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Innovation Directors top tips for working at home

March 19th 2020

Author: Neil Griffin, Innovation Director

On the whole I am actually a big fan of working remotely or working from home on occasion, once each week or so can really help focus your mind and allow you to clear the decks. In fact I sometimes think I am more productive as I avoid distractions in the workplace and let’s face it you all know what those are.

These really productive days working from home are all well and good but if you are doing it for a prolonged period of time there are a few things you can do to stay productive and get your mindset right.

Here are my top 5 tips for any people working from home in a small business:

1. Check your Mindset
Remember you are at work! And that may sound simple but getting yourself into that mindset is all well and good, but you also need to keep it there. An easy win is ‘dressing’ for work, I am not expecting you to put on a suit and tie or even a power dress but gone are the days of staying in pyjamas and pants, so wear something that you would normally wear or something smart casual.

The other thing is to pick a dedicated place to work in the home and stick to it (not in front of the TV).

2. Get some Rigour
Another biggie is to follow your normal routine for getting ready for work. This also includes getting some rigour into your day in the form of a schedule, whether this is a to do list, priority list or something a bit more sophisticated like using Trello (highly recommended to move and assign tasks). This will keep you productive all day as it shows your achievements and wins and also allows you to set tasks for team members.

Making sure you set time for regular breaks and setting a time for lunch is vital and so is sticking to it. Starting earlier in the day say 8am and finishing at 4pm will help with this as your more productive early in the day. Again, you are working so it’s a no to doing household chores like washing or cleaning, however tempting that is.

The golden rule is if you wouldn’t be doing it at work then don’t do it when you are working from home, so give the TV box sets a miss as well. That does apply to finishing ‘work’ at 5pm, don’t start doing too much and burning out, that is equally important with considerations from both the employee and employer.

3. Difficult tasks first
If you are using a To do list or Trello, my advice would be to put the most difficult, challenging and hardest tasks at the top of those lists. This again will focus you to getting those done as a priority and also take it off your mind, this eases the pressure build up and anxiety.

4. Communication is vital
Even if you are conscientious worker some bosses still don’t get the whole WFH concept and think you will slack off. So to combat that, don’t neglect to check in regularly with colleagues and bosses — it’s important to make yourself ‘visible’ even if you aren’t in the office. Make sure you are following up emails regularly each day and schedule in calls and Virtual meetings.

If you are the boss make it clear to your team what your expectations are and how you will be communicating and what you expect from them when checking in.
The other thing to remember is your personal wellbeing, isolation and loneliness can get real very quickly, so pick up the phone to colleagues when you need to.

5. Self-PR through Social media
Anyone who thinks they won’t check their social media pages when working from home is kidding themselves. So how do you combat being on it 24/7?

My recommendation is this…Do early morning posts and checking you pages before you ‘start the day’ it is then out of your system and you have satisfied your social need. Then you can log in again just after lunch and reply to any comments, questions and posts.
This is also a good time to think about your own Self-brand and posting around work topics, news and trends that are out there, this can raise you and your companies’ profile.

Finally…
Today’s work from home policies are far more flexible and fluid than the rigid policies of yesteryear. Regardless of what your HR policies may dictate, times are changing with companies and employees alike needing to adapt to the industries and world they are in.
Today, that includes more flexible work options, paired with a leadership style that helps remote workers flourish and drive impact.