Monday, 7 April 2014

How to work from home effectively

This article was written by Amanda Walters, an experienced freelance writer and regular contributor to Huffington Post. Follow her here: @Amanda_W84

 In 2011 a survey of British employers found around 60% of them were offering remote working to some of their staff, up from only 13% five years previously. Although many businesses and companies remain divided on the value of remote working – as this article from the BBC explores – for employees, it is a popular option, providing flexibility and often increasing productivity.

 

But for the remote worker there are challenges involved – primarily in time management and availability of resources. Here is a rough guide to an efficient home-working strategy.

 

Get organised

Make a list of tasks for the day ahead before you finish the previous day. It doesn’t need to be inflexible - after all, things crop up when you’re working at home just as they would do in the office, but if you can aim to get everything on your list crossed off each day then you’ll be able to relax a lot better in the evening.

 

The cloud is your friend

Don’t be shackled to the server - cloud computing solutions, such as those offered by companies like McLaren Software, mean that you can work from anywhere, not just your home. So effectively, wherever you can get an internet connection can become your office - a cafe, the library, the dentists’ waiting room…

 

Scheduling helps

If you try to arrange all non-professional appointments, such as coffee with friends or visits from the washing machine repair man for lunchtime, then you’ll stay focused. Non-working friends may find it hard to understand why they can’t just pop around at any time but they will eventually - especially when they realise that if they meet you on a Tuesday morning you’re going to be distracted by work thoughts and therefore won’t be giving them your full attention.

 

Stick to a routine

Follow a daily routine, which means showering, getting properly dressed and having breakfast every morning. This can be one of the hardest things to manage since no-one can possibly know you’re sending emails from bed, but it will make you feel much more organised and professional, which will show in your work.

 

Create a workplace

Find somewhere reserved for work-related business only. It could be a room in your home where you are not to be disturbed during the day and which you can fill with files, books or whatever else you need for work, or a nearby cafe where you can stick on the headphones and concentrate in peace. Some people prefer to rent office space which, like the cafe option, also gives you a good opportunity for networking.

 

Connect with clients

 

Familiarise yourself with video-call applications like Skype and Google+ Hangouts. Not only are they great for meeting clients or colleagues face to face without leaving the house, they save on your phonebill and provide another reason to get out of your pyjamas!

 

Stay healthy

Putting on weight through unhealthy behaviour at work is the bane of the office worker’s life, and it’s doubly difficult for home-workers when the kitchen is in the next room. Keep your cupboards stocked with healthy snacks that will aid concentration and energy; plenty of fruit, nuts and seeds, and take regular exercise breaks. Even a short walk around the block every few hours helps you shed a few calories, get some fresh air and have you returning to your desk refreshed and revitalised.

 

Stay in touch

It’s good practise to maintain regular communications with your employer or clients - this not only reassures them that you are at your desk instead of gallivanting out and about, but also ensures that whatever project you’re working on stays on track.

 

Switch off

Possibly the biggest problem for remote workers is having the ability to actually stop working.
It can be tempting, especially if you’re self-employed, to work all hours which can be exhausting and unhealthy. Have a set end-of-work time, when you switch off your computer, or at least your work applications. Evenings, weekends and holidays should be your own, not glued to a smartphone or laptop screen.

 

Equip yourself properly

Make sure you have all the equipment you need close to hand. In an office, when you have the printer, the photocopier and the stationery cupboard all within easy reach it’s easy to forget how dependent we become on things. If you need special equipment to do your job then either buy them or have your company supply them, so you’re not constantly ducking out to the shops and interrupting your flow of work.

 

 

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