Working from home offers many advantages for employees – from scheduling flexibility and reduced costs, to time savings and improved career options. It also has benefits for organisations, including reduced overhead costs, increased productivity and access to a wider talent pool.
Embracing the right mindset and clearly communicating expectations are key to establishing a successful virtual office program.
To help you and your team get started, here are a few helpful hints to encourage employees to remain productive, engaged and mentally fresh while working from home.
1. Create a workspace
Whether it’s a whole room in the house, or just a desk in a corner, you’ll want to begin by establishing a permanent workspace as your home office. Don’t use this space for anything else, and don’t share it with others. This will help to ensure that you have professional surroundings to keep you focused and that your business tools will always be where you need them.
When establishing your office, remember that video calls through Skype and Microsoft Teams are becoming more common, so you may want to consider the lighting and backdrop in your office space. Place a test call to make sure your background represents you and your organisation well. While it’s acceptable for people to know you work from home, you’ll want to keep distractions to a minimum and avoid anything that could be controversial.
Pro tip: Many videoconferencing platforms now offer a “blur background” feature. Put it to use on days when kids might be home or if you’ve forgotten to put away your laundry.
2. Establish regular work or study hours
If you were expected to follow defined work hours when you were traveling to an office, your home office should be no different. Schedule your time as if you’re clocking in and out, updating your calendar and messaging platforms accordingly to let people know when you’ll be available.
A set work schedule also means stopping at a designated time. It’s easy to keep working late into every evening, but consistently working more than eight hours a day will make you less productive over time. There will always be occasional days that require extra hours but a fixed stop time allows your mind and body to know when to relax.
Pro tip: Set daily alarms on your phone or computer to mark breaks, lunch and the end of your shift.
3. Dress for success
Getting dressed for work is a great way to get into a “work” mindset. Looking professional helps you feel professional and stay productive throughout your day. Set your alarm, get up and take a shower, and get dressed as if you were going out to see people — even if you have no plans to do so.
Pro tip: If no one is going to see your feet, feel free to skip the heels and wingtips and pair that outfit with some bunny slippers.
4. Avoid digital distractions
With no one peering over your shoulder it can be easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of online news, social media or the latest binge-worthy TV. But when working from home, make every effort to treat your workday as just that: a workday.
If you prefer to work with some background noise, try listening to soft music or use a white-noise machine. Avoid distractions like streaming services and YouTube, so you can focus on getting things done.
Pro tip: Maintain a to-do list and daily schedule to help keep your work on track.
5. Eat healthily
Without the structured limitations of a standard working environment, you’ll want to make a conscious effort to maintain healthy eating habits. Plan your meals as if you were heading to the office. Pack your lunch the night before and treat snacks as you would if you had to buy them from the vending machine — sparingly. Sticking to healthy foods and regular routines will give you the energy you need to stay productive.
Pro tip: Stock up on dried fruits and limited-calorie packs for quick snacks.
6. Avoid interruptions
Few people who work from home actually have the house to themselves. Partners, roommates, children and pets who share the space can — and will — become a distraction or interrupt while you’re on an important call. Work with your family, friends and neighbours ahead of time to develop a system indicating when you need quiet or when you’re not to be disturbed. Post a sign on your door or leave a light on in the hall to remind others of your schedule. This will help to keep your background clear of distractions during office hours.
Pro tip: Finding a well-balanced routine that maximises the benefits of working from home can take some time. Keep making adjustments until you find what works for you.
7. Take breaks
Taking breaks to stand, stretch, walk around and drink water can help relieve neck and eye strain as well as back and leg fatigue. Taking a lunch break away from your home office for a short time gives you a natural break that will help you feel connected with the rest of the world. Climb the stairs or do exercises to keep the blood flowing.
Be mindful when scheduling appointments or running errands during the day. Longer periods of absence should be scheduled the same way they would be if you were in the office so that managers and co-workers know when you’ll be unavailable. If daytime activities run longer than expected, it can easily push your work into the evening and throw off your rhythm for the week.
Pro tip: Schedule appointments in compliance with company policy and block out the time well in advance.
8. Schedule some face to face time
Get comfortable with video calls. Speaking face-to-face with co-workers and customers helps create important connections with the other party and reinforces the fact that despite being at home, you’re at work. Whether you prefer Teams, Skype or Google Hangouts, get in the habit of reaching out through video chat rather than sending an email. Schedule internal and external meetings to take advantage of the face-to-face interaction and team building offered by video conferencing.
Pro tip: When scheduling a meeting, mention your preference for video conferencing so that others will be prepared.
Is your remote workforce set up for success Our team is here to help. Visit uk.insight.com/what-we-do/connected-workforce