By now we’ve all seen the hilarious ‘BBC Dad’ interview which saw one unfortunate employee embarrassingly broadcast the antics of his children to millions of viewers across the world. Fortunately for the family involved, everyone has seen the funny side, but it does raise the question ‘how do businesses ensure their workers are operating from a productive working space when working from home?’
After all, for many organizations, allowing employees to work from home can prove highly beneficial. It can help save valuable overhead costs, which are better invested into strategic areas of the business and also saves workers from having to commute long hours every day. Get remote working right and businesses are onto a winner, fail to provide the right guidelines, however, and businesses will find their workforce struggling to reach the same productivity levels that they would when working in the office.
Learning from the mistakes of the BBC dad combined with lessons on productivity, there are key considerations for the ‘at-home’ worker:
Define a Working Space
Psychologists allege that a windowless office could cost you 46 minutes of sleep a night, so the environment is everything. The condition of your working area is naturally going to affect the quality of your output, so it’s important to ensure you have plenty of space and natural light, if possible. Working in a cramped area with uncomfortable seating will hinder productivity. Make sure your table, desk and especially chair, are comfy and fit your needs. At work, employers tend to provide furniture, which is ergonomically designed to improve your health and comfort, so make sure you do the same. More recently, standing desks and split keyboards offer additional health benefits and are relatively cost-effective.
Working at home offers a lot more freedom than working in an office. Your space belongs to you, and you have total control over what you keep in your immediate area. An ordered stationery cupboard and filing drawer will ensure you don’t have to hunt around the house for that elusive paper clip or document, while a personal printer will make life a lot easier. Keep some personal items around your working space too; you don’t want to feel like you’ve taken your work office home with you. It’s important to make sure your office area has everything you need but isn’t cluttered—especially if you take regular video calls. It’s best to keep the camera clear of any mess or clutter to ensure a certain level of professionalism when working from home.
Set Some Boundaries
When working from home, the boundaries of work and personal life tend to blend into one another. It’s a good idea to inform your boss, your colleagues, and anyone else who might be in and around the home (particularly pesky children) what your working hours are. Sometimes establishing those time-related boundaries by adding them into your calendar, or perhaps setting an alarm to alert you when your allotted work hours are up. Additionally, closing down any urgent email conversations and taking half an hour at the close of each day to set up priorities for the next will help to compartmentalize work from your personal time.
Establish Home-Working Habits
It’s easy when working from home to sit for hours on end staring at your computer screen. You aren’t distracted by colleagues or moving around the office into various meetings. It’s therefore really important to take regular breaks.
Likewise, if you know there are going to be other people around, schedule specific times for your breaks so you don’t spend too much of your day distracted. Set rules, and make sure you aren’t going to be interrupted, especially if you’re on a deadline or expecting an important call. If you’re waiting for a delivery, make sure you are prepared in advance—there’s nothing worse than being on a call and having a knock at the door.
Remember, however, that you wouldn’t spend all day at work alone in one room. If you have the ability to talk to family or go for a walk, do so. Just make sure it’s during a scheduled break!
Implement Useful Technology
Having the right technology in place is key to successful home working. In a world which requires 24/7 connectivity, you must ensure that you have the capability to stay connected regardless of location. Having access to the internet is the start. Make sure you have fast and reliable broadband to avoid disconnects and lag.
Implementing a relevant conferencing solution is also crucial so you can stay connected—whether it’s video or phone, having access to colleagues and customers at the click of a button is essential. You will need to have regular ‘face to face’ meetings, and share and edit documents via the cloud. Make sure you download any relevant apps which allow you to do this quickly and easily.
Technology which allows for quick and effective connectivity between the home and the office is easily accessible, and it will ensure that working at home is trouble-free.