When art girls think of working from home, sleeping in late, slumping it in your pjs and long leisurely lunches usually spring to mind. But even though working from home offers a great amount of flexibility, it still requires professionalism. Cutting out the miserable commute does sound like a dream, but it can be difficult to stay focused with so many distractions and temptations around.
So, here are our top ten tips on how to work from home successfully when you are allowed the luxury.
1.Identify what needs to get done every day and make sure to do it. Time to get organised!
Sustaining balance is one of the most tough parts of working at home, because the work never seems to end. To keep you on track, organisation is key. Plan your day by creating schedules and to-do lists and file away all your paperwork to keep on top of things.
2. Be computer savvy
Since a lot of your work may be done on your computer, you will need to be computer savvy and should learn how to keep your computer running smoothly. A broken-down computer or Internet connection means no work getting done, so you will need to be able to navigate your way around tech issues.
3. Avoid home distractions
Dodge the fridge and your comfy bed. Pets, the gram and family members are just a few other distractions you’ll also come across when you start working at home. Planning ahead will be key, being organised by doing all your errands in your free time and having readily available snacks for consumption will stop you from procrastinating. Turn Netflix off, put a self-ban on social media and having a separate office space can also help diminish distractions, but at the end of the day it is up to you to stay focused without someone telling you what to do.
4. Improve your communication skills to stay in the loop
You will need to have excellent communication skills when working remotely to stay in the loop. You won’t have the visual and verbal aids that normally help guide you through your workday like in the office. Although phones, and software like WhatsApp and Skype make it easy for people to stay in touch, most of your communication will be done via e-mail. You will need to make sure that you are able to covey what you mean clearly. Make sure to create a timetable for each of the day’s activities and set office hours and limitations. This will help with communicating to others when your work time and availability for a chat is.
5. Take breaks and get out the house occasionally
When making your schedule, you might want to consider working in small chunks of time to allow yourself time to get up from the computer to stretch out those limbs. This will really help you both physically and mentally, and will make you more productive. Without a coffee machine and co-workers around, you may forget to take time away from your workload. The best way to do this is by getting out of the house. Set up outside meetings instead of chatting on the phone if possible. Take your work to your local café where there is access to fast Wi-Fi to change things up and to create a sense of business community. Leaving your house to work will also help separate your work time and personal time.
6. Don’t handle personal tasks during work hours
That washing up can wait until the end of the day. And avoid those friends who are fun-employed or visiting from out of town, tempting you away from your work. Make sure that you are focused on the best and making proper use of your time during your work hours. All too often people who work remotely are taken advantage of by others or forget you actually are ‘working’. You might have a neighbour who wants you pick up their missed amazon delivery or a friend who wants you to babysit for the day. Agreeing to help out all the time will not only distract you from your work, but it sets the tone for people to ask you the same favors again, and again, and again. You need to be able to say no and stick to your schedule. So let others know when your office hours are, and that you’re not available during these times with no excuses.
7. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Working at home tends to make some people inactive with the close proximity to the kitchen and all, so weight gain can be a problem for many. Make sure to schedule time for regular exercise, keep healthy snacks around the house and remember to keep hydrated.
8. Have a set workspace
Create a space within your home to become an office and keep all work-related items there. Try not to make it near a bed or a TV and ensure that your office space matches that of a true work environment. Keep in mind that your office space may be seen as the backdrop of the occasional video conference call so make sure it looks professional and pleasant.
9. Stay connected and check in with co-workers and the boss several times a day
Make sure that you’re readily available via e-mail, phone, text, instant message, Skype and/or conference call. If you work from home most of the time, suggest weekly or monthly meetings with your boss and/or your team. Invite them to lunch regularly, organise after work activities like gallery openings to keep inspired and engaged.
10. Invest in great equipment
It’s important to make sure you have all the equipment you need to run your business, including a fast computer, a scanner, printer, copier and a reliable backup system, for starters. The key to saving time and money on equipment is to know what you need, what you can do without, and where to find technical support. Remember to keep the supplies you use often within reach. When you have to leave your desk to find supplies or files, you waste time and get distracted easily.
Text by Peigi Mackillop