Many studies aim to prove that flexibility is the new productivity when it comes to work. In the case of homeworkers, most people will agree that flexibility doesn’t mean a lack of structure. Key qualities for working from home include independence, resourcefulness, self-motivation, solution finding, resilience and communication. In other words, homeworking is not for the faint-hearted!
Why not give it a try this Friday 20th May for National Work from Home Day? Here are a few productivity hacks from people who work regularly from home.
1. Gear up
You are a professional and you need the right professional gear. Whether it is virtual or physical tools, creating a professional environment at home is essential. You don’t want your work to be constantly interrupted because something fundamental is not working. It can waste a lot of time not to mention be really frustrating. If you have ever had to deal with your internet provider on the phone, you will know what we mean.
Have everything properly set up or at hand so that you can focus on your work. Issues will arise but the more you can anticipate the less time you will spend having to sort them out.
2. Keep an eye on time
While most office workers think you have it easy, you are working in average more hours than they are. According to ACAS’ 2013 research paper (Home is where the work is - http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/f/2/Home-is-where-the-work-is-a-new-study-of-homeworking-in-Acas_and-beyond.pdf), homeworkers tend to work more overtime than any other working group, including office workers and mobile workers.
The best way to save time is to focus your attention on specific tasks. Set yourself fixed working sessions of say 30 minutes each, using a timer can help, and turn your full attention to the task at hand. Set a maximum amount of sessions a day, decide on a cut off time and do your best to stick to it.
3. Structure your day / week / month
If you work from home, the chances are that you make your own schedule. Know what your most productive times are and create a pattern that works for you.
Some people like to structure their tasks and goals monthly, others like to break them down into more manageable chunks, weekly or daily. Whatever your preference, be realistic on what you can achieve in that set amount of time and don’t over commit. Know where your goals sit in your overall plan and when your attention wanders or you need extra motivation, take a step back and remind yourself of the big picture.
Do lists work for you? Make sure you end every day with an updated to-do list for the next day. This will help you get closure on the day’s tasks and give you the peace of mind that everything is ready for you to pick up the next day.
4. Build your team
Loneliness is often cited as one of the main downsides of homeworking. Not only do you miss the social aspect of working from an office, but you also have limited access to professional support.
Keep in touch with colleagues via email or Skype, join a Meet Up group in your area, go to networking events to meet like minded people, create partnerships, find a working buddy or join groups online (LinkedIn, Facebook).
You will benefit hugely from the people around you. And don’t forget to give back too!
5. Get out of the house
The good thing about commuting is that it creates a distance – geographically and mentally – between work and home. Stepping out of your home office and into the living room might not be enough to create the buffer you need.
Whether it’s to give yourself a break, exercise or meet clients, getting regularly out of the house will help with physical health and morale. So step outside, meet people face to face, give yourself breaks, get dressed, be sociable and stretch your legs and your mind.
6. Use collaboration tools
If you work from home and need to collaborate with your team remotely, there are a number of tools that will make your life much easier. All the tools mentioned below are completely free to use.
Skype (www.skype.com): online calls, including video conference and screen share
Google hangouts (https://hangouts.google.com/): group video calls
Slack (www.slack.com): team messaging tool that allows you to stream conversations by topic
Trello (www.trello.com): project & task management tool that allows teams to collaborate
Google drive (www.google.co.uk/drive/): share & collaborate on documents online
WeTransfer (www.wetransfer.com): transfer large files without using email
Dropbox (www.dropbox.com): file management & sharing
7. Manage people’s expectations
This seems like an easy one, but it can be tricky. If most people around you are not used to homeworking, they might find it difficult to get their heads around the fact that you are at home but unavailable to go out and play. Be clear that you are at work and avoid answering private messages during your working sessions.
Now that you’re all set to be a productive homeworker, we can’t wait to hear what you’re up to on Friday #nationalworkfromhomeday! --
The tips listed above have been provided by members of the Homeworkers Brighton group, a combined private Facebook and Meet Up group of more than 400 members that was created to provide support and promote homeworking locally.
Read more about founders Victoria Binz (www.pufferfish.digital) and Diarmuid O’Hare (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/diarmuid-o-hare-2727a647