Opinion

The Dos and Don’ts of Working From Home

Many employers see the benefits too; it helps retain staff, boosts productivity and cut costs - a vital factor in today’s economy.  In fact, BT reports that 20% of home-workers are more productive than office-based colleagues.

Not only that, but according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) almost two thirds of UK companies now offer teleworking – a staggering 46% rise in the last five years. It’s clear home-working is on the up!

If you’d prefer to work in your slippers all day and enjoy homemade lunches, there are a few simple dos and don’ts you should follow to make it work for you and your employer…

Do

  • Have a to-do list. Procrastination is the evil twin of home-working! So to avoid getting sucked into the washing up, laundry or other household chores, stay focused. Note your daily priorities, keep your work diary up to date and stick to your work duties just as you would in the office.
  • Communicate. Because you can’t talk to colleagues face-to-face you might need to plan ahead to communicate effectively. This isn’t a bad thing; you’ll probably discover you answer your own questions or your enquiries become more focused and are, therefore, easier for colleagues to respond to. Also, tell people when you’re away from your computer for the school pick-up, meetings or personal appointments.
  • Get regular exercise. Without your regular walk or cycle to work or access to the office gym, you could find that working from home disrupts your usual fitness routine. So sign up to local classes or stick on an exercise DVD or YouTube video at lunchtime. You can even do yoga stretches in the privacy of your garden!

Don’t

  • Work in your pyjamas all day.  Apart from not wanting to be caught out with an unexpected video call from your boss whilst in your paisley-patterned PJs, wearing something presentable and comfortable will put you in a more productive frame of mind. Don’t worry - it doesn’t have to be the full suit and tie!
  • Work in isolation. Lack of office camaraderie can be isolating, so make sure you enjoy a little email, phone or Skype repartee. But don’t let it eat into your work time and keep it friendly - without seeing body language, messages can be easily misinterpreted and can seriously backfire!
  • Slack-off. Your line manager won’t be looking over your shoulder so you need to be self-motivated! Don’t take advantage of your employer’s trust otherwise you could lose this privilege not only for yourself but also for your colleagues.
  • Work in bad conditions. Finding space in your own home for your ‘office’ could be a challenge, so get good advice about setting things up in a way that won’t damage your health. A decent chair, foot rest and stand for your monitor can make all the difference.
  • Over-work. When working from home you can’t escape the office so easily! For the sake of a good work-life balance, unless it’s unavoidable, don’t log on after working hours. Let anything wait until the next morning when you’ve had a good night’s sleep – you could perhaps start a little earlier to get an urgent task out of the way.

With these simple tips and a heap of fantastic benefits for both you and your employer, maybe it’s time you swapped the commute for the comfort of a home office – even if it’s just a couple of days a week.