Are you yet to embrace your right to flexible working? If so, now could be the perfect time – today marks the start of National Work From Home Week!
There are a lot of common misconceptions about ‘working from home’ (as identified in our recent blog post), and a lot of uncertainty on the part of both workers and businesses alike. But with a little bit of discipline and understanding, you can have just as productive a work day at home as you would in the office, if not more so! We’ve put together a handy ‘essential starter kit’ of the items you need to make your Work From Home Week a productive one.
A desk (and comfortable chair)
It sounds basic, but there’s a reason you have one at work. While working from the comfort of your bed and/or sofa may sound appealing, from a practical perspective it’s not ideal for your posture or for your work mentality. Select a tidy, well-lit area of your home or room where you can set up a desk space and a proper chair.
A room with a view
A well-lit area will avoid you having to rely on artificial computer-screen light, and will help keep you alert and focused. As mentioned in our ‘perfect desk’ post, natural views or landscape images help with concentration and relieve stress, so if you’re lucky enough to have a garden view, take advantage of it.
A plan and a schedule
Be that a to-do list on your notepad or a whiteboard by your workspace; make a to-do list as you would at your normal desk, and stick to it. Make sure to factor in breaks to help reward yourself for staying disciplined. Keep to your work hours and focus on your tasks when you know you’re more naturally productive. Potentially, this time out of the office could help you better understand your natural working rhythm, which you can use to your advantage when you’re back in the office.
Some background noise
Offices are generally noisy places – from the low-level hum of computers and click of keyboards to the full blown noise of chatter and gossip. While the absence of that kind of noise is likely a welcome relief, ambient background noise is essential as it is a good motivational yet calming influence. Put on your playlist, and take advantage of the ability to play it at full volume from your speakers!
A link to the outside world
Speaking of speakers, if you’re working at home for the full week you’ll inevitably need to have calls with clients or colleagues, and a web conference system means you can get the face time you usually have even if you’re not in the office. Especially if you’re WFH the whole week, having these calls is essential to avoid you getting lonely or losing focus. If you’re a manager and your team are working from home this week, perhaps scheduling a mid-week check-in with them is a good way to make sure they’re motivated, focused and happy.
A backup plan
Don’t panic; it’s only in an IT sense. If you’re working from home on an office machine (or connecting to an office server using your own computer), make sure you have up-to-date security software on it to keep your business documents and data protected (this might even be your company’s policy). It’s also worth saving copies of any vital documents that you need to work on that day to a USB stick, desktop (if it complies with your business’ policy), or upload them to a secure cloud-based file sharing and storage solution such as Sharefile to make sure you can still access the files you need in the event of an unforeseen IT issue.
A supply of tea bags
While you won’t have to negotiate the politics of carrying multiple cups of tea for your colleagues, pre-stocking the cupboard with a supply of your usual workplace snacks at the start of the week will mean you can treat yourself as you would at work, and alleviate the need to dash to the shops during the day.
A down-time activity
Especially important if working in your home environment, factoring in some time to get up from your ‘desk’ and get away from it is important. Working at your kitchen table? Be sure to eat lunch elsewhere in the house, or get out and go for a walk to clear your head and refocus for the afternoon. Resist the temptation to switch on the TV – pick up a book and give your eyes a rest from the screen.
Have we missed anything from our list? Let us know what’s in your essential work from home kitlist in the comments below or on Twitter!
Recommended eBook: Working from home: Top tips for making it work