How to work from home without losing your sanity

Productivity trumps the stressful commute

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So, you want to work from home? As it’s #NationalWorkFromHomeDay I thought I’d compile a quick checklist of things you’ll need before you see if you’re cut out for it.

  1. Great Internet – good internet is just not going to cut it. And you simply cannot be sharing it with your little brother who’s playing his PlayStation during the summer holidays. When it comes to that all important video conference with the CEO on your first day working from home, you need your upload speed just as much as your download speed so pay attention to this. It’s worth paying that little extra for FTTC+ rather than scrimping on ADSL and hoping nobody ever calls you or needs you to do anything. You’re not hiding away, you’re boosting your productivity.
  2. Space – working from home is not lying face down on your sofa with a tub of popcorn on one side and the TV remote on the other. Prepare yourself a comfortable workspace. This doesn’t have to be an office – though it could be. The dining table is not in use during the day or even your bedroom dressing table could be turned into your workspace with the right amount of tweaking. Personally, the walk to the bottom of the garden into the “shed” works for me.
  3. Collaborative Tools – something to keep you in touch with the people in the office effectively. This could be anything from Skype to Slack to WhatsApp. Your business needs to or already has made a decision to what they use for communications, this just needs to be extended outside of the office. I use Skype for Business, open up my Outlook calendar to everyone and have my softphone installed on my mobile. I’ve actually saved my colleague in the office from popping his/ her over to see if I’m at my desk or in a meeting – they already know.
  4. Cloud Storage – it’s no good being accessible if all your hard, collaborative work ends up stored on your laptop where nobody else can see it. Onedrive, Sharepoint, Dropbox and the likes provide the rest of your organisation access to work on the document you just slaved over all day and gives your boss a clear view of the amount of work you’re doing.
  5. Breaks – just because you’re at home doesn’t mean that you’re no longer entitled to a break. Go out for lunch if you want to, pop to the gym, walk the dog. It’s just as important to balance your work / rest when you’re in your home workspace as it is when you’re in the office to avoid burnout.
  6. Reliable Equipment – that’s quite a high level requirement but everything in general needs to be of a good standard. If I had a 7 year old computer with a knackered monitor and headset that dropped my sound on and off, I’d be in the office queuing up for replacement equipment every other day. There needs to be a set standard, perhaps a minimum spec for each component you’ll need day to day.
  7. Dog – right, maybe not a dog but you will need something to keep you sane. There will be days where you don’t hear from anybody and are fully focused on completing that project with the tight deadline. This could be a really good Spotify playlist, the radio, your secret knitting hobby.
  8. Cookery Skills – if you don’t want to be buying food when you’re working at home and know you’ll get fed up with beans on toast everyday then work on your cooking skills. Most companies offer a minimum of 30 minute lunch (yes, even for homeworkers) and you’d be surprised what culinary delights you can create and consume in that time.
  9. Windows – there’s nothing worse than feeling cooped up when you’re up against it. Imagine looking around in desperation as you remove your eyes from the screen and seeing nothing but walls, notepads and coffee cups. Fresh air and a little scenery goes a long way.
  10. The Right Company – this means both the company you work for and the company you keep in your workspace. The company you work for needs to trust that you can be left to your own devices (literally) and help you on that journey. The company you keep in your workspace is important. If the thought of making conversation with your parents all day is mind numbing then working at your parents’ house is not for you. Perhaps having your friend over from another company would get you through the day – you’ll find the perfect fit eventually.

You may have noticed my site floating around social media. The theme to this is a better working environment for everyone and includes some jobs, blogs and news that will be of interest if you found this checklist handy.

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