Currently, due to the Coronavirus, thousands of people who would not normally work from home will be asked to do home working to combat the spread of the virus. This may be the first time you have done that, it may not be, so here are 7 essentials for working from home.
These essentials are for the everyday working from home, not just because of the current Coronavirus.
1. A good Internet connection
It sounds almost basic to say to work from home you need to have a good internet connection. Reality is, a lot of broadband internet connection we have are not that great.
Often we get outages. Our providers have issues and so we loose connection which is certainly not something we need to happen when working from home.
So, ensure you research your provider. Take a look at their downtimes. It’s essential when you are going to be working from home.
The second part to this is to check your router. Many of us just use the router that is provided to us by our provider. If you use WiFi to connect then you need to understand how good your router’s WiFi really is.
Getting blackspots in your house or office – areas where connection just doesn’t reach. Having a router that only uses an older slower WiFi protocol could mean you get poor slow connections.
When working from home your internet is probably the most important tool you need. Just do a few checks to ensure you have the best connection available to you. A bad connection could cause you a loss in earnings.
2. The correct software and technology
Second to having a good internet connection is having the correct technology. In reality, it’s probably equal to number 1 – but as there is a little more flexibility with the technology it came is as the second most important item in this list.
To establish terminology – I’m talking about both software and hardware when I talk about technology.
Hardware generally refers to your computer, your router, cables and anything else. If, for example, you could only use an ergonomic keyboard and/or mouse – then you need to make sure you have these available.
Another essential would be the phone. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a hardline phone or mobile – but a phone is essential to do many/most work from home jobs – along with another item that is lower down in this list.
Software refers to any of the applications you need to run. If you’re a software developer for example – you would need access to any of the development products you use. Generally IDE and compilers.
If you work in accounts, you may need Excel. Maybe it’s some other office application. Email is quite often an essential.
What about communication. Generally working remote you need to keep in touch with teammates. You may use Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype or some other product.
Making sure you have all the correct technology to do your job is an essential for any home working – even if you are an entrepreneur and your only employee.
3. Establish boundaries
Sometimes, maybe often, when working from your home it’s difficult to have the boundary between work and home. Some may have an office in your home – where when you are in its business only. Others may work from the dining table.
Boundaries need to be set to ensure that when you are working – you’re working.
If you work for a company they probably have set times. You need to start and end your workday to this same schedule and ensure you don’t slip away and do something else.
At the end of your workday; switch off your computer, tidy away your papers and any other work-related items. Set up an area of your home where you can put all these work items so as to keep them separate to your home items.
If you have a home office, shut the door and leave work behind as you move into personal time.
4. Get dressed
Staying in your pyjamas all-day sound, to many, an ideal situation. Sitting around in your comfortable clothes. The truth is, jumping in the shower, getting washed and then dressed will put in you a better state of mind.
It’s a psychological thing; you’re preparing for work. Even if you are not leaving your house, setting your mind into work mode will allow you to move into the work boundaries you have set-up.
This is especially important if you intend to have any video conferences – people on the other side will not think you very professional if you’re sitting in your pyjamas in your meeting.
Psychologically, being dressed in your PJ’s associates with seel and rest. This is not the best frame of mind to be working in.
Get up, get showered, get dressed and go to your allocated workroom/home office.
5. Phone people
Get on the phone and talk to people. Actually, it’s really a little more than that.
When we talked about essential item 2 we talked about technology. Technology as in hardware and software. Part of that software includes conference and calling tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype and potentially others.
So, when we say phone people, that could be via phone, but also could be through some conference or calling software.
The principle is the same. When working from home you are isolated from your work colleagues. Having that chat around the water cooler or coffee pot just doesn’t happen.
It may be that you are even more isolated if you live alone.
Calling people, chatting with your colleagues can be more stimulating and much more productive than emails.
Make sure you pick up the phone and talk as a default over emails. Email the details later.
6. Get out and about
Above we talked about having boundaries. We talked about routine, getting into the work mindset.
The negative side to that is you stay cooped up inside all day. Usually, you may be doing a daily commute; you guarantee leaving the house. When working from home you commute is from your bedroom to your home office or work area.
Take some time to get out, get some air and a different perspective. Often changing your environment, getting that different perspective, helps remove that mental block you may be having with your current task.
Walking, running, riding a bike. Getting out is also good for your body, not just your soul.
7. Take regular breaks
Take regular breaks. We mentioned taking time and getting out and about. That could be one of these regular breaks – maybe a longer one such as lunchtime.
However, sitting down for long periods of time can cause fatigue and become monotonous.
Don’t stay glued to the screen all day. Take regular screen breaks. Get up from your chair and desk. Move around.
Go grab a drink from the kitchen. Research has found that taking short breaks through the day is more beneficial than less frequent longer breaks.
Many home workers recommend the Pomodoro Technique, a method of time management which breaks your working day into 25 minute chunks. Each chunk is followed by a five-minute break.
Enjoy working from home
Working from home can be a great benefit. No commute. Working in your own clothes. Having food and drink readily available.
Taking the time to set up your schedule and environment means you can get the optimum out of your working from home environment.