Effective homeworking is a skill and requires dedication. In an office, distraction may come from conversations with colleagues. Or the endless supply of cakes and biscuits. In a home office environment, some of the distractions come from lack of company. Your brain becomes less focussed as it needs stimulation from others.
For others, distractions are in the form of the washing that needs putting on. The dinner that needs prepping for tonight.
Life and work mingling provide extra flexibility. Which can help with things like raising kids. But on the other hand, it can feel like work and life are so interwoven that you are always at work.
In this guide we will look at tips to help home workers, to aid with effective homeworking.
What you should do in advance
Complete a health and safety risk assessment when you are homeworking. Your employer still has a duty of care for you, even in your home office environment.
There should be clear clarification over:
- What your company will provide in the way of equipment.
- What the employee is to provide (e.g. utilities).
- Who the equipment belongs to, and whether the employee can use it for personal use.
The employers should define any implications of homeworking on tax. Visit https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/employment-income-manual/eim32760 for more detail.
Employees should inform their mortgage provider or landlord of your intention to work from home. As well as your insurance provider. Make sure there isn’t anything preventing you from doing so.
Management's Role in Guiding Home Working
The employer should set out clear guidance on how they will manage you, the employee. This includes a strategy for providing you with development, training and promotion opportunities. So, you are not at a disadvantage for not being at the office.
They should also state how often the employee will be the office, for how long, and the reasons for this attendance.
Defining data security policies, including ensuring GDPR and the Data Protection Act are also the responsibility of management. This should include the storage and sharing of documents. As well as whether they permit printed versions.
Ensuring Effective Communication with Colleagues
Ensure effective communication with work colleagues throughout the day. As well as telephone utilise apps such as Zoom, WebEx and Microsoft Teams. Also, set up digital workflows so as you complete work, it automatically triggers actions for the next person to process.
Getting ready for meetings
Meeting setup is more difficult for remote workers.
✔ So Download and try out any software needed in advance
✔ Test your mic and webcam before you join a call
✔ Have a dial-in number or direct messaging option just in case
- When contracts are for set times, make sure you are always contactable during these hours.
- No one shares your personal contact details without your express permission. This includes your landline or personal mobile number.
- No business meetings should be in your home. Unless your insurance covers it and you receive company approval.
- Visits from your employer to your home should be on exceptional circumstances only (welfare or security).
IT requirements for remote workers
Remote users may need to use different software compared to their office-based colleagues. These still need written guidelines and should complement the office environment.
Access should be controlled to your corporate systems. A lot of organisations still use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This allows home workers to access IT resources (email, file resources). It is possible to get a VPN for your mobile too. But it might limit some services available depending on your company policy.
Your employer may reduce security issues surrounding USBs by disabling removable media on your device.
Make sure you have the internet speed you need. Check isitdownrightnow.com when you are experiencing problems.
Create clear schedules during your day. Especially if you are home working to aid flexibility when raising kids.
This schedule might include:
- Mapping out and ensuring you have the quiet you need for any meetings scheduled during the day.
- How you will get your work done during the day. If your kids are off school, do they still go to a childminder? Or do you bookend your day with three hours before the kids wake and three hours of work once, they are in bed?
- When unscheduled calls or meetings take place do you have an emergency activity to keep your kids entertained so you can focus?
Plan your day
Worry that your home has too many distractions?
✔ One-third of remote workers set home office hours to stay focuses
✔ 30% stay productive and motivated by keeping to-do lists
✔ Us the Pomodoro technique - spend 25 minutes on a task then take a short break.
Many home workers tend to do longer hours than those at the office. Either because the office is there, and they can’t ignore it. Or because they feel they are not pulling their weight enough because they are home-based. Hence, a clear schedule allows you to track the hours you have worked. So, you can relax knowing that you have worked as much as the office staff.
Working straight from waking up can help some people get into the swing of things. They then have breakfast when they kit a wall or need a break. It can be easier to motivate yourself to start that way, than sitting on the sofa for a bit with a brew.
We all love to loafing comfy clothes. But it's tough to feel professional if you're still in your pyjamas at lunchtime!
Try and manage family and friends who think homeworking means you are not working. You need boundaries to stop people from popping round for a cup of tea. Or asking you to help them with something.
Minimise noise and interruptions
Set ground rules with any family or flatmates you live with.
✔ Ask them not to disturb you at your desk
✔ Let them know when you have calls or virtual meetings coming up
✔ Tell friends or family who phone you're at work and will call them back
Try not to work on your couch. If you have space create a designated work area, ideally with a proper desk. Not only does this make working easier. But it allows your brain to interpret the signals and move you into work mode.
Create a work space
A dedicated home office or workspace helps separate your work from home life. It needs to be comfortable, well-lit and with space for your equipment. As well as a suitable desk chair, you may need a:
✔ A Laptop stand or docking station
✔ Separate keyboard
✔ Ergonomic mouse
✔ Suitable chair with sufficient back support
Your employer may help with advice and costs, so ask before you buy.
Try and get out of the house for at least half an hour to clear your head. It can remove the feeling of claustrophobia. Or do an online fitness workout on your lunch break just to keep your mind and body active. It also enables you to protect some time to devote to yourself. Especially if you are juggling work and children.
Keeping in Touch with your Team is Important
Keep in touch with your wider team, so you don’t feel lonely or isolated. Have virtual coffee breaks, use instant messaging apps.
Keep in touch
19% of remote workers suffer from loneliness. So stay in touch with your colleagues to build and maintain relationships, feel involved and get the support you need
88% of remote workers use email to connect
47% tap on instant messaging apps
36% use video conferencing
Start your online chats with some social stuff. Or have a 'virtual coffee break' with colleagues.
Restore Digital have the Tools to Support Home Working
Restore Digital have a range of tools that support homeworking. From our Digital Mailroom that disseminates the day's post for processing digitally. So, home working teams can access it as well as office staff. To DocuWare, an electronic document management system. DocuWare allows you to a store, manage and work on documents electronically. It also allows you to set up workflows and automation. As a cloud-based system, it means you can access work any time and anywhere.
Save that report you need to proof. Save that 100-page PowerPoint on a flash drive and use cloud apps that you and your colleagues can access and work on anywhere, any time.
Getting ready to work from home?
If you want any support with effective homeworking just get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org