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A beginner's guide to home working

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A Beginner’s Guide to Home Working

Home working is a thorny board room agenda, embraced by some and shunned by others. For many years, businesses with progressive and well invested IT infrastructures have proven that homeworking can be very effective, particularly for those focused on individual tasks. However, for organisations that rely on the power of the team, home working has not been embraced.

Our world has changed dramatically in the last ten days and has forced a mass shift in workplace habits.

We have entered an unprecedented time where most of the worldwide workforce has been forced to work from home. This has caused chaos for many companies and individuals who were not physically or mentally prepared for this. 

There are a few key enablers that are imperative to making working from home successful:

Respect and Trust

Respect your colleagues and the business your work for. You have been given the trust to work at home. It’s not a holiday; far from it. It’s a time to work harder and produce more. Just because you’re not in sight of your employer is not a reason to be truant.

Face to face interaction

Loneliness at this time is a real issue for us all. We need to focus on social connection with our work colleagues, think about daily online team catch ups, small working groups to brainstorm how to work more effectively work from home.

Think about what’s great in the workplace. Having a chat in the kitchen whilst making coffee, going to lunch with a colleague… It doesn’t have to stop. Schedule a ten minute call at 11 for coffee. Share your lunch with colleagues virtually.

Why not create a lunch club called “what I was able to get from the supermarket today.”

Wellbeing

We are not all equipped to work effectively from home. Many people just don’t have the space to allow them to find a quiet space - peace away from the family or other flatmates. We have to be realistic, everyone has to compromise.

If it’s about finding a space and a time to work effectively, think about shifting your work pattern. We all have a different body clock. If you are an early person, get up early before everyone else and complete focused tasks that require peace and thought then. Use the rest of the day to communicate by e-mail and on screen meetings.

Perhaps shift your work pattern. Let’s face it, while we are all in isolation at home, it may be more effective for you to work on focused tasks at the weekend, away from the distraction of constant e-mails and the demands of conference calls and take a break during the week instead.

Think about moving throughout the day, and re-assess how you can use your home as an agile work environment. Don’t just sit at the dining room table. Video calls can be done from the comfort of your sofa.

Embrace natural light and fresh air. If possible, sit by an open window, wrap up warmly.

Dress for work. This is simple respect for colleagues but it also gets you into a work mode.

Don’t stress about people seeing your home on a video call. All great start ups have grown from the kitchen table.

Think about your posture. Make the chair you are working from as comfortable as possible. A small thing such as a cushion to ensure you’re sitting up straight will make a big difference to your da (and your back).

Work, where possible, standing up. It helps oxygen flow to the brain.

Schedule time to go for a walk and be honest with your colleagues about doing it. A walk and fresh air will keep you focused and re-set your day.

Fuel your body, eat healthy foods, think about simple snacks of nuts and fruit, and hydrate regularly.

Share your anxiety with colleagues, friends and family. We are all in the same boat. Talking is important in this time of isolation. Don’t hide behind a keyboard.

Take this time to focus on family and re-form great connections - eating together and sharing experiences.

Re-set your life goals. Think about short term wins both at work and in your personal life.

Above all, think about how you can contribute to your work team and the greater business. Now is the time to be focused and amazing.

Technology

IT teams are under pressure to support the fast-changing landscape of work, both with the provision of the right hardware and software support. Bear with them. They’re not superhuman! Again, we all have to compromise. Think about how to use your own devices to communicate.

We are not all technology savvy. Baby boomers and Generation X may struggle more with the demands of working from home. They need the support and patience from there contemporaries who can train and guide easily.

Be realistic about connectivity. Mobile phone communication and home bandwidth is creaking under the strain of mass working from home.  It was not designed, and certainly is not robust enough to deal with this new surging demand of home working.

Think about prioritising internet connectivity when working at home with others. We don’t all need to be online all the time. Compromise and respect will allow everyone to get the best out of the bandwidth you have.

The future’s bright

Whilst we may already crave the moment we get back on the train or bus and rush back to our workplace and the security of our teams, friendships and colleagues, this is what we are wired to do and it won’t change.

But the future is bright. Coming out of this, we will all be better equipped for a brave new vibrant world of work, embracing changing workplaces which celebrate agility, better social interaction, and less formality.

Good luck out there, you can do this!

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