Remote working has swiftly gone from being an exciting new option to an absolute necessity for many businesses in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
As with any new measure, “working from home” has its champions and its critics. Many employees enjoy the flexibility and freedom it provides, while others find it difficult to manage their time and focus properly outside of an organized office environment.
Wherever you stand on the matter, if you are going to be working from home instead of in an office for the foreseeable future, there are a number of things you’re likely to require if you want to be as productive as possible.
The Right Space
Your surroundings can make a huge difference to your levels of comfort and concentration.
It is perhaps most vital to find a “desk”-type surface that offers the right height and a suitable amount of space for all of your equipment. Kitchen tables are popular, but these are often too low and can cause hunching.
If you’re using something of this kind, we recommend raising the height of your screen. This will encourage you to sit up straighter. Anything from a sturdy box to a pile of books will do the trick if you don’t want to splash out on a brand new desk.
Your chair is important too. You need to properly support your back to avoid poor posture and backache. Take time to find something of the right height and add cushions or other padding where required.
There are numerous ergonomic back-supports available online that can help you to sit properly and comfortably.
The room where you work should offer as few distractions as possible. Aim for a tidy and quiet space that is easy to access. A nice view is always a bonus!
It may be a good idea to try and recreate your usual office set up as best you can - after all, things were probably arranged that way at your place of work for a reason.
If you’re not the only one working from home, it’s important to have a discussion about how space is used. After all, the members of your household could really do without being under each others’ toes - and you don’t want one person to sacrifice their comfort for others.
Trustworthy and Compatible Devices
Ideally, your employer should provide you with everything you need to get set up at home. For example, you shouldn’t have to give out your personal mobile number to clients or pay for your own work-related phone calls.
Computers and other electronics should run smoothly so as not to cause interruptions to your workday, and all devices should work well together for optimum performance.
If you need to buy something in order to do your job, be sure to notify your employer before you do so - and keep all receipts after the fact, as you should be able to claim those expenses back.
A Good Internet Connection
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a high-speed connection, but this resource is vital if you’re working from home.
Whether you’re sending large files, sharing media or keeping on top of real-time updates of any kind, the last thing you want is to lose your connection and be unable to communicate or interact with your colleagues.
It’s a good idea to compare internet service providers in your area. You may be able to get a better set-up for the same price, or even cheaper.
The Best Possible Means of Communication and Interaction
It’s extremely important to be able to touch base with managers and colleagues whenever required - and email isn’t always suitable.
More and more people are turning to video conferencing to hold “virtual meetings”. This is a very handy tool not only for keeping up to date with coworkers face-to-face, but for socialising, too!
Working from home can get quite lonely, and many people end up missing their office friends. Holding video “catch-ups” can be great for morale as well as productivity. Just make sure that everyones’ devices can support the platform you choose.
According to Ruban Selvanayagam from London fast homebuying company Property Solvers: “with so many people working remotely the likes of Zoom, Slack, Trello and Microsoft Teams have become fundamentals in the ‘working from home toolkit’. Although many people miss the office environment, there’s a strong argument to say that tools like this can make us more productive (not to mention avoiding the long commutes especially in cities like London and Manchester)”.
The Cloud is an exceptionally valuable tool for all remote workers. This innovation enables all devices with the correct permissions to access the same files, programmes and information from any location, with updates and changes implemented in real time.
This means that multiple people can work on the same project without a confusing string of emails being sent back and forth with attached files in various stages of editing.
Opportunities to Unwind
The flexibility of working from home is great, but you’ll need to switch off from time to time. It can be tempting to work a few more hours here and there to get ahead, but this is a slippery slope.
If it helps, give yourself a “shut down time” each day in order to maintain some form of routine. It’s also a great idea to think of things you can do after work so that you can achieve a healthy balance.
Physical activity is especially important - particularly for those who are used to walking or cycling to work - as your fitness may suffer if you don’t get out of your house much now.
When all is said and done, you are the only person who can decide which approach is best for you and your household. Just remember, you should aim for a balance of comfort, concentration, productivity and positivity when working from home.