Working from home (also known as workshifting) seems like quite a self-explanatory concept: You dodge the commute, the distractions and the cost of working in an office by opening your laptop at home instead, right? But, there are several aspects you need to consider, whether they are the ergonomics of your new workspace, the equipment, your motivation or your general happiness. So, below, I have put together some tips to help you plan for and successfully work from home!
1. Find out what rights you have
Before you start, find out your rights! If you run a small business at home, you can get reimbursements from the government for various things, such as vehicle running costs, rent, power, legal fees and more. You also have to organise your own payment of taxes, which, if not done properly, can leave you with a nasty bill. It’s best to get clued up on these things with websites such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau that offer support guides and a helpline (so you can learn sooner rather than later).
If you are working for an organisation, find out exactly what equipment they will provide. Your organisation is responsible for data security and may prefer you to save documents on a server that is managed and backed up by your IT department. Your manager may also ask you to perform a health and safety assessment to ensure that you have the appropriate working environment at home. Here is a useful resource for both employees and employers looking to implement a home working policy.
2. Get set up to work
Have you clearly defined a working space? Make sure it is free from clutter and away from people and pets so you will not be distracted easily. Don’t work from the bed or sofa — sit at a table or desk so you feel as though you are at work and can start with the right mentality. Get inspired with these cool office designs.
Next, do you have the right equipment? Make sure you have a supportive chair, functioning devices and anti-virus software to protect confidential information (if needed). Investing in a separate keyboard for your laptop can also be helpful. It gives you the flexibility to move your laptop up to eye level so you aren’t always looking down at your screen (which is bad for your neck).
Make sure you have a clock, a telephone, a notepad and a pen within reach to confine your movements, because if you need to move about, you could get easily distracted. It is also worth having a chat with your IT department (if you have one) to make sure you have access to files on work servers. They may even give you some helpful tips about using your technological equipment and advise you on additional tools such as collaboration workspaces and video conferencing that could be particularly useful.
Do your friends and family know when you are actually working? Make sure they know when you are so you don’t experience too many unexpected interruptions. (The odd chat can be fine — it’s just like bumping into someone in the office kitchen, and it gives your brain and eyes a quick break.)
3. Make a tick list of equipment for when you will be on the move
If you will be working between an office and your home or travelling often, make a checklist (and keep this with you) of things you need to remember to take between locations, such as notes, passwords and your to-do list. Have a backup of the information too, as computers or mobile phones are not always the most reliable devices!
4. Get your whiteboard out to plan your day
Why not invest in a small whiteboard for your home office? When you sit down to start working, without the motivation of colleagues around you, you can plan what needs to be done and work through the list. Chances are, without the general office distractions, you might even get through the whole list!
5. Be social
If your business is just starting and you don’t have an office as the face of the company, it’s important to still have a presence. Take to social sites and blogging to promote the business online and make sure people know you’re there. There are so many platforms now that at least one will work for your business, so experiment and build your reach.
And even if you work for an established business with an office presence, getting social is still a great move. It can help reduce isolation and make you more visible to colleagues and clients. In addition, rather than relying on telephone calls and emails, you can use online meeting software to talk to remote colleagues and connections face to face. This is much more effective in building the team’s communication, morale and relationships, which will help your projects succeed!
6. Take up a hobby or join a club
If you’re working from home, it can become a little lonely. For work, have a look online and find industry or career-specific networking events to meet like-minded people and build your contacts list.
And, for yourself, take up a hobby or join a club to try something new that will get you out of the house regularly. Take advantage of the perks of working from home without losing the social aspect.
Putting it all together
For a long time now, small businesses have started out at home due to the ease of accessibility to work through the Internet. And, with the change in flexible-working laws, more people are splitting their working week between their office and their front room. Therefore, it is so important that you put a process in place for how you will do this.
Use these tips and plan your working space and time correctly so that you can get the best of both worlds!
Have you got any further tips on how you can work from home successfully? Have you got any ideas on how to collaborate with clients and colleagues without having to be in the office five days a week? Please leave a comment below.