I prefer to call it remote working, as for me at least, ‘working from home’ still invokes images of a laptop open on the coffee table with Rick Stein’s Food Heroes on in the background.
Whether you call it ‘remote working’ or ‘home working’, it’s not for everyone. I’ve worked with plenty of colleagues who can’t stand the isolation and quiet that home has to offer. For some people working in the office is what having a job is all about, especially if it’s in a decent location and the work is enjoyable.
I’ve always defended to office as a place to work, it’s often maligned by people in boring practical jobs as somewhere hopeless, and somehow lacking authenticity. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth, find the right company and the office is a place of learning, inspiration, outrageous fun and love. Stuff the building site with the cold, the inane conversation and stupidity.
There’s loads I miss about our office in Regent Street, the lovely people, intelligence, quick fire humor and the slightly chaotic feel of a sales based business. However life changes and so do people, it’s just the way it is.
For all the positives the office has to offer, remote working also has it’s own benefits. Your own music and toilet for example, possibly at the same time, and apart from the fridge, no distractions.
So here are my tips for remote working.
1. Create your own space
Hunching over your ageing Dell laptop in the kitchen while your 3 year old begs for another episode of Paw Patrol will end in no work getting done, for any extended periods of remote working you’ll need your own space.
This is the prefect opportunity for you to create a space for yourself. My partner and I both work from home and are lucky enough to have the space for two small offices. Both have full size desks, an office chair and double monitors. There’s proper lighting and all the equipment necessary for work. Mandy’s self importance has even extended to a company name plate on her door.
It needs to be a space that you’re happy to spend time in, so decorate it as you would any other room in your home and don’t let it be treated as a dumping ground for family shit that should never have been in the house in the first place.
2. Embrace the microwave
The microwave oven, a fantastic piece of technology given an bad name by microwave meals and food shows on TV. A microwave great for heating up leftovers that have oxygenated for a couple of days. Delicious! You could save up to £2000 a year
3. Get up
With no commute you don’t have to get up as early, however this also means that there’s no excuse for being late. Resist the temptation to lay in, get up at a reasonable time (6:45 for me), have a half decent breakfast and start work on time. You’ll feel better and get more done, which in turn will make you feel even more smug.
4. Get dressed
I know remote workers who wear a shirt because it puts them in the right mindset, probably something smart, TM Lewin, 4 for £30 and they’ll last for two to three washes. I don’t go that far but I dress as I would for work to give the day a purposeful feel. That grubby dressing gown that has never been washed will make the Amazon delivery guy think you’re a sex pest and make you look like a drug addict on Skype, not a great look when trying to convince the office that the remote thing is working out.
5. Get some tech
Cat5 in the office, twin monitors and a fan. A webcam and some speakers of some sort so you don’t have to sit there with headphones on like you work in a call centre. If your company wont buy you some gear, contact your trade union and start causing trouble. If you’re not in a trade union make the standard productivity case to your line manager (That old chesnut!).
6. Get out
I take princess to the nursery, it’s only a 15 minute round trip but it feels like a commute of some sort. The cheap shirt wearing guy I know leaves his house every morning for a coffee in an attempt to separate work and home life. In the same way that a walk at lunchtime or a few minutes sat in the garden will prevent you ending up on the front of the local paper – “Otherwise boring Web Developer loses the plot and smashes home up with axe”.
7. Be available
Use technology to make sure your colleagues can get hold of you. Remote working is great for concentration but being all important by having Teams on Do Not Disturb will make your colleagues hate you even more than they already do. If you’re not a manager and actually do something other than talk, the likelihood is that you’ll probably be more available as a remote worker anyway.