I’ve been reading a few guides lately which point out some of the tech and apps that will help you work from home. These guides have grown in popularity following a number of Irish companies telling their employees to work from home. However, while really helpful, these guides are probably more helpful for employers who need to work out what their employees need. So in this guide, I’m going to give you, the employee, some hopefully helpful advice to make working from home a little easier.
Are More People Working From Home?
Generally speaking, tech companies offer working from home or remote working as a draw to bring in additional talent. It’s been increasing in Ireland for years with more traditional companies now jumping on the bandwagon too. Today, 6.5% of workers in Ireland have the option to work from home. While it’s beneficial for companies to attract the best employees, remote working also offers unique protections for employers too.
Working from home has become an important fallback position for companies facing the possibility of a mass requirement for remote working in the event that something should happen in Ireland. Right now, companies like Google, Indeed, Primark and Vodafone are running test scenarios to see how remote-ready they are and I fully expect this to increase. It’s financially responsible for companies to test how ready they are for mass remote working.
The problem with most guides I’ve read so far is that they focus on the tech required to allow people to work from home. It’s up to employers to make sure their staff have things like laptops, WiFi, VPNs and messaging apps. If you’re told to work from home, your employer likely has arranged all of this and started telling you to bring home your laptop every night in case they make the decision overnight that you shouldn’t come to the office.
Employers are missing one massive element – helping staff work efficiently from home
But in concentrating on the physical infrastructure required to enable people to work from home, employers are missing one massive element – helping staff work efficiently from home.
Tips To Help You Work Efficiently From Home
With all that said, here are some tips to help you work more efficiently from home.
Commute To Your Home Office
You’ve heard it said before, but humans are creatures of habit. For me, I wake up at the same time, snooze for the same amount of time and even spend the same amount of time scrolling through Twitter before jumping in the shower and walking to the office. I’ve found the odd time that I work from home that one of the hardest parts is getting started because I’m breaking my morning routine.
I just spotted this tip on Twitter and I love it.
Here's a tip that my remote team does – When you get up in the morning, if you're willing and able, try COMMUTING to your home office! Go for a circle around your neighborhood and arrive back home to your home/remote office! It psychologically marks the start and end of the day.
— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) March 7, 2020
There are so many positives when it comes to commuting to your own home office. It keeps your routine in order, gets you some fresh air and lets you grab a coffee on the way home too if you like. That might even mean a small face to face social interaction with someone.
Now, obviously, if you drive to the office don’t just in the car. Just walk around the block where you live or go for a twenty-minute stroll. Do all of this before you even go near your laptop or check emails.
Actually Use Video Conferencing
All of my webcams are covered. I love tech, but I do hate when a salesperson insists on a Skype call and my webcam kicks in. However, in the event your entire office is suddenly remote working, video conferencing properly can be really important. First of all, you’d be surprised how often a visual cue helps someone understand what you’re saying. It can really help to get a point across.
Arguably, even more important is the social element of keeping in touch with other people. Remote working does bring with it a disconnection with your colleagues. It’s easy for a problem to turn into everyone becoming a keyboard warrior where problems used to be solved with a kind face-to-face desk drop.
Arrange a video lunch with a colleague to catch up
If you find yourself without a reason to video call anyone, why not arrange a video lunch with a colleague to catch up?
Actually, on that point.
Be Sure To Take Your Breaks
Part routine and part avoiding burnout. Personally, I’ve noticed that I remember to take a break around half-past five. Yup, when I should be finishing up! If you work with your feet up and the telly on, you can easily work away for the day without realising time is slipping away.
Add your lunch break to your calendar or, like I mentioned above, arrange a video lunch date with a colleague.
Organise A Work Space
I’m not going to tell you to work from a dedicated room, from your kitchen table, from your couch or your bed. Because there’s no right or wrong place to work from when you’re working from home. I live in a one-bed apartment and space is a premium. Without thinking about it, I initially worked on the couch. After a few hours, I could tell this wasn’t impacting efficiency too much, but the couch wasn’t ergonomic at all.
That’s why I now make the effort to take out the folding dining table. This gives me two options regards my workspace as I can sit at the table to stand while using my Deskmate standup desk.
Have you ever really enjoyed eating lunch at your desk?
Perhaps even more important is the fact that this now means I have the couch to move to for lunch or when I want to take a quick break. Keeping work and break space separate is also of psychological importance. Think about it. Have you ever really enjoyed eating lunch at your desk?
Tidying And Other Chores Are For Your Breaks
Working from home doesn’t mean housework.
If you need to put on a wash or need to do the dishes, this should be done before work, during lunch or after work. Try to treat things like the housework as you would when you’re in the office. Of course, if the dishes are staring at you and impacting your work, prioritise doing them during your lunch break, but not when you’re supposed to be on a conference call with your boss. Remember, particularly if you’re working in a small space, that turning on the washing machine could be rather annoying if you need to sit working near it for the next two hours.
It’s really important that you communicate really clearly with your housemates or family that this is still worktime. Obviously, you’re not a robot, but ensuring everyone knows you have a really important deadline to meet will give you a better chance of focus. If you do expect to share your space, getting some noise cancelling headphones might be an idea too.
Take Advantage Of Being Home
Hitting a slump? Jump in the shower.
Can’t solve a problem? Go for a walk outside.
Hungry, grab a snack from the fridge.
You’re at home! While a lot of what I’ve said so far is about replicating habits to try and trick your brain into thinking it’s in a routine, use your surroundings. The best feeling in the world is knowing you’re feeling that slump vibe that hits you in the office, but also knowing you can take twenty and grab a shower. Trust me, it’s amazing.
The one thing to watch out for is the likes of snacking. With no one else around you’ll probably feel less conscious about grabbing a hape of snacks. Try to keep an eye on going overboard with the no eyes being on you!
Do A Dry Run
I’m going to finish on this point. Talk to your employer and ask them if you can do a dry run working from home. This means working from home when you can still go to the office should you hit any snags.
Alternatively, take your things home on the weekend and set aside ten minutes to test your setup. Take back this time through a quick break when you actually work from home.
Depending on your business, working from home could require quite a few things to align. Particularly fussy are businesses with closed systems where you require a VPN or RSA token to access the corporate network. Ensuring you have all of this in working order is crucial to successful remote working. In the event your entire office is told to work from home, you can be sure a large number of people will have issues. This means increased IT support tickets and longer response times to your problem.
If you can remedy these problems before a mass work from home protocol is enacted, you’ll safe yourself a lot of stress.
Have some tips that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below and we might add them to this article.