Working from home requires a new way of working. It is not as straight forward as some people may think and comes with it’s own challenges.
I spent many years working remotely, in airports, hotels, including internationally, and I now mostly work from a home office.
There are many aspects to consider when working from home. Some of these are:
- Setting Boundaries
- Setting up a workspace
- Communication with clients/staff/managers
- Making the best use of technology
- Ensuring data security is adequate
- Planning your time
- Overcoming feelings of isolation
Setting boundaries around “I’m at work” is important so there is a distinction between “work” and “leisure” time. Set the expectations for yourself and others in the household. Set times when you are not to be disturbed. There is a risk that family members think that because you are at home, you are available. Some are finding their work/home life boundaries are getting blurred. Difficulties have also risen around the distractions of having children at home during this period of isolation, so consider how you can manage your time and space to meet everyone’s needs.
Setting up a workspace
Setting up your workspace helps to anchor “I’m at work” into your unconscious mind. A local business owner I know has even painted the room at home in his office colours to create the same atmosphere he has at work. Brilliant idea! Discuss your requirements with the household, and reach an amicable outcome. A space where you can close the door works well. One tip is to watch your posture. Perhaps use a standing desk, and switch between seated and standing work.
Planning your time
Working from home will be much more effective when you plan your time. Dedicate time for all your activities, and perhaps set your working hours each day. This can be as flexible as you need, to work in with both your business and home life. One example is to start early in the morning, have a break during the day and continue in the afternoon. Also consider when your clients need you to be available.
Making the best use of technology
There is a lot of technology available today that can assist you with working from home. Video conferencing has come a long way, and platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams, and Skype, have been busy helping people transition to remote working. Although many small business owners have quickly upskilled with technology, some clients aren’t coping so well. Consider how you can assist them by making it as easy as possible for them to connect with you. Also check your bandwidth to ensure it is high enough for video conferencing, and uploading and downloading large files.
Video Meetings with Clients
Be aware that clients may have been using Zoom or other video conferencing platforms for social catch ups in the past, so they may not perceive the difference between a social connection and a business meeting. Consider how you can remind your clients that everyone’s time is important. Some clients may keep casual timing for video meetings, so once again, it is important to make it clear that this is a work meeting, and times need to be respected. Once again, set boundaries and expectations, and consider rescheduling a meeting if the other party is late.
Ensuring data security is adequate
With an increase in online activity, security risks have also increased. Check your settings for video conferencing, and make use of passwords and waiting rooms. It is not a good look to have someone pop up in the middle of one of your meetings. Ensure you also have adequate backups of all your data, and check your backups are actually working. Too many have found out the hard way that their backups had stopped backing up.
Overcoming feelings of isolation – Self Care
Even the most seasoned remote workers can occasionally feel as if the walls are closing in on them, and working from home can feel this way especially when you’re first starting out. Some home workers miss the face to face time they used to have with clients. Savvy remote workers build a support structure inside and outside of work. One suggestion is to organise virtual coffee catchups. It’s also helpful to stay connected to the physical world outside of work. Join an online book club, or a games night at your local pub or library. It is important that every hour or so, you get up and move/stretch. There are apps available to remind you when it's time for a break.
Remote work provides an unparalleled opportunity to build a bespoke life, but it does come with challenges. Set yourself up for success by creating a reasonable schedule, establish boundaries with your loved ones, setup a dedicated workspace, schedule your time, use the technology available, communicate, and build a support structure. You may soon find that you can’t imagine working any other way. No matter what happens, it seems that after we ‘return to normal’, working online will remain part of the work/life mix.
If you would like to learn more about working from home, or remotely, contact me for a chat.