Working at home can be a positive experience. You just need to make sure you are prepared.
With more people working remotely, you need to think about how you create an environment that allows this time spent to be productive. Remote working is a part of the future way of working and therefore we need to make sure we are doing it right. We all need our time to be productive one way or another.
A key challenge I found back in March 2020 is having the right equipment to allow my work to be productive. Thinking about the chair and desk setup. I have heard too many issues with individuals having back problems following prolonged work at home. An ergonomic chair, some way of working while standing (I use a small wooden shelving unit that works well), and the right technological equipment like a headset are essentials I think. And this is where the remote challenge comes in – not everyone has the space for these items and/or financial ability for them and therefore the office will still be required for all kinds of work. So you can make a home a place to work. BUT, you must separate home from work….
I have spoken to a number of people who work from home permanently and they are clearly set up for it – they don’t work in the lounge and have a clear way of cutting off from work. Without separation I think home working is more challenging on your work-life balance.
My key learnings from working from home for me:
- Communication, communication and a little more communication. My role involves discussions with a number of people. My team. Client team. Stakeholders. Working remotely does not prohibit these but does create a challenge in doing them effectively. Working remotely leads to over-communicating. Understanding what my teams are doing, what they have done and what the next steps are. Very clear. Very concise.
- Eat. Don’t raise the fridge every five minutes but ensure you get lunch for example. Think about how you can make lunch more a social occasion – who is in the local community that you can meet for lunch? Could you go for a walk over lunch with someone? We are social creatures, whether introvert or extrovert, and therefore you can create quality conversations virtually to replace those that were face to face.
- Your working pattern can flex a little for you. You have a role and expectations upon you but more flexibility allows a better home-life balance. Asynchronous work is the super power of remote work. It empowers everyone to do deep focussed work without distractions.
- Manage the calendar and defend your time. Doing it however works best for you – I like the blocked private time. Let me decide what to do. Well-being and mental health are incredibly important. Make sure you take regular breaks and have regular holiday from work.
- Keep active. I’ve never been more active in my life. So much that I tore two muscles in my legs! Putting aside the HIIT classes the biggest benefit is being able to go for a walk. I wrote in 1, 2, ….. 10,000! A wander into nature! about the benefits and mixing that now with walking meetings blends it well with work. On my days in the office I have continued walking, trekking down Leeds canal – a more urban walk.
Lastly, remember to LOG OFF! There will always be things on the to-do list. You need to learn when to step away. Move to a different room. Close and shut down the laptop. Take a walk.