Many UK workers have had to adapt to working from home practically overnight due to the social distancing measures put into place to combat COVID-19. A recent poll by The Daily Express revealed that 61% of people would be happier to continue to work from home once lockdown measures are lifted.
It’s certainly an attractive option, as you have the flexibility to set your own hours and relax the dress code – and with fewer workers braving the daily commute it means less cars on the roads which is good news for the environment too.
However, working from home is filled with distractions that could easily dominate your working day. Family, chores, running errands and even the TV can all threaten to damage your productivity. The key to successful working from home is getting into good habits from day one.
Here’s our guide on how to steer clear of distractions and make the most of your day when working from home:
Create a proper working space
It’s essential to have a dedicated working area that is quiet and away from the rest of the household. Avoid using the kitchen table as your office desk, it’s fine until the family want to sit down for dinner and everything needs clearing away.
Working in your bedroom is also a no-no as it’s important to create a level of separation from your day job and the rest of your life.
If you don’t have a study or spare room that can be turned into an office space, consider a garden room, which will be completely separate from the house, meaning you’ll get a real feeling of ‘leaving the office’ when your finish for the day.
Invest in office equipment
You’ll not be at your most productive if you are working from the sofa with a laptop on your knees. Similarly, using a dining chair is not a long-term option for hours of sitting at a desk. A comfortable office chair is one of the best investments you’ll make, as is a functional desk and a filing cabinet to store away your files and keep your home tidy.
Comfort also extends to the technology you use. A large monitor will help to reduce eyestrain, as will good office lighting. Wrist rests and footrests can also make the working day more pleasant and reduce the risks of repetitive strain injury.
Add structure to your day
It’s important to set yourself a strict start and finish time for your working day. It’s easy to work longer hours when you are working from home, so don’t fall into the ‘I’ll just check another email’ trap and find yourself working long into the night.
Of course, if you are a night owl then working from home gives you the flexibility to start work later in the day, so you are at your desk when you are most productive.
The main thing to remember is that once you’ve shut the laptop lid at the end of the day, resist the temptation to open it up again to maintain your work / life balance.
Take regular breaks
You can’t stay productive if you don’t have short breaks. Think about all the time in the office when you are chatting with colleagues, making a cup of tea or taking a lunch break. You must make time to have breaks when working from your home office too.
Don’t feel guilty about stepping away from your desk and enjoying a coffee or using your lunch hour to go for a walk. It can be lonely working from home, so schedule short chats with family or friends to break up your day and give you a chance to think about something other than work.
Avoid daily life distractions
If you are at home all day, it’s easy to spot all those little chores that need doing and think ‘I’ll just wash up’, or ‘I’ll quickly change the bedding’. If you were working from the office you wouldn’t be able to take a break to do the washing up, so don’t do it when you’re working from home.
If you like to work in a clean and tidy environment, then set aside half an hour to whizz through your chores so you can be fully focused on your working day.
Get a dual SIM phone
If your personal phone is also your work phone, then consider a dual SIM mobile phone that gives you a separate number for work calls.
It means you only have to carry one phone but get the benefits of having two number. Therefore, you can let works calls go to voicemail after hours for you to respond to when you’re back at your desk the following morning.
The Samsung A10e is an affordable dual-SIM phone with a large screen and plenty of storage.
Create a pleasant place to work
Office buildings are often soulless, with workers stuck in grey cubicles with no natural light. Working from home provides an opportunity to create a working environment that is better for your wellbeing.
Decorate your space in light, airy colours and display pictures or photos that make you feel happy. If you can place you desk near a window and allow natural light to flood in, then so much the better! You’ll be spending a lot of time at your desk, so make it an enjoyable place to be.
It’s important to stay connected to the main office and to remember you are a valuable part of a team.
Video conferencing apps such as Skype and Zoom, or instant messaging tools that allow you to check in with colleagues and share updates on important projects are invaluable to remind you of the bigger picture.
If you are self-employed, the same tools can be applied to keep a connection with customers and suppliers.
Follow our tips to stay productive and gain a healthier perspective on your work / life balance.