Working in an open plan office for most of us includes some sort of manoeuvring to optimise our workspace. This may mean steering away from co-workers who are chatty or have irritating habits; avoiding busy walk through areas, and noisy areas near meeting rooms, kitchens and toilets; trying to be near a window or natural light; locating a place where work calls can be taken without disturbing others; and negotiating office temperature settings. After I had my kids I was offered the opportunity to work from home, and suddenly all of that disappeared, and work was simply work.
If you would like to work from home, consider whether the role you currently have is suited to working from home. Are you part of a team where you need to work alongside your colleagues for best results, or do you work with equipment or information that should not leave the office? Next think about your line manager, have you established trust and demonstrated a solid work ethic. Finally think about the space you have at home and whether it would be a good work environment for you (check for potential obstacles such as a nearby barking dog or construction) and review your company’s policies on working from home.
Working from home is just like working in the office. You need to arrive at work, mentally switch on, and keep a track of your hours worked, and break times.
As you would in the office, ignore distractions and be clear with family and friends that working from home means you are working, not accepting calls and drop ins.
To avoid feeling isolated, use your computer and phone to attend meetings, and be collaborative with impromptu calls with team members outside of formal meetings.
Tips for Working from Home
- Identify the time of day that you are most productive and make the most of this period, eg. power through a challenging task in the morning, work on some easier administrative task in the afternoon.
- Have a dedicated work phone, to be contactable, and prevent work calls coming through on a non-business line.
- Establish a routine and then stick to it, incorporating limits and breaks, so that you don’t feel like you are working all the time. If you need to work outside of the routine, eg. take an early morning or late evening work call, treat yourself to a break during the day.
- Avoid working until late at night, it can be really hard to wind down and get a good sleep.
Message for the Managers
Be ready to have ongoing conversations with each of your staff about their workplace, and to check in with them if their work environment (in the office or at home) is working for them and the role they are performing. Benefits for the individual working from home include avoiding the time lost, stress and cost of commuting to an office, and benefits for their work include increases to productivity due to working in a quieter atmosphere. We spend so much of our lives at work, it makes sense to make this time as happy as possible.
Written by Monique Anderson, Principal Medical Writer, Delve Medical Writing