Working effectively from home

In the past few years, ActionPoint has helped hundreds of organisations build an IT mobility strategy and transition to a mobile workforce. As this becomes a more urgent requirement for businesses around the world, we share some tips on how to work effectively from home.

Covering the Basics

Before we begin, let’s just make sure that we’ve got the basics covered. If you are asked to work from home, there are a few essentials you need to have.

  1. A quality, reliable broadband connection.
  2. A laptop or home computer.
  3. A webcam.
  4. Access to company files and applications.
  5. Productivity tools (we recommend Microsoft 365)..
  6. Some way of staying connected with members of your team (we recommend Microsoft Teams)

If you don’t have these six elements covered, remote working could present a real challenge. (For those that are already second-guessing themselves, we’ve provided this simple checklist.)

1.    Have a Dedicated Workspace

When remote working, especially when doing so from home, it is important to create your own dedicated work environment. This is the space that you get work done. It’s almost impossible to get productive work done on the couch or in your bed as your mind associates those places with leisure and relaxation. Having a dedicated workspace helps to reduce distractions and creates a clear divide between work and leisure. This is not only important for getting in the zone, but it also helps you to switch off at the end of the day. See how some of our team have created their own workspaces.

2.    Have a Routine

When you work in an office, you usually have some sort of routine. You might leave the house at a certain time, switch on your computer at a certain time, read emails, go for your first coffee, have lunch, talk to colleagues, have a mid-afternoon snack and then make your way home. This will, more than likely follow a particular pattern. It’s not Groundhog Day, routines are important. To paraphrase American poet, W.H. Auden – Routine in an intelligent person is a sign of ambition. When remote working this is especially important. Try to check in with your team at the start of your workday, routinely update colleagues on projects, start work, take breaks and end your day at the same time every day.

3.    Maintain Social Interaction

Those small conversations around the watercooler, the quick catchups in the hallway, the friendly chats over coffee, these might not seem important, but they are. Make sure you don’t lose these interactions when you start remote working. Don’t be afraid to schedule video calls, have 1-on-1 meetings and interact on instant messenger. Sometimes these calls don’t even have to be about work, other things are important too. Maintaining strong communication channels helps to alleviate feelings of isolation and create a sense of togetherness.

4.    Trust Your Team

If you’re not able to trust your colleagues or employees, you might as well skip remote working. Just because a team member is offline doesn’t mean they’re not working. Maybe they’ve decided to work at different times of the day. Maybe they want to switch off distractions for a while and work deeply. You have to be able to let go and trust your team. Concentrate on your own work. Worrying about what others are doing and constantly feeling the need to check-in on them will not only reduce their productivity, but yours too.

5.    Be Transparent About Your Own Schedule

One of the great things about remote working is that you can create your own schedule. You find that you work best at a certain time of day or prefer going for a run in the afternoon to freshen up. This might not be possible for all workers but if you do have that flexibility, make sure you discuss it with your team or manager. The best way to build trust when remote working is to be completely transparent. Talk to one another and make sure you are on the same page.

6.    Look After Your Own Wellbeing

Most importantly, look after your own wellbeing. When you are working from home you can often feel pressured to prove yourself and work around the clock. Don’t be afraid to get up, take breaks, walk around, get some fresh air and stretch your legs. When it’s time to end your workday, commit wholeheartedly. Without the normal workday signals, like a commute, it can be harder to unplug. Create your own shutting down routine. Clear your desk, mark off tasks on your to-do list, sign out if required and walk away. Just like you try to leave work at the office, be sure to do the same with your new at-home office.

Is your organisation ready to embrace remote working? Does your team have everything it needs to work effectively? To find out, refer to our 5-point checklist – ActionPoint Checklist: Getting Your Team Set up for Remote Working

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