Working from home used to be a luxury, but it’s something millions of people across the UK now regard as part of their working week.
Companies are increasingly providing employees with the hardware and network credentials to log in remotely, joining record numbers of self-employed entrepreneurs.
The advantages of home working are numerous – not least the time, money and stress saved by avoiding peak-time commuting ten times per week.
However, working from home also brings a number of challenges, which some people may struggle to overcome.
These ten tips for home workers should help to ensure time spent in your soft office is equally productive to hours spent in a traditional workplace environment…
Have a dedicated workstation. This is perhaps the most important aspect of all, unless working from home consists of checking emails over the weekend.
A desk with storage, an ergonomic chair, a large monitor and an angled full-sized keyboard will collectively aid productivity and reduce muscle strain or fatigue throughout each day.
Position the workstation somewhere quiet. Homes are many things, but peaceful is rarely one of the adjectives which instantly springs to mind.
Whether you commandeer a spare room, build a summerhouse in the garden or work on the first floor landing, a space exclusively for you is crucial for privacy, peace…and storage.
Set aside storage space. Don’t underestimate the volume of peripherals, wires, paperwork and miscellaneous items which accumulate when you work at home.
Having a dedicated storage environment is important to prevent things being lost, maintain any GDPR requirements, maximise efficiency and not annoy other occupants of the house.
Improve home internet security. Change the admin password on your router from ‘password’, and revise the default WiFi password you inherited when it arrived.
Never share or access sensitive information over insecure WiFi networks in coffee shops or public spaces. If your work involves confidential data, install a firewall or a VPN.
Try to establish core hours. One of the great advantages of home working is being able to fit it around existing family commitments.
Nevertheless, discipline is important to maintain productivity. Most people work from 9am to 5pm, so being available between 10 and 12, 2 and 4 will dovetail with colleagues and clients.
Install full spectrum lamps. The dull yellow glow of ceiling lights are rather uninspiring, and will almost certainly be behind you while you’re working.
Full spectrum desk lamps replicate the serotonin-generating effects of sunshine, making them ideal for use in winter. They aid vision, reduce eye strain and contribute to a warm ambience.
Invest in a docking station. Laptops are invaluable for home workers, but long-term use could cause neck strain, headaches, wrist injuries and other health conditions.
Plugging a laptop into a docking station combines portability with a battery of conventional peripherals while working from home – standalone keyboards, monitors, printers, etc.
Resist distractions. It’s very tempting to just watch one episode of Homes Under the Hammer, but distractions quickly start to hinder productivity and motivation.
Work in rooms which don’t have TVs or games consoles in them. Ask friends and family not to ring during the day, and don’t arrange deliveries or appointments for home working days.
Maintain contact with colleagues. Working at home can feel lonely, so keep in contact with people on days you’re not in the office to reduce any sense of isolation.
Collaborative software like Slack is great for working jointly on projects, email is still the main method of file sharing, and Skype/Zoom are useful for video calls and e-meetings.
Choose the fastest WiFi possible. From cloud storage to video conferencing, home workers are heavily reliant on rapid, dependable broadband connections.
Don’t struggle on with a sluggish 11Mbps connection if fibre broadband is in your area. Use our postcode checker tool to establish whether rapid broadband could improve your productivity.