Over recent weeks, the discussion about social distancing has led to many of us considering homeworking for the first time. If you can get your employer on board then working from your home is a great way to avoid crowded public transport or dirty offices. And, crucially, homeworking can help you to avoid taking time off work. If you’re stuck at home with a cough and otherwise well, but worried that statutory sick pay won’t cover your expenses, then arranging to work from home will help you avoid taking a financial hit.
However, if you’re not used to it then you might be surprised by just how different working from the comfort of your home is. It’s really easy to get distracted by housework, or to start daydreaming off into a productivity slump. Here are some quick tips to keep you productive – who knows, it may even bring your boss around to the idea of flexible working long-term!
Hold yourself accountable
You can do this by setting yourself clear, simple goals each day and sharing them with your team. Whether it’s a colleague that you’re friendly with or your manager, telling somebody your plans for the day means there’ll be someone to answer to. Try having a partner who you check in with a couple of times each day: share goals in the morning and celebrate achieving them in the afternoon. If you don’t meet your goals that’s okay, but the need to explain why will ensure that you have a good reason.
Draw clear boundaries
One of the dangers of remote working is that the lines between your home and work life begin to blur. You end up working late into the evening, but never really getting into the flow of your work. Avoid this by defining two things very clearly: your working hours and your working space. If you can avoid working from the sofa or bed then this will help, as you’ll be keeping work and personal life separate, despite their shared space.
Use noise-cancelling headphones
Noise-cancelling headphones are a joy to office workers who want to block out the distracting noise of gossiping colleagues, and they can fulfil much the same purpose when you’re working from your kitchen table. Plug into some tunes – or white noise if you find music distracting – and block the rest of the world out.
Choose a different browser
This is a trick that can help you avoid drifting onto timewasting sites like YouTube when you should be hard at work. Use two separate browsers for work and play: you can keep your bookmarks and plug-ins separate, block distracting sites on your ‘work browser’, and create some mental distance between the two.
Plan for tomorrow
Starting the day without a clear idea of what your focus should be is a sure way to open yourself up to more distractions. Instead, spend 10 minutes or so at the end of each day writing down a few priorities for the next morning. This means you can get started straight away, getting your brain into work mode much quicker.
Check in with your team often
Last but not least, make sure you continue having regular meetings and catch-ups with your colleagues. If working from home is relatively new to your company, then you might not have the best tech setup yet. Sit down as a team and work out what your communication needs are – do you want to be able to have daily video meetings, or is an instant messaging tool for quick updates more important? Find tools that are right for your team, and use them to check in often.