling around and filling you in on the latest gossip.
All of these things can seem far more fun than sitting at your executive office desk and getting your work done. However, if you don’t do this, you’re going to quickly fall behind and as a result, you’ll end up stressed and possibly even in trouble with your employer.
So, how can you avoid distractions or at least minimise them?
- Have regular breaks - If you have regular breaks you’ll be able to balance out your work with moments away from your desk. This will reduce the overwhelming desire to do something more “fun” and you’ll be far more productive as a result.
- Turn off your phone and do not have the TV on in the background - Having your phone on or at least not turning it onto silent means you’re going to hear the beep of every social media notification that comes your way. You can easily become distracted by this, but without a doubt, the lure of the TV is even more overwhelming. Do not turn your TV on!
- Make sure your friends know that you’re working - The very fact that you’re at home can be enough to make some people think that you’re fair game for coffee chats. It might be very tempting to sit there and chat with your friend, but you are actually working. They wouldn’t call around to your office and sit there in front of your desk, would they? So, make sure your friends and family know that you’re working and if they want to come around, make sure they do so on your lunch break.
The longer you try home working, the more you’ll fall into your own routine. You’ll find ways which help you to stay on track, but by following these three tips, you’ll be able to start off on the right footing at least.
8 Tips to Boost Home Working Productivity
Productivity is key! Working from home can both increase it and decrease it, depending upon how well you make the entire endeavour work for you. Obviously, you want to keep productivity high, so how can you make sure that you’re falling on the right side of the line and learn how to work from home in the best possible way?
Let’s check out some productivity tips.
- Have a routine - Make sure you get up at the same time you would if you were heading into the office, get dressed, brush your teeth, do your hair and have your breakfast. This morning routine will get you into the mindset for work and help you to separate home from work. By doing that, your focus will be sharper and you’ll be more productive as a result.
- Have set working hours - If you are able to be flexible with your working hours, create a set time which suits you and stick to it. If you have to work core hours, make sure you stick to them and finish at the same time every day. Again, this is all about mindset and will ensure that you get more done in the time you have.
- Have regular breaks - It can be extremely tempting to sit there and get as much work as possible done, but you need to get up from your designer office chair and have a break! Just as you would if you were working in an office, you need to stand up, stretch, get some exercise, walk around, go and get a coffee and make sure that you have regular breaks. Without this, you’re not going to be able to focus and you’ll make more mistakes.
- Get some fresh air - Make sure your home office is well ventilated and have a window open at all times, wherever possible. You should also try and go outside on your lunch break, weather permitting, in order to boost your focus and give you an active working element to your day.
- Organise your work with storage - You certainly need office storage solutions in your home office, otherwise, everything is going to merge into one and you won’t be able to find anything quickly. By having effective storage systems in place you’ll be far more organised and therefore more productive.
- Make sure your office set up is comfortable - If you choose a regular kitchen chair and try and sit at that with your laptop, you’re going to end up with backache pretty quickly. Remember, you’re working and that means you need a comfortable set up to avoid aches and pains. We’re going to talk about what you need for a comfortable and supportive home office shortly, but this should be on your productivity list, for sure.
- Use a different computer to the one you use for personal reasons - This might sound like a small hint but it’s one which is very effective. If you use your personal computer for work, you’re going to confuse everything and perhaps even lose an important document. You’re also going to be far more tempted to check your personal social media accounts and everything else when you’re working. Have a separate machine and you’ll be in a different mind-frame from the get-go.
- Try time management, such as the Pomodoro Technique - Finding a time management technique that works well for you is key. Many people find the Pomodoro Technique a good one, especially because it encourages regular breaks. Check out the infographic below which outline exactly how this technique works.
Source - https://medium.com/@inkleystudio/how-to-stop-procrastinating-with-this-one-simple-technique-infographic-3b820ca1318d
Keeping an Eye on Your Home And Work-Life Balance
One of the main reasons why people choose to try and work from home is to maintain a better home and work-life balance. The extra flexibility that this type of flexible working arrangement gives you means you can increase your overall job satisfaction, simply because you’re not stressed about the things you need to do in your personal life that you’re not getting the time for. This is one of the reasons why many people choose part-time work from home in particular.
