There are a number of reasons to work from home; from flexible working hours to avoiding the dreaded daily commute. And whereas it used to be seen as a byword for slacking off, studies have shown that people are as productive when they’re working from home as when they’re in the office, if not more so!
One company revealed that their home-workers completed 13.5% more calls than the office-based employees, meaning that the corporation got almost an extra workday out of them- per week! As well as this, the remote staff also left the company at half the rate of the people who worked from the office, and reported a much higher job satisfaction.
Businesses are beginning to catch on to the benefits of allowing employees to work from home, and are endorsing it more and more. Not only could it save SMEs money on space and furniture, but it could also greatly increase the talent pool as location becomes less of an issue.
If you’re thinking of working from home, or employ someone who is, then these tips could help you to make the right decision and show you everything you need to know about creating the perfect workspace in your home.
1. Set aside a space specifically for work
A significant difficulty of working from home is keeping motivated with so many distractions around you. This is why it’s essential to create a (very!) private workspace.
Shut the door, maybe even dress for work; anything so long as it feel like a work day. Otherwise before you know it you’ll have spent 48 hours on the sofa in your pyjamas, answering emails between episodes of Come Dine With Me, and your boss will want to know what happened to that assignment.
2. Set boundaries with family and friends
A common problem with working from home is that you suddenly become permanently available in the eyes of your family and friends. This is why it’s important to be firm and set a precedent right from the start. Set your Skype to ‘invisible’, come off Facebook and politely explain that you are ‘at work’ even though you may not be in the office.
3. Schedule breaks
With so many distractions around you, it’s easy to find your mind wandering. But one of the great things about working from home is the freedom to work at a pace and style that suits you.
Rather than trying to fight the compulsion to check Facebook or Twitter, take regular 10 minute breaks where you can get a drink and catch up with your social sphere. Then after the 10 minutes are up, you can get back to work.
These short breaks can help enormously- just don’t let your 10 minute break turn into two hours!
4. Create a routine
Set your alarm and get up at the same time every morning. Get dressed, make your bed, eat breakfast. Behave as if you’re going to work – because- you are! Having a schedule like this can really prepare you for work and make you feel disciplined and full of energy for the day ahead.
Once you’ve finished work for the day, it’s important that you switch off your computer. Don’t just close the lid of your laptop or put your PC into sleep mode; physically shut it down – and do not touch it again until the morning.
This provides a clear cut-off point for when work ends and personal time begins so you’ll be able to give your eyes and your head a well-earned break. It also makes the compulsion to “just check your emails” mid-way through the evening a lot more difficult. Your home is your sanctuary and you need to draw a clear line between work and home life in order to retain that balance.
5. Keep in touch
Make sure you stay in touch with colleagues, especially on days when there’s no face to face contact booked in. Even though you’re out of the office, don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining workplace relationships.
This can be as easy as sending a friendly IM, having a quick chat over the phone or meeting up for lunch or a coffee. You should also try to attend company events whenever possible. In this digital age it’s easier than ever to network electronically, but there’s no replacement for good quality, person to person interaction.