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4 Tips for effective home working ......

1.  Set up your new home working environment

Establishing a designated workspace can help tell your brain you’re in the place where you do work productively.

Even if you don’t have a personal work environment dedicated to welcoming your new professional life, here are a few tips to help you arrange your work environment in the best way possible.

  • If you have a dedicated workspace: Make room and arrange it as you would at work, with your computer, notebook, and telephone at hand.  A desk and work chair placed in a well lit area close to power points and maybe even some storage, to keep your essential items to hand and paperwork organised.
  • If you don’t have a dedicated workspace:  A corner of the living room can be used as an office. Opt for a table, or possibly a folding desk, and find the most comfortable chair, as you may be sitting for long periods of time. You should be able to rest your arms and forearms on work surface at a 90° angle. If you can, it is a good idea to invest in a well designed work chair, otherwise your back may pay the price in the long run.  Don’t forget to stay close to an electrical outlet to plug in your computer battery.
  • Avoid eye strain:  Choose a bright space if possible, close to a window but do make sure you avoid sun glare on your screen. Alternatively add a desk lamp and/or a light fixture to sufficiently light up your workspace. Don’t place your lamp too close to your computer to avoid reflections on the screen that could strain your eyes.  Adjust the brightness of the screen to match the room lighting. If the white background of a document looks like a light source: your screen is too bright; if it looks dull and grey: your screen is probably too dark. You can also adjust the contrast and font size to your liking. Alternate your tasks and stretch your hands, neck, shoulders and lower limbs regularly.
  • Don’t forget to keep essential items close to hand.  Keep everything you need to work effectively from home within easy reach. A desk drawer can help to keep things organised, or a pedestal with a filing drawer will keep paperwork tidy, and confidential if it has a lock.  Alternatively using a box to keep your essentials in can be really practical.

Woman working at a laptop in home office enjoying a cup of coffee

2.  Make a schedule

Stay with the Rhythm

Remote working requires discipline and like an office based job a schedule will help keep you on track. That doesn’t mean your entire day has to be work only (it’s actually important to take regular breaks to refresh yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally), just that any non-work activities, such as picking up the children or taking the car to the garage also need to be scheduled.

Get started, take breaks and stick to your regular work schedule: here are a few tips to help you set the pace of your day as if you were at the office.

  • Enjoy a lunch break. You should get away from your desk at least once a day (just as in the office).  Taking a walk will refresh and energise you
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Respect your usual working hours.
  • Don’t forget the tools that will help you organise your day: Outlook, Planner, OneNote, Post-it Wall, etc. Take the opportunity to use all the Office 365 tools that make our lives easier and allow us to organise our day.
  • Get into the habit of setting timers on your phone to help you respect your break times and keep to our schedule.
  • It's a good idea to share your schedule with co-workers and family, so they know when you are and aren't available.

    home office with laptop showing the time

    3.  Maintain communication

    Keep in touch

    Maintaining remote communication with your colleagues or manager is essential, here are some tips :

    • Say hello to all your colleagues as you start your day. - For a quick "Hello" or if you need to ask a quick question or send a fast update to your team, chat apps like Google Hangouts or Slack are a good alternative to email.
    • Organise a snack or coffee break to share news. And why not celebrate birthdays, share tips for kids, learn things, each anything you like.
    • Organise formal daily or regular meetings.
    • Talking face to face can help collaboration, so consider videoconferencing for these moments.A man working from home waving to his colleagues on a videoconference

    4.  End your day with a routine

    Just as you should start your day with a routine.

    Create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be a sign off on business messaging apps, an evening dog walk or joining a 6pm online yoga class. You might have a simple routine such as shutting down your computer and turning on a favorite podcast. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.

    Make working from home a positive experience

    A smiling woman, happily working at home on her laptop

    In order to make the most of working from home here are our essential recommendations. 

    Establish your work space

    • make it as comfortable and suitable for working as possible.
    • keep it organised with your essential work item at hand.

    Create a routine

    • turn morning commute time into a transition period with an activity that indicates you are preparing to move from your personal to professional world.  Make triggers in your morning routine define the start of work your working day. It might be making a cup of coffee, reading the news or perhaps finishing a workout.
    • Taking care of your well-being involves regular breaks.

    Set up a process for collaboration

    • Working from home might seem like a solo experience but it usually still involves interacting with others
    • Maintain good communication channels with colleagues
    Set work limits 
    • It is essential to cut your workday at a reasonable time so that you dedicate time to another activity and don’t become overloaded. 
    • Switch off - Strike a balance between private life and professional activity. _ Respect rest and holiday periods.
    • Disconnect from remote communication tools during breaks.

    Above all else, figure out what works best for you, your job and your household.