Working from home is not easy. Many like to think it is and, for some businesses, its supposed ease is a reason that enforces now provenly outdated ideas, such as that remote working being detrimental to productivity. However, both those who have begun working from home this year and those who held established home offices before the country’s lockdown will know, it is a working lifestyle that comes with many challenges.
As someone who has worked remotely for a number of years, I want to help others to avoid the mistakes I made. During my first month as a remote worker, or telepresent employee, I fell into the pitfall of thinking it would be easy too. I set my laptop up on my kitchen table, I worked into the evenings, and I kept an eye on emails out of hours. After a few weeks, I began to feel burned out.
The truth is that you have to take it seriously, understanding that the home is not a place that innately welcomes work. Expecting to manage a professional role while working from your sofa simply won’t happen. So, to steer you on the right path, here are the basics every remote worker needs to know.
This is an unavoidable and essential asset of remote working; you need an office. You need a room that allows you to enter work mode, one that allows you to close the door at the end of the day as you would have done working in a central and shared space. Without this dedicated a private room for your professional life, work will eventually spill over into your personal life, affecting both your ability to relax and your mental health. Whether you convert a spare room or you’re one of the many installing log cabins in their garden for an outdoor office, before you take on a remote position, you should acquire such a space.
Your office is more than physical too, it’s digital. One of the best decisions I made for my productivity was to get a second phone and laptop. These were dedicated to working and, at the end of the day, they were switched off. Having this secure and closed digital space allowed me to better separate my professional life and my personal one.
Sticking to your hours is serious business. Regardless of what managers may say, on the whole, remote workers end up dedicating a greater number of hours to their roles, working more and not less. If you don’t develop a schedule and stick to it, you will find yourself chasing up emails in the evening or opening your laptop earlier to get a head start. Not only do these actions set unrealistic expectations for your line managers but they also contribute to mental ill-health.
Another part of your routine is taking a break. Being only a few steps from the fridge means it is easy to eat and work, to sit in a meeting while eating your lunch. If you begin denying yourself a full break, one that is away from your computer and preferably outside, your work will eventually suffer.