Our Home Critics work from home every day. Not their homes, but the homes of our hosts and potential hosts. So they know a thing or two about how to make working from home work for you. Provided you’re not a brain surgeon or airline pilot, that is. But for those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to do our jobs from the comfort of our homes, it can be a welcome change of routine and, if done properly, it can even improve our productivity.
Here are a few top tips from our Home Critics:
1. Have a designated work space
An obvious starting point is to actually have a space where you can separate work life from home life. If you have a converted shed in the garden or a study, that’s great. But even a quiet corner or an alcove will do, provided that if anyone else is at home with you they respect this space as your office. That includes the cat.
2. Make your bed
Without being too prescriptive about things, making your bed has been proven to put you in a task-orientated headspace when working from home. An unmade bed is suggestive of weekends and downtime, plus it can also be terribly tempting to sneak back into. And that won’t end well at all. So make your bed and get on with your day.
3. Have a dress code
Get dressed as if you’re going to the office. Even if you’re at home alone. This will put you in the right frame of mind, and who knows when the boss will video call without warning? You don’t want to be caught out in your dressing-gown and slippers, do you?
4. Take regular breaks
Sometimes when people work from home they feel the need to work even longer hours than they do at the office, just to prove to their boss or colleagues that they’re not goofing off. Stop. Being. Paranoid. Stick to your normal office hours and take regular breaks. If you don’t, you risk burning yourself out and turning your home into a place where there are no boundaries between work life and office life. And that’s just not healthy or sustainable.
5. Keep in video contact with colleagues
Video calls with colleagues are not only a good reason to get dressed in the morning, they can also help boost morale during stressful times, especially if you’re not used to being on your own all day long. Just because you’re not at the office doesn’t mean you’re not still part of a team. A daily team chat by video can help ensure you’re all working cohesively, that you’re there for one another and that you’re changing your clothes every day.
6. Eat well
You’re at home, alone with your own kitchen. And a fully stocked larder. What could possibly go wrong? Try to avoid the temptation of cooking yourself three course, gourmet breakfasts. And lunches. On the other hand, don’t gobble your food straight out of a Tupperware while hunched over the kitchen sink in your underwear. Do, however, take a proper lunch break, away from your desk, and with other people, if there are other people working from home with you. This will add structure to your day and help you to pace yourself.
Use the time when you would normally be commuting to run, do yoga, walk the dog or whatever exercise it is you enjoy. Getting out of your home and taking in some fresh air and scenery will ensure you’re wide-awake when you sit down at your desk. Whatever you do, don’t let your morning ‘commute’ descend into a sleepy stumble from your bed to your desk.
8. Avoid the TV
So you’ve fixed yourself a sandwich for lunch and you decide to chill on the couch and catch up on some TV news. Four hours later you wake up with peanut butter in your hair and realise you missed that crucial conference call with your client. Nice. Do not touch the TV. TVs are needy. TVs want you to sit and watch them all day. You need to be strong. Resist all TV until after working hours.
9. Know when to switch off
Make sure you have distinct boundaries between work and home time. At the end of the day close your laptop, change your clothes, use the time you would normally use to commute home to take a walk and wind down. Finding a healthy balance will keep you motivated and prevent you from burning out.
10. Stay safe
We all know about a certain airborne virus. After all, it’s why we’re working from home. But there are other viruses you should also be aware of: the ones that can invade your computer systems. Our home internet connections are not always as well protected as the ones we use at work. Make sure you’re using secure sites and passwords. Hackers, phishers and scammers would love nothing better than to infiltrate your home network.
11. Enjoy it
Working from home is a luxury that not everyone can experience. So appreciate how lucky you are. But don’t abuse it. Yes, you can eat as many tuna sandwiches and boiled eggs as you like without offending your colleagues. But treat your working hours with respect, while still enjoying the comforts of home, like sitting in the garden or by an open window, or drinking coffee from your favourite mug that no one else can steal. What bliss.
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