If you need to work from home due to the Corona virus you will be pleased at avoiding the daily trip to the office. Take my word for it when I say home-working is fantastic ….for a few days, then cabin fever can kick in. Thing is if you’re doing this for a longer period there’s a few rules to ensure you are still productive whilst enjoying the luxury of that extra half hour in bed. Remote working varies by person and job. I’ve worked remotely since 2008, It really works for me, but your experience may be different, the trick is to remain on-task and focussed to the fact that you are at work so here’s some simple rules to ease you through the week.
Typical home set up, VoIP phone plus Bluetooth headset
Get Your Mind Set Right – The company I work for, Portel AV Limited came to home-working from a different direction, we aspired to reduce our businesses carbon-footprint, as every day spent at home reduces each person’s work-week footprint by 20% (roughly) which is what we wanted to achieve. I had my home office set up exactly as my old office in Leeds, same desk, computer, storage cupboard, even the waste bin !. It helped me prepare for ‘going to work’ of a morning, when the doors closed, I’m at work, it’s a mind-set which seems to work really well …for me. It may be you find being creative easier sat at the kitchen table or in the lounge, you’ll have to figure it out, so long as the work gets finished, that’s the goal you need to focus on, it’s a bit like in the old days, people worked in the cottage industry doing piece-work, they took work home from a factory, completed and returned it for payment.
Me, Myself, I – Loneliness is a real damper, ideally you should be in contact with other members of your team, small things help, my phone has little green lights next to the names of everyone in the company, when someone is on the phone their light glows red, I know it’s only a tiny thing but it’s nice to know someone else is ‘somewhere out there’ doing something !. I have conference calls with other staff virtually every day, we all chip in with technical or administration tasks, everything is discussed on a daily basis so we are in touch and on-task each and every work day……and I do mean work day, once 5pm is reached my phone goes onto do-not-disturb until my next working day. If something is mission critical, I’ll stay and get it done but my normal routine is 9 to 5 and I try to stick to this.
Don’t get Diverted – Stay on-task. If you normal hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm with a half-hour break for lunch and maybe two quarter hour coffee breaks then its important you establish the same routine, don’t go off piste, cutting the lawn, doing washing, catching up at night, stick with the task at hand, conversely don’t work additional hours keep your work/life balance the same or as near as you can…and remember you’ll be winning back all that travel time !.
Get Up, Get Dressed – You can sit around all day in your jimjams or a shell suit I guess but experience taught me I needed to get up, washed, shaved and dressed as if going to the office. I often visit clients so I need to be dressed for an engineering or sales visit, it depends on what I’m doing but generally I will be dressed, sat at my desk by 9am ready to crack on with the day, dressing for work seems to work for me, maybe it’s all in my head but twelve years of home-working has shown its a tried and tested formula that does it for me.
Healthy Working – As in my old office I have a proper office chair, I’m often programming distant telephone systems over the Internet for hours at a time without moving anything but my fingers over a keyboard so it’s essential seating is up to the job, don’t skimp on your chair or desk, if its good enough for a regular office then its good enough for your home office too. Take your health and wellbeing seriously. I often close the door if other family members are home, they know I’m at work and leave me to get on with it in peace…although I don’t mind being disturbed by tea and a biscuit now and again !.
Have the Tools to Do the Job – It’s really important the tech you’re using is up to the job. I’m a VoIP telephone engineer which means having a really good knowledge of both computers and telephones. As you can imagine we have the best of everything for home / anywhere working. There’s a central Server containing our Customer Database, it incorporates an engineering database, we can all see what jobs are in progress and who’s in charge of each plus the usual Email. Customer folders, details of conversations just everything so there’s no need to keep calling each other for job updates, just read it all in the CRM system from anywhere, anytime.
Half-Way There – Having a good Database is only half of the solution a fully connected telephone system is mission critical, I dial out and everyone else (even our Accountant in America) can see I’m on the phone (those little lights again), clients see our office phone number, inbound calls are answered and transferred to the relevant home-worker. Everyone can make, take and transfer calls or set up conferences to include other members of the team, it has to be exactly the same as working from a regular office otherwise you will find the system gets clogged by ‘data-islands’ and dropped phone calls. Keep it professional or don’t do it. We’ve dealt with one client since the early 1980’s (oh yes) and they didn’t realise we had gone home based until I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. Seamless IT and Seamless Telephony is a must to make home working successful….take my word for it after all we’ve been doing it for years.
Home-working – It’s not for everyone all the time or every line of business, even for a few weeks, some folk achieve the move better than others …hopefully you are one of the lucky ones ….. stay healthy !.