In April last year, the folks at The Guardian asked a very loaded question ‘Why aren’t we all working from home today?’ and it resonated with us.
20 years ago such a query would have been met with a sharp snort of incredulity, but in the hyper-connected world of 2014, this was a very worthy question to tackle; indeed why aren’t we all working from home today?
Twelve months on and the situation has little improved; the career revolution of remote working or ‘telecommuting’ to give it its more trendy title, simply hasn’t come to pass. Of course there are a large number of people who do work remotely for their job, but this seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Indeed most people’s experiences of telecommuting is restricted to times when they simply have no other choice, for example when tube strikes or snow make actual commuting a nightmarish impossibility.
Employer’s lack of trust, promotion paranoia, and necessity, are all sound reasons explored in The Guardian discussion, but we are inclined to suggest also that employee’s lack of experience is a key factor in why more people haven’t requested this pillar of flexible working.
For many, ‘remote working’, ‘telecommuting’ or whatever you want to call it, remains something of an alien concept; an option to be explored when it becomes more mainstream, but not the domain of timid pioneers such as them.
This is a real shame, since the benefits of working from home (occasionally at least) are numerous, both in terms of your career and your personal life. To aid in your exploration of the possibilities, we have put together some of our key advice on remote working – a little something to mull over, if you think it might be a possibility for you.
Create a Productive Work Environment
This is often the biggest error that people working from home make, and mostly it is caused by a simple lack of preparation. Just as you need a highly functional space within your office, this is also an essential element when working from home.
One key misconception that employers and employees hold with regards to remote working is that it is less productive than its more traditional counterpart. The compartmentalising of our lives into very well defined ‘work’ and ‘life’ categories erodes our ability to create crossovers between the two; leaving our perception of ‘home’ as a place where working simply doesn’t work.
Creating a fresh working environment, with well defined boundaries within your home is the first stride towards making remote working a part of your regular routine. To make sure that it is as conducive to productivity as possible, think about some of the following.
- Separate your working environment from the rest of the home to aid you in developing a ‘work’ mentality whenever you are within it
- If you haven’t already, get yourself a desk with ample storage space to fulfil your working needs
- Take care to decorate your workspace appropriately; making sure that it is a pleasant, yet focussed environment to be in.
- Be sure to remove all distractions which are not found within your regular office such as televisions and radios, which could prove to be a tempting distraction when alone.
- On the other hand, many people find the silence of working alone at home to be distracting, so make sure that you have something available to fill the gap should the need arise
- Make sure that the space you have chosen is suitable to become a long-term option for working in, with access to all the utilities you will need as well as plenty of light / fresh air.
Create a Daily Structure and stick to it
Just as creating a proper working environment is essential in nurturing the correct mindset for working from home, so too is the creation and implementation of a comprehensive and overarching work schedule.
We don’t mean that you need to plan and account for every second of your work day, but you need to implement a schedule which is as definitive and robust as that to which you keep in your regular office.
You should do everything you can to adhere to these parameters, as they will help to create a mindset which is focused upon targets and completing tasks within set timeframes.
Make sure you keep a clear head by taking regular breaks as you would in your office and make sure that you are getting out of the house for some fresh air as well.
Get the right hardware and software
You owe your very ability to work from home to the modern technologies, which are at your disposal; it is crucial therefore that you utilise all available hardware and software to their fullest potential.
Nothing will impede your ability to work as effectively at home as you do in the office than subpar technology; you will end up wasting time, effort, and negating many of the advantages which come with remote working in the first place.
We have found a great little infographic care of Nuance which goes into good detail about this issue, suggesting and exploring some of the ways that you can make the most of the utilities at your disposal.
Things like selecting light / robust equipment, utilising cloud computing, making use of PDFs to aid collaboration, and choosing the right mobile technologies, might seem rather pedestrian but actually form the bedrock of your activities when working from home.
Dress for work
Dressing properly to work from home might seem like something of a ridiculous notion, and whilst you might like to spend your remote working days lazing around in your PJs this will do nothing for your productivity.
Again, it is all about doing everything you can to ensure the correct frame of mind for working from home; otherwise it can be all too easy to slip into lazy and counterproductive habits. This also helps to contribute to the structure of your day by allowing you to stick to your normal routine, and will also aid relaxation when you get back into casual clothing after work hours.
Additionally, dressing well for remote working means that you are completely free to take part in video calls without concern that your attire might make you look unprofessional.
Establish the Ground Rules
If there are other people in your home during working hours, it is important that you make them fully appreciate that although you are at home, you are officially on the clock and therefore will not be able to spend time with them as you normally would. This can often be a sensitive issue to breach, but unfortunately it is necessary so that you can enjoy uninterrupted work time whilst at home.