Whether it’s in the midst of a global pandemic, or just with the goal of maintaining a better work-life balance, if you find yourself working from home, the rules are generally the same across the board. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of tips and advice to keep you as productive as possible and keep your workflow moving.
If your office job is 9am - 6pm with an hour for lunch, then maintain those hours as best you possibly can. Even if your boss is easy going, and just happy to receive your work by a given deadline, these hours are in place to benefit you. There’s nothing worse than falling down the slippery slope, the end of which involves you spending all day playing Call of Duty, then finishing off your workload at 11pm each night. Discipline across the board is key - and that goes for creating boundaries too. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re available to help out with that pitch at any given time of the day.
When it comes to working from home, it’s not as simple as the stock photos might have you believe - especially for parents who might face regular interruptions and demands. The key to maintaining best work practices is creating discipline and structure and that goes double for your desktop. If you’re tempted to open random tabs in your browser, find the right app or plug-in to block them. Also, creating a new login to your computer so you can access and manage your work files with ease is important. This is also where that dedicated space will come into play - but more on that later.
Maintaining good work relationships is essential, perhaps not always for getting the job done - that all depends on the task at hand - but certainly when it comes to communication within a team. Carve out time to check in with your co-workers; find time for a post-meeting chat or even a digital drinks session if you can’t be there in person. It’s a great way of gaining more insight into the workings of the business, and how you can best contribute - as well as paves the way for maintaining your sanity when times get busy or tough!
Working from home can restrict your daily movement considerably, which can in turn affect your mood and energy levels. Even if you have a stationary desk job, don’t underestimate those extra steps you’ll have accrued walking to the bus stop or going to the local shop to pick up your lunch. Take your breaks as scheduled and spend them away from your desk, incorporating some movement if possible. Don’t underestimate the toll that sitting in one place and staring at a screen can have on your body.
When it comes to online meetings, professionalism and courtesy is vital. Even in a larger group conference call, it’s not the done thing to munch on a bowl of cheerios while carrying on a conversation with your partner when your colleague is talking. If this is a meeting that really doesn’t apply to you, don’t be afraid to flag this, and just follow up with the minutes/highlights afterwards. If this is something that you absolutely have to be involved in, then be present. Make sure your mic and camera are working and be ready to contribute where appropriate.
If there’s one major difference when it comes to working from home, it’s that you can’t simply knock on your colleague's door and ask them those mundane daily questions, such as: ‘Where is that file located?’ or ‘Have you been chatting with the client about their numbers?’ and those bigger questions, such as asking for a raise, or support in an area you need it, are hard to bring up at the best of times. This is where maintaining a good relationship with your boss and team comes into play. Just because you’re at home, doesn't mean that you’re off the grid, and there’s plenty of free technology out there to facilitate this; check out Discord, Slack or the vast number of other options available to make sure you stay connected and don't get left behind!
Once you have your schedule locked into place and are happy with your daily routine, this is the perfect time to introduce an online training course, or some practical learning to your working from home regime. You can use this time to hone your Excel ability, or even to complete the professional CBD or Postgrad that you’ve had on your bucket list for years now. Discuss this with your boss today, as many companies or businesses might be able to provide you with a training bursary.
Your immediate environment has a big impact on your productivity - so think hard when compiling that list of items you need, be it a potted plant, a desk, a comfortable chair, a screen at just the right height, and find a space in your home where you will face minimal interruptions. And perhaps most important: if it’s at all possible, make sure this isn’t the same space you’ll be relaxing in with your loved ones later as you could find yourself checking work emails after dinner, or just finishing off one final thing when you should be winding down for bed. We can't stress this enough, maintaining those boundaries are so important for creating a sustainable and efficient relationship with your job.
We’re all human, we all make mistakes or procrastinate from time-to-time. Don’t set yourself up for failure by beating yourself up over a simple error. The important thing to remember is that this is a process. Keep on track, and don’t be afraid to reach out if you find yourself struggling at any point.
We hope you find those tips helpful. If you need additional help or support or want to take the next step in your career, make sure to join us for the next Jobs Expo event.