Working effectively from home: a survival guide

Morgan McKinley 06.02.2018

PJs, day-time TV and barely opened laptops: some of the misgivings of working from home. This article advises how to 'telecommute' effectively.

Look past these, however, and you'll see that remote working, or telecommuting as it's now called, is an increasingly popular option for organisations as they look to reduce operating costs and access a wider pool of talent.

Working from home has even been shown to boost worker productivity, with a study by Stanford University highlighting a 13% increase in the performance of telecommuting employees at one Chinese firm.

The advantages for individuals themselves of being allowed to work from home probably don't require much explaining. However, not all employees necessarily know how to fully maximise their homeworking environment, with even seasoned telecommuters occasionally slipping into bad habits.

Here are a few steps to follow to help you get the most out of the experience:

1. Increase communication

Use tools like Skype and FaceTime to stay in the loop with colleagues and arrange regular 'face time' throughout the week. Being clear, specific and quick to respond during email exchanges can also help to promote a smoother workflow.

2. Get into a routine

A lack of structure will have even the most motivated and productive of employees reaching for the TV remote. Start off by establishing a standard workday routine: for example, get the big task out the way first thing in the morning, check emails mid-morning and set a regular time for lunch and coffee breaks throughout the day.

3. Divide work from play

Keep your work life as separate from your home life as you can. Ideally this means setting aside a child and spouse-free room of the house for working. Set specific 'office' hours for work and make sure these don't encroach on your personal and/or family time.

4. Tame your urges

Being in charge of your own workflow risks opening you up to a whole series of off-limits distractions. Manage your predilection for social media, day-time soaps or sports sites by setting aside regular (limited) windows in the day for indulging these addictions.

Working from home may not be for everybody, but with a little organisation and self-discipline, it can prove an extremely productive option for both you and your employer. The only person left to convince is the boss.

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