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Here are some vital tips for working from home…

Running a business from home or having flexible working arrangements is a dream come true for many  but if you’ve never done it before, you’ll need to get used to a whole new way of working.

There are definitely some perks with working from home, no commuting  to and from the office – spending hours stuck in traffic jams, getting out of bed later and getting that washing put on the line before work, but if you’re working from home for the first time, you’ll find that there are some challenges to overcome as well.

Here are some tips to help you adjust to working from home effectively, whether you run your own business or  you are working remotely as an employee.

Have a separate workspace

Finding the motivation to be productive is a lot more challenging when you’ve gone from being surrounded by colleagues to being surrounded by the distractions of home (television, fridge, housework, children, pets etc).

If you already work from home, you’ll be used to this, but if you normally work in an office then it’s going to take a bit of adjustment .

There are a few good things about commuting, one of them is that it puts some distance between you and your work. When you’re working from home, obtaining balance between work and home life can be hard.

“Garden offices” (effectively posh sheds) are popular among those who work from home; they separate work from home, so that you can get into work mode more easily.

If this isn’t possible, try to set aside a space in the house that’s dedicated to work, one where you won’t be disturbed by distractions such as family members.

It’s harder to get into a work mode if you’re working on a laptop in bed or at the dining table.  You don’t need a huge amount of space to create a home office.

Some people who work from home also find it helpful to dress as though they were going to an office, rather than lounging around in home clothes.

Switch off social media

This is the biggest drain of time for the serial procrastinator!  Staying off social media is easier said than done,  particularly if you need to be on the internet for your job.

If you keep being seduced, there are apps you can install in your web browser or phone to block your access to the offending social media sites or try deleting the offending apps from your phone to make it harder to access them during working hours.

Try using apps such as FreedomSelfControl or   Stay Focused to block specific sites from all your devices for a period of your choosing. If the app you choose doesn’t block social media from your smartphone, try disabling notifications on your phone so that you don’t just keep checking social media on that instead.

Staying connected with employees and clients

Working from home brings another challenge of replacing meetings with conference calls and office catch-ups with online apps such as Zoom or Google Duo.  It’s never been more important to stay connected with employees and colleagues – not to mention with customers and clients to keep the business productive and moving forward.

Platforms such as Google HangoutsSkype and  Slack give you plenty of ways to communicate easily with your team, while you can still send email newsletters out to your customers.

Implementing ideas such as morning video meetings, virtual coffee and lunch breaks can provide motivation and a  sense of team union even when everyone’s working separately.

Schedule your working hours and breaks

It is very important to schedule breaks into your working hours; this will give you something to work towards, as well as a break from your screen. You’ll be less productive if you try to stick at a task for too long without a break.

According to the Posture Group, research shows that productive people work for 52 minutes and take breaks for 17 minutes.

It’s also difficult to be productive when you’re overwhelmed with a big backlog of work to do.  If you’re an employer, be sure to keep in constant communication with your staff when you’re all working remotely to make sure they have a workload they can cope with.

For employees and the self-employed alike, using a project management tool such as Trello or Asana is a great way of keeping organised and prioritising tasks, even if you’re the only member of the team.

You’ll be able to visualise your workflow, perhaps dividing projects by status  and priority. Give yourself tasks for the day ahead, with some smaller ones that you can tick off more easily (a morale boost) and a longer one that will take a bit more effort.

Working from home takes some getting used to if you’ve only ever worked in an office.
Being disciplined and following the above tips will help you establish a way of working that keeps you and your team at your most productive.