Home truths for aspiring remote workers

It can feel like an illicit confession sometimes, admitting that while you work away on that latest project you’re being paid to do, you’re also quite comfortable and warm, often sat on the sofa with a cat purring by your side and your favourite music on in the background (or is that just me?) 

It’s funny how working in comfort can still be seen as a bit…well, lazy.  Too entitled, perhaps.  How very dare you enjoy what you do and where you do it from! 

Yet in reality, many people get much more done when they’re not “at work”.  Wherever you physically do your work it’s easy to feel you’re on call 24/7 anyway - how many times have you been out for a catch-up with a friend after hours, only to find your time is interrupted by one or both of you anxiously checking your phone for work messages?

So if you’re in need of an argument to convince a reluctant manager of the benefits of home working, you could do worse than mentioning that for starters, there’ll be no colleagues constantly stopping by your desk for “a quick chat”.   You could then follow that up by hinting about how more you can get done with all the time saved on your bleary-eyed commute, not to mention no more traffic jams or train delays!

Of course, once you are working from home you’ll find a whole host of possible distractions waiting to claim your time (funny how cleaning the oven becomes a far more attractive prospect when the alternative is getting your head down on a complex sales report, eh?) 

Since I’ve been permanently working from home myself, I’ve tried and tested a few different routines, and here are a few that have worked consistently well for me:

1. Impose ‘office hours’

Believe it or not, one of the things I missed when I stopped office work was the automatic, unthinking structure it gave.  Work/life boundaries can be blurred at home, so implement your own schedule – blissfully tailored to however you like to work.

Get ready for work as you would if you were actually going to leave the house, start and finish at set times every day – in my case this definitely isn’t the traditional nine-to-five – and make sure you stick to it.  The same goes for regular breaks, including one for a ‘proper’ lunch, away from your workspace. 

2. Keep a ‘got done’ list

Working at home can be isolating (yes, even with The Jeremy Kyle Show for company) – so keep yourself on the motivational track by making a list of all the things you’re getting done during your working day, even if it’s just tackling a tricky client e-mail.  Your list will also come in handy if you need to justify your home-working time to any mistrustful managers!

3. Don’t waste any time feeling guilty

Is it actually work, you might think, if you’ve got all your home comforts around you?  If there’s some relaxing music or the telly on in the background, the heating’s on full blast and there’s heavy rain battering the windows outside?  If you take a little bit of time to brew some fresh coffee, or prepare yourself a delicious lunch instead of grabbing a hasty sandwich in between meetings? 

Far too much is still made about the working day needing to be a chore, done in unforgiving conditions with unpleasant people, so if you’re lucky enough to work the way you want to whilst in comfort, simply thank your lucky stars and embrace it – no matter what any jealous colleagues might have to say about it!

4. Keep it all in perspective

One ex-colleague got upset when her boss sent her a terse message while she was working from her home office, even though if she’d been sitting at the next desk to him, she would have verbally given as good as she’d got. 

The reason she was so upset was that an abrupt message, when you read it in your own home, often seems a lot more personal, than it would if you were glancing at it in the office, where you have some context.  If you find yourself in the same position, it can help to keep some perspective; in most cases your colleagues are just busy, and it’s not personal. 

Do you have any good home working tips?  Or perhaps you’d like me to work on something for you, from the comfort of my lovely home?   If so, get in touch!