Tips for staff working at home

  1. Make sure you have a dedicated area for home working. Not everyone has the space to have a home office, but at minimum try to select a certain area for working. Ideally, make it in a room that has a door that you can close, so that it is easier to close the door, walk away and switch off when you have finished working.
  2. Create a routine that works for you - this is an opportunity to achieve the work life balance you would ideally like. So give some thought to how you would ideally like your week to be, then make it happen!
  3. Many people who are new to home working find they feel guilty about taking a break to carry out a domestic chore or some other task not related to work. You don’t need to feel guilty! People working in an office usually take short breaks from work too and it if you take breaks throughout the day, you are likely to be more productive overall.
  4. Do pay consistent attention to Health and Safety issues and make sure you complete a homeworking self assessment checklist to evaluate your home working environment from a health and safety perspective. Trailing leads and wires are a particular hazard in the home environment so watch out for this. If you work on a laptop, be aware of your posture and where you are sitting. Long periods stretched out on the sofa with your laptop may not be the best way for you to work, without putting strain on your back.
  5. One of the commonest problems encountered by people working from home is a feeling of isolation. If you are used to the buzz of the office and being surrounded by your team, it can sometimes feel very quiet and lonely alone in your house. Make sure you schedule in time for regular team meetings and make breaks in your day where you can talk to others. You may want to make more use of the telephone instead of email sometimes so that you are in verbal contact or make contact through Skype so you can talk face to face. If you have superfast broadband, you will enjoy great quality on Skype.
  6. Family can be a big distraction if they are at home with you. If you have preschool age children, you cannot try to combine home working with childcare - it is impossible! Make other arrangements for childcare and work whilst you are not caring for your children. And if your children are at school, you will find that school holidays can be a problem. You will have to make it clear to your family that you must not be disturbed whilst you are working.
  7. If you share your home with others, take time to discuss their needs and how they are affected by you working at home. It is important to take their feelings and requirements into account, otherwise it could lead to friction. Try to find a way round any potential problems before they have a chance to develop.
  8. Some people are naturally more self- motivated and self- disciplined than others. If you find it hard to manage your time effectively when you are working at home, discuss with your boss whether you could have extra training in time management or whether you can work out clear action plans together, agreeing what needs to be done by when, so that it helps you plan your time on a daily basis.
  9. Others find no problem with self-motivation, their problem is switching off! In general, people tend to work more hours when working from home than in an office. This is mainly because they use some of the time saved travelling. However, there is also a tendency amongst some people to continue working in the evenings or before normal office hours and this has to be watched. Of course, flexibility of hours and the ability to juggle work with other activities is one of the main benefits of flexible working. But do make sure that you do not end up working considerably more hours than you would in the office as in the end this will lead to stress. Set yourself a time to finish working, turn your computer off, walk away from your home office area and make sure you switch off and relax.
  10. It is vital to keep good communications going with all your colleagues and team members. As well as email and the telephone, you may like to consider instant messaging or Skype as a way of staying in touch. Plan to have regular face-to-face team meetings as well as social occasions when you can catch up with each other. Make sure you use face-to-face meetings as a time to interact in ways that you cannot do so easily remotely for example ‘brainstormings’, debating complex issues, vision sharing.
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