For some people, working from home is simply what they do; it’s part and parcel of their normal working life.
For others, it is occasionally thrust upon them without warning or after a company restructure.
Given how many people now work from home (it’s thought that over 1.5 million people do so in the UK), getting the strategy right is essential. More specifically, working out where to work from home, which tools to use and how to remain productive can be a significant challenge for many.
This is true for seasoned home workers as much as it is for those who have only just started. In fact, the longer you work from home, the harder it can get to find inspiration and remain motivated.
Thankfully, you’ve found our ultimate guide to working from home. So, let’s get stuck in and make you more productive than you ever thought possible.
The benefits of working from home
Offices are noisy, busy environments. Yet, the home office has often been given something of a bad wrap for being distraction-laden.
Think about it: how many distractions are there in a modern office? There’s the constant background chatter, unannounced drop-ins from colleagues and meetings that take much longer than required.
By comparison, your home is probably far quieter, absent of colleagues, and meetings, when they’re needed, are organised remotely.
Let’s consider the six main advantages of working from home:
- You work to your own schedule; you can work when you feel most productive and take breaks when you can no longer see the wood for the trees.
- The environment is calmer and you can set the noise level to whatever you desire – not someone else’s preference.
- It’s much easier to make calls without having to shout over the din.
- There’s no commuting. At all.
- You can wear what you like and feel ultimately comfortable.
- Office distractions aren’t there – most notably, there aren’t any colleagues to continually put you off course.
Another huge benefit of working from home is the increased time it gives you to spend with loved ones. This is thanks to the absence of commuting time and, if possible, the ability to drop in with them immediately when you need a break.
…but let’s not forget the downside of working from home
Working from home isn’t necessarily a productivity nirvana.
In fact, for many people, working from home quickly becomes problematic. The lack of social interaction, structure and rules can have a hugely negative impact on one’s productivity levels.
The disadvantages of working from home aren’t that obvious at first, but the following are the most common.
- A lack of community. There simply isn’t anyone else with you physically, and that can result in loneliness.
- Communication can become tricky, even with the myriad of digital channels we now have.
- There are still distractions; the TV, family members and ability to pick up your phone without anyone watching or questioning it are probably the most common.
- It can be hard to get into a routine when there are no rules.
- Poor WiFi can be an issue for many – particularly if you’re used to dealing with large files and projects.
The disadvantages above might put you off the idea of home working entirely, but before you dismiss it, please bear in mind that you can overcome all of the above challenges.
The essential tech you’ll need for home working
The best news about working from home in the digital age is that we’re literally surrounded by brilliant tech that makes the process easier and far more productive.
However, that in itself is a bit of a problem isn’t it? After all, where do you start with so much wonderful tech to choose from?
Everyone will have different requirements, but here are the working-from-home technologies that most people will need.
- A decent laptop. It’ll become your workhorse and the piece of tech on which you’ll rely on the most to get stuff done. For some, a tablet will be a worthy alternative.
- A good internet connection. Fast, reliable broadband access is a must, therefore if your home internet keeps dropping or is particularly slow, an upgrade is vital.
- Cloud-based file storage (or access). You don’t need to install a big file server at your home to get work done. Cloud-based storage (or remote access to your work’s file storage) will ensure you can work on that document at home, in the coffee shop or at the gym.
- Anti-virus software. You’re susceptible to cybercrime wherever you work, unfortunately, so make sure the baddies can’t get in.
- A great desk/chair combo. This is so important and worth spending a few quid on.
- A to-do list. Sure, you can do this the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper, but having everything in one place on your laptop, phone and tablet is transformative when you use a to-do list app.
- A project management app. Your place of work might sort this out for you, but if you work alone, some form of project management software is vital to keep you on task.
That’s it! We haven’t strayed beyond the basics above, because everyone has different requirements beyond those essentials, depending on their role and the industry within which they work.
5 vital tips for keeping focused while working from home
Hopefully, we’ve demonstrated that you can work from home. But what about those disadvantages we talked about earlier?
Here’s how to keep focused – it’ll be the biggest challenge you encounter after all.
1. Turn off ALL distractions
We stand by the fact that office environments can be incredibly distracting places, but the home is just as bad, if poorly managed.
To avoid being distracted, set up a working space that’s as separate as possible to your home life. And, once in there, remove the TV, radio, social media and anything else that will prevent you from getting into the deep work mindset.
2. Reserve email checks for two times per day
Yes, you read that right: check your email just twice a day.
Email is brilliant. But it isn’t the equivalent of the Bat Symbol – you don’t have to leap into action when something drops into your inbox.
3. Reward yourself
Working from home means you’re far closer to rewards, and this can be used to your advantage.
A quick fifteen minutes on the games console, playtime with the dog or a fancy coffee out of your new machine; however if you decide to reward yourself after a bout of good work, make it worth it.
4. Set a goal every morning for that day
Goals don’t have to be lofty – they can be as simple as finally writing that email you’ve been putting off.
The important thing is to actually have a goal to work towards each day. So, make sure you set one each morning and keep it in mind as you work from home; don’t let it slip from sight.
5. Keep plenty of consistency
Get up at the same time, start work at the same time, finish (if you can) at the same time. Oh, and try and get dressed as though you mean it.
The more consistency you can retain while working from home, the more productive you’ll be.
The tips above work for pretty much any type of role in virtually any industry.
If you’ve been sent home to work or have decided to go it alone and create your own home-based business, we think our ultimate guide will set you in good stead. Just remember to refer back to it regularly, as you’ll occasionally need plenty of inspiration to keep going.