Out of office but still remote working
Working from home, or anywhere that isn’t your designated place of work all fall under the heading of ‘remote working’. For many employees who are used to travelling to an office and doing a ‘9 to 5’, five days a week, adopting a new ‘flexible’ or ‘agile’ approach to work can be difficult without proper advice or guidance from their employer.
Top tips to help you work remotely
- Set Goals – have a plan for each day and make sure you complete the tasks. A good ‘To-do’ list will have no more than three tasks on it each day meaning it’s achievable and every day will feel productive. It doesn’t matter how many interruptions you have, just get it done by the end of the day.
- Have a routine – breakfast, showering and getting dressed will help you to switch from just being at home into work mode. A routine will also help family members and friends distinguish between you ‘working on the sofa’ and just surfing the internet. But being able to adapt this routine when needed is one of the benefits of home working.
- Set clear working hours – going to and from an office sets a clear start and finish time to the day, colleagues see you’ve left and you’ve logged off from your email. Working at home has less of a distinction and it’s easy to just keep going and not switch off, answering one more email and taking that out of hours phone call. If you’ve finished your to-do list take the time to reflect on your progress and how you could be more efficient or productive next time around. Tomorrow is a new day, with a new to-do list.
- Get out of the house – sometimes leaving the house will help to separate work from personal time. Getting some fresh air or doing some exercise will help you stay fit and healthy and replace those natural ‘commute time’ breaks. Plus, what’s the point of working at home if you can’t take advantage of a sunny afternoon for a bike ride or long walk.
- Don’t get distracted – don’t do household chores or appointments in the middle of the day and keep disruptions to a minimum. If you need to do some online banking or take care of important household business put it in your schedule for first thing in the morning and get it done. (It can also be a bonus task on your to-do list and you’ll start the day off with a quick success.)
- Manage food, drinks and snacks – easy access to the fridge and kitchen cupboards can be too tempting for some, especially if you’ve hit a work lull. The answer to your problem is not in the biscuit barrel but treats and snacking pass the time on difficult days. Be disciplined about food and hot drink (especially caffeine) intake. It could be an opportunity to have a healthier diet by using the time you would be commuting to shop for fresh produce and cook healthy homemade meals.
- Create a comfortable office space – not only will a dedicated office space help separate family/personal time and work time, but a comfortable chair, good lighting, storage space for work documents etc will mean you’re more inclined to want to spend time there and as a result, you’ll be more productive.
- Use the cloud – important and ‘in progress’ documents can be uploaded to a cloud storage service so they are available on all your devices no matter where you are, allowing them to be edited or shared any time. Dropbox or Google Drive.
- Quality communication with colleagues – not being in the office means you miss those little conversations and snippets of important info and even ‘Quick question…’ emails can turn into monster threads. Have some sort of instant messaging or phone text service for short exchanges. When you are in the office make sure you set aside time for a quality catch-up with team members, have an agenda as with any other meeting and set out what you want to achieve and what you need. You can also set the next agile goals, prioritise tasks and plan your next working at home day.
- Use technology – there are countless free and inexpensive tools for project management, time management, communication, document sharing and joint calendars which can help you be more productive and stay in touch with colleagues.
- Enjoy the flexibility – while we’ve mentioned the importance of having routines, working hours, avoiding distractions and disruption and time management the flexibility of working at home should be used to live life to the full. If you’re losing focus and finding progress difficult, take a break, do some exercise, take advantage of the day in a way people in an office can’t. If an old friend is in town and invites you for lunch, go! Taking time out could provide the inspiration you need to complete your task quicker when you get back to work.
If you don’t have room for an office in your own home you could try just setting a small, dedicated space for work purposes, or perhaps converting a shed or garage. Away from the home, libraries and some communities are often quiet, calm places with wi-fi and work spaces, or just head to your favourite coffee shop, pub or restaurant. Many places are now providing electrical sockets at tables as well as having free wi-fi for customers, so you’ll never run out of battery.