With the coronavirus outbreak affecting our daily lives, the majority of people who are reading this article may have been advised by their employers to work from home in the next couple of weeks to prevent the spread from reaching a rapid rate. For many office-based workers out there, working from home is something that they are quite familiar with, however, there are some who aren’t as aware of the ins and outs of remote work.
Depending on the industry you’re part of, it may not be possible for you to work from home
due to the nature of your responsibilities. Your role may rely on face-to-face interactions with customers, vendors and other stakeholders, which may mean you’re forced to take a leave of absence
from work to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
For some employees, working from home may be difficult because home is a place where distractions are and you’re more productive at the office. However, with the outbreak of coronavirus and more businesses being open to the idea of working remotely, it could encourage more companies to implement flexible working opportunities for employees, making it a commonplace for those to work from home
as a way to save commuting costs and boost the productivity of employees
If your company has made contingencies in having you work from home until further notice, these are some tips to help you remain productive at a period where you’re away from the office.
6 tips on how to work from home
- Make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need to do work.
- Know the hours of when you’re most productive and stick to it.
- Take regular breaks.
- Have an office space set up.
- Avoid working in your pyjamas.
- Minimise distractions like personal social media use.
1. Make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need to do work.
Depending on your role, you may need certain tools and equipment to be able to undertake your responsibilities at home. You’ll need a solid internet connection, access to a desktop or laptop computer and ideally, an office space where there are minimal distractions available to you
. If you’ve never worked from home before and are employed in a sector where you have access to files which contain sensitive information, you may need to enquire about accessing an external network while at home with your employer.
You may also need to talk with IT support at your company about having access to certain applications or what alternatives you can use in the meantime when working from home. It’s important that you also have the precautionary measures of having software installed that prevents hackers from accessing sensitive information
like credit card details and personal information, as well as having common sense in only accessing websites that are encrypted and not prone to computer viruses that could result in the loss of work and computer damages.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re someone who likes working on documents and excel spreadsheets on the daily, it’s best practice to use cloud-based systems like Google Docs or Google Sheets
so that your work is automatically saved. It’s also worth keeping in mind that if you still want to stay in touch with your colleagues and be on top with communication, you can use these great tools
available that can help you run meetings and quickly message each other as you all work remotely.
2. Know the hours of when you’re most productive and stick to it.
The beauty of working from home is that you can amend your hours slightly to suit your lifestyle needs. If you love to have a bit of a sleep in and find that you’re most productive working from the hours of 10-6, you can negotiate with your manager about changing your hours to suit your needs, especially if you recognise that this schedule means that you’re at optimum productivity
If you’re a parent struggling to find balance when it comes to looking after the kids while you work from home, you may find that working from 6-2 works best because you’re able to start early and work on your responsibilities before the kids wake up, during nap time and when they’re busy watching family movies on Netflix.
Working from home allows flexibility when it comes to your personal schedule and can work wonders, especially if you know when you’re most productive
. Ensure that you get the green light from your manager and stick to the schedule you know fits your lifestyle.
3. Take regular breaks.
Regularly taking breaks is a must if you want to remain productive during the period where you’ll work from home. You may find it’s a different dynamic when you’re used to the social aspect of the office. When working from home, you have free reign of how you take your breaks
. It’s a good idea to stretch every few hours you work or even eat a healthy snack in the afternoon to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
It can be tempting to skip out on lunch because you want to finish the day early, however, it’s important to take regular breaks so that you’re at your most productive state. A good way of ensuring this is to use the famous Pomodoro Technique
How it works is that you work on a task for about 25 minutes and then when time is up, you take a break for 3-5 minutes. This is a good technique because it breaks up your workday into manageable chunks
, helping you manage your time better
4. Have an office space set up.
If you have the capacity and the space, setting up a home office
can make all the difference when you work from home.
You may need to rearrange the guest room in your house and make it into an office space for the interim, so getting ample lighting, a desk you can work on and plants for decoration can boost your productivity and encourage you to stay in ‘work mode’
5. Avoid working in your pyjamas.
While the luxury of working from home means you can wear whatever you want without any form of judgement, you should consider changing yourself out of your pyjamas before you begin working. It’s been found in a study from Northwestern university
that the type of clothing we wear can influence our psychological processes.
For example, if you wear sleepwear throughout the day while you’re expected to smash through tight deadlines, you’ll most likely be tempted to take a nap instead because that’s what your brain is telling you.
Looking professional can help you feel more present and engaged
- it also prepares you for any unexpected meetings you may have with your colleagues or external stakeholders that require video conferencing.
6. Minimise distractions like personal social media use.
With the constant live updates of coronavirus, having this habit of checking the news can cause fear and concern for our wellbeing, which is well-warranted in a trying time like this. It’s important that while you work from home to minimise any sort of distraction that takes you away from your workload
, which means pausing any personal social media use or not having Netflix playing in the background.
To help maximise your productivity, leave the distractions until lunch time and only take personal social media breaks if you know you can limit yourself to 5 mins every few hours of work you’ve done. Working from home allows you to be flexible but at the same time, take the steps necessary to avoid losing focus on tasks that need urgent attention.
How do I start working from home?
Working from home is no doubt an inevitable reality for most of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No longer is it seen as a work perk but a normalised approach where companies and organisations can lead a productive workforce and provide more flexibility for their employees.
If you're in a role where it's required to go into the workplace and thinking of switching careers, here are some tips that can help you get started in finding a role that allows you to work from home:
- Check out roles with a flexible work policy: If you're looking for a new job, be sure to check if the roles you're applying for make mention of flexible work arrangements. This will help you gauge if they offer work from home opportunities, which can provide you with the flexibility in both your personal and work life.
- Consider self-employment: Want to become your own boss? Self-employment means that you can choose where to work and that could even bring you more flexibility and convenience when it comes to your hours working from home. One of the benefits of being self-employed is that you're allowed to structure your day however you like, as long as you get the work done for your clients.
- Request a hybrid schedule: If you're living in an area where COVID hasn't impacted the way you work, you can always set up a meeting with your boss and request to be on a hybrid schedule. This means you get the best of both worlds of coming into the workplace and being able to work from home. Negotiate two or three days working remotely and come into the office for the rest of the week.
- Study a course and learn new skills: In a role where you're required to come into the workplace? Maybe it's time to pack up and study an online course where you get the opportunity to learn new skills. Studying a course in business or IT may work to your benefit if you intend on looking for a role that allows you to work from home.
Is working from home good?
Working from home has plenty of benefits such as flexibility and convenience. You'll be able to save time commuting and have the ability to make time for your hobbies or a better work-life balance
when it comes to commitments outside of your role. Working from home can benefit people with an introverted personality type or those that have a far commute.
However, there are some drawbacks to working from home such as feeling isolated and the ease of working overtime without setting those boundaries between home and work life. It's important that while working from home, you don't let these blur together.
Maximise your productivity at home by studying online
If you’re reaping the benefits of working from home in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, consider studying an online course
with Upskilled. With qualifications in business, community services and IT, you can work towards a qualification that can help you expand your job opportunities or transition into an industry you have no prior experience working in. Enquire about a course today by calling the Upskilled team on 1300 009 924
Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2020. Content has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.