If you have the opportunity to work from home or you’re going to set up your own business from home, you have to have the right mindset and approach in order to make it work. Giles O’Halloran shares some helpful tips and considerations that might help make homeworking that bit more productive

It is working and not shirking

Not only is it usually more cost effective to base an individual from home, but employees or business owners can also often be more productive as a result. You are in a familiar environment and without the cost or nightmare of a commute, office space, facilities etc.

Despite the opposite belief, it is also often the case that we work longer hours when working from home. The reason for this is that despite working from home being something that has been about for a long time, we still naturally feel that working from home is frowned upon. This is largely due to a common culture of “presenteeism” within companies and the belief that you are not working unless you are at your desk in an office. This therefore makes us feel as though we need to put in more hours to prove that it is not the case and that we are in fact working rather than shirking from home. This is a shame, but often means we put in more …despite it being the wrong motivating factor.

So first things first, don’t let the dated and backward beliefs of others hold you back. Plan and set your work up. Focus on output and what your produce, rather than where you are doing it. If you start with this mindset, create an appropriate working space and plan how you will work, it should become that bit easier to manage.

Create a workspace

Working in the right environment and space is what matters. People often try and work on a laptop in front of the television or at a dining room table, but it is best if you create a dedicated space so you can work. It could be a desk, a spare room, under the stairs etc. The reason I say this is that despite all our mobile technology and open plan offices etc. – people always need space to think and focus on the work they do. Creating a special space for work will make you more productive and ensure you can focus on what needs to be achieved.

When creating the space, you also need to think about your comfort and health. Make sure you do not have any hazards or risks, such as wires trailing, an exit in case of an emergency etc. Whether you are an employee or a business owner, you have a responsibility to yourself and legally to work in a safe environment. Don’t forget that.

Create a daily schedule

Plan what you are doing to do and be realistic about what you can achieve. You need to feel productive and that you are achieving objectives. It is therefore healthy to plan each day’s schedule, adapting it as you progress. By doing so, you are able to focus on your work, manage your workload effectively and you also feel as though you are achieving your aims. Whether you are an employee or a business owner, it really is essential that you plan and adapt your work so that you can prove to yourself or to your manager that you are working productively. That is half the battle won for yourself and will therefore make you feel more comfortable with the arrangement.

Plan calls and talk to people

Make sure you schedule calls and the opportunity to speak with other people – whether clients, colleagues or business partners. Having those calls as part of your day helps you feel connected to the wider world and prevents feelings of isolation. It will also give you more of a buzz in your work too, and this will make you more productive. Those calls could be courtesy updates, project calls or just friendly catch ups. The point is that you are making time to communicate with others, which is essential in today’s business world.

Get social media savvy

Social media is a great tool for those working from home. Not only is it a helpful way to generate a presence and potential business , but investing time in networking on line will also help you feel more connected. It could be a great way to find new clients, new opportunities and share knowledge that helps open more doors for your business or the work you do with your employer. However, it is more importantly a tool that keeps you connected to others and keeps your finger on the business pulse. So invest time in creating, maintaining and expanding your online presence. This can really be a business winner for those based predominantly at home.

Take a break

If you work in a particular space, focused on your computer and your phone, it is healthy to take breaks away from your work space. Not only is it good for your eyes and your posture etc., but it is healthy to take a break from work and let your brain cool off. A break can help you look at a problem differently, help you manage your workload, reduce work into manageable chunks etc. – it helps a great deal with managing stress and tasks effectively. So make sure you schedule regular breaks in your day so that you keep in the best frame of mind.

Get out and about

Even though your business or your work might be based from home, it doesn’t mean you are a prisoner and need to stay there. Make time to go out and meet clients, attend network or trade events and get your face out there. If you work for a company, make time to visit office locations, see your team or colleagues, or even work from a drop in centre if you can. Making and maintaining contact with colleagues not only makes you feel part of the company, but also ensure your keep in touch with what is going on.

From a client management perspective, business has not yet completely gone online, and tools like Skype have still not replaced the one to one or face to face meetings. There is real value in going out and meeting people, it is good for you, your work and your business. That’s how people get to know you, what you are doing and the work you do.

Track your achievements

It is good to plan your day and meet your objectives, but always remember to track what you have achieved. Not only does this ensure that at the end of the day you walk away from your work desk feeling you have genuinely achieved something, but it also ensures you manage your work and that you make the adjustments when needed to deliver objectives. This is just as important for the employee as it is the business owner – it is about identifying what you have achieved and keeping everything on track.

Celebrate Success

If you have had a good day or done something that has gone really well, do take time at the end of the day to celebrate that success. Whether it is treating yourself to a good meal, a takeaway, eating out or going out, it is important to celebrate what you achieve. Not only does this ensure you take a break away from the work space and unwind, it also ensures you recognise things you have achieved and this is best done with friends and family around you. Working from home should never mean being alone, so enjoy a little celebration every so often.

About The Author

Giles O’Halloran is an experienced Recruitment and HR professional, with a wealth of knowledge in both sectors. He has worked for a number of large and respected organisations, including blue chip and global recruitment companies. Giles has spent over 15 years providing CV writing, interview preparation and professional networking support to clients in both the public and private sector. He also has over a decade of service in two branches of the Reserve Forces. Feel free to connect with Giles via Linkedin or follow him on Twitter via @GilesOHalloran

The above is an expansion of a piece produced previously by Giles for the Officers’ Association.