However, what you need to achieve is a degree of separation.
When you are working in your home and living in it too, it’s very easy for the lines to become blurred. You might start thinking about work when you’re supposed to be relaxing, therefore becoming tempted to do a little extra and get ahead of yourself. That might sound like you’re a diligent worker, but it’s vital to have downtime too.
Having a quality home and work-life balance means that you hold importance in both areas of your life - home and work. Neither one is more important than the other and that means having a mind-set which doesn’t allow one to take over your attention to the point where you’re moving more towards work, or more towards your home life.
So, how can you be sure that you’re maintaining that balance?
There is no solid way to measure this, but you need to have regular check-ins with yourself to ensure that your work is being completed to a high quality and that you’re still having time to enjoy yourself and chill out at home. If you feel happy and satisfied and you’re hitting both targets, you can say that you’ve achieved the perfect balance. If you feel out of whack, e.g. one part of your life is lacking and the other is thriving, you need to re-address that balance and ensure the scales are level.
Designing The Ideal Home Office
We’ve mentioned a few times about the importance of having a high quality home office set up, but what exactly does that look like? What are the main boxes you need to tick?
Your home office needs to be/have:
- Separate from your living area - If at all possible, you should site your home office in a completely different room. If you have a spare room then dedicate that to your office and make sure the door remains closed when you’re not working. That gives you a psychological amount of separation that will turn out to be key when trying to achieve that balance we mentioned in the last section. However, if you don’t have a lot of space to create a separate home office, is there an area in your house you can renovate or change a little? How about a conservatory, a loft or even a garage? If not, make sure you place your home office in a corner of a room which you don’t spend a lot of time in, e.g. your dining room.
- Comfortable and supportive - Just because you’re not in an actual office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase office furniture which fits the bill. An ergonomic chair will help you stay comfortable during your working hours, and you can find chairs which don’t look quite so office-y but which still give you the support you need.
- Decorated in an inspiring way - How you decorate your home office is a personal choice, but don’t feel that you need to go down the professional route. As long as your office is comfortable and inspiring to you, you’re free to create any type of space you like! This isn’t like the regular office environment, which needs to be designed in a way which fits certain criteria and creates a positive first impression. So, go wild with your ideas and create a space which really motivates you as an individual.
- Enough storage space - It’s a good idea to have dedicated storage space as this will ensure that you remain organised and certain items don’t go missing! Depending upon where you place your home office, you could have people walking into and around your space and if you have confidential papers, these need to be kept out of sight. For that reason, look into office storage units and other storage options which blend into your home environment.
- The right types of home office furniture - You’re still going to need a professional home office desk, one which has enough space on it for you to work and allows you to be as organised as possible. Be sure to identify the things you need and then shop around for options which fit your design but also allow you to focus on productivity whilst working at home.
These are the main features of a home office which fits the bill, but every single home office will be slightly different. Creating a space which suits you as an individual worker is the aim here, but comfort should always be your number one aim.
To give you a little inspiration, check out this video which outlines a few home office design ideas.
By now you should be brimming with excitement about the idea of working from your home!
The prevalence of work from home jobs these days tells you a lot, and whether you choose to work from home all the time or part of the time, this flexible working option will certainly give you options and allow you to focus on your home and work-life balance, providing you do your best to side-step the downsides.
You’ll find many remote work from home jobs if you search, but you can also ask your employer if this is an option for you. Every employer is bound to consider a flexible working request, but of course, they don’t have to agree to it if it doesn’t make business sense.
If you have found yourself with no option but to work from home due to the Coronavirus outbreak, hopefully, this guide will have allayed your worries about working in a different way. If you’re thinking about working from home generally, we hope this guide has given you all the information you need to make a well-informed decision.