Many companies have adopted some remote work, so the home office is here to stay. This certainly has benefits, from spending less on commuting to more flexible working hours. But it’s not without its challenges either. That’s why we want to share some tips on how to make work-from-home work for you.
First, though, let’s remember the positives and why many of us still enjoy working from home.
What's good about working from home?
You don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to get in a car, on a train, bus, or the tube.
You could go for a run, read a book, practice a hobby or spend time with family. When you add up all the mornings and evenings not spent commuting, that’s a lot of breathing space.
Spend less on transport
Research by Lloyds Bank says the average UK worker spent almost £800 per year on commuting in 2019.
That used to cost on average of £37,399 over a commuter’s working life. So, if you work from home even one day per week, you could be saving thousands.
Avoid travel stress
There are no train delays, traffic jams, or tube strikes when you’re at home.
You don’t have to fight through crowds to stand staring at the back of someone’s head for an hour.
Get more focus
Many people say they’re more productive at home because there’s less distraction. Especially if you’re doing detailed work, it can help to be away from a buzzing office space.
The challenges of working from home
Most of us don’t have a purpose-built office at home, and we might need to adjust our habits a little. A 2021 study found that 9% of people felt negative about working from home a few days a week. Some of the problems we can face when working from home are:
- Not having dedicated office space
- Not having the right furniture or equipment
- Having to multitask with family or housework
- Feeling socially isolated
- Difficulty collaborating with colleagues
- Finding it hard to switch off
- Being less physically active
Some of these things aren’t easy to change, like where we live or the size of our house. For the rest, we’ve got some top tips to help you work from home like a boss.
Our top tips for working from home
1. Getting set up right
If possible, you want a quiet area without distractions. Even in a small space, you can dedicate a corner to where you’re going to work. Have everything there ready, like your stationery and computer equipment.
An office chair is best if you can get one, but otherwise, you can get seat cushions designed to improve your posture. And if you can’t have a fixed desk, there are affordable fold-up ones that you can put away after work.
It’s best to have your screen set up at eye level. This will stop you from straining your back and neck. Try adjusting your chair or stacking up some books under your laptop if you need them.
To avoid hand strain, it’s recommended to use an external keyboard. These are usually smoother to type with and will also stop your laptop from getting wear and tear.
2. Have a routine
Even though you’re at home, it’s healthier to keep your work and home life separate. Otherwise, your work can take over your free time, and your personal life can creep into your work.
The easiest way to draw the line is by sticking to a routine. This means:
- Getting up at the same time each day — some people like to simulate a commute by going for a walk before work, which is also great for your physical and mental health.
- Dressing in normal working clothes — you might not need to dress as formally as in the office, but wearing pyjamas is not highly motivating either.
- Eating decent meals at set times — it’s no secret that eating well can help you perform and feel better. Put your lunch break in your diary so you can’t be dragged into a meeting.
- Taking regular breaks — in an office, we often get up for a coffee, chat with someone, or check the weather outside. You should do the same at home — it’s natural to stretch your legs and take your eyes off the screen for a few minutes.
- Resisting the urge to keep going — this depends on your job, and sometimes we may need to give a bit extra. But if it’s the norm, you risk burning out. A healthy work-life balance is what we need.
3. Set work boundaries
The flexibility of working from home can make it hard to shut others out, like your partner, children, or pets. It’s good to enjoy their company, but unexpected interruptions can cause stress and throw you off your game.
If this happens, talk about your work schedule with whoever is bothering you. Let them know what you need to get done, and set boundaries for when they can see you.
4. Use tech to collaborate
From video calls to group chats, there are a lot of ways to communicate from afar. These platforms are evolving all the time and people are getting more creative. In informal meetings, you can add some fun with an interesting background or turn yourself into a cartoon character.
If your team is into culture, have you tried touring a museum or gallery virtually together? You can also do quizzes, show films, and play games.
For more serious work, there are plenty of ways to collaborate on documents in real-time. This cuts out all the email back-and-forth, helping speed up your work and keep everyone aligned.
5. Get out and about
When you were in the office, you probably used to walk at least some of the way. Maybe it was only to the station or to and from your car, but it all adds up. On top of that, you may have walked around the building more than you do at home.
Going for a walk once a day can do wonders for your health, mood, and concentration. By taking your mind off work, a walk outside often helps you refocus. And it can help you burn off excess calories and keep a healthy heart.