Quick Wins When Working From Home

For many of us working from home in some form or other is here to stay. To ease the transition, we’ve put together some Tips and Tools.

TIP #1 Soak Up The #WFH Benefits

Take a moment to consider the good in all this. The daily commute in traffic gridlock is over. You get to spend time with family, no more overpriced convenience store pre made sambos, you can probably juggle those zoom calls with some DIY, you can wear your onesie all day, your don’t have to see your colleague’s stupid face in person, the list goes on…

TIP #2 Create a Designated Home Workspace

You may be working from home for a while. Give the dining room table a miss and invest in a proper desk and office chair. Harvey Norman is offering good home office deals right now. For Zoom and Skype calls, consider also investing in some background decoration such as plants or pictures. Ikea have some fantastic artificial plants that don’t cost the earth.

Once you’ve got the kit, set aside a workspace in your home where your least likely to be  interrupted, preferably a space with a closed door. Minimise interruptions by being firm with family and co-house members.

Creating a pleasant workspace will also help fight urges to Netflix & Chill which is officially the fastest way for your work to pile up and for you to fall behind. Take the opportunity to get remote working right this time and maybe your boss will let you do it again!

TIP #3 Perfect your writing Skills

You’ll likely be communicating more by written messaging, for example with Slack or other Instant messaging tools. It can take time to master effective communication in this way as you need to be brief, but not informal like in a text message. Be clear and be precise and deliberate in messaging. Don’t leave room for ambiguity and keep it clear and to the point. Dont be shy about including a screen shot if something could be open to interpretation. If in doubt, use tip #4

TIP #4 Clarify with Video Calls

Video calls are not just for scheduled meetings. They are very useful if something is being misunderstood in, for example a slack or email thread. Don’t be afraid to drop in a link to a Zoom video chat suggesting that you and your colleague video chat even for just a moment or two. Visual communication can be the antidote to misunderstanding.

Remember before you jump on a video call, check you background scenery, your lighting, your microphone and your laptop speakers. Don’t be afraid to use the mute button when needs be. Oh and please if you’re using a laptop, elevate it by placing it on a few books or something and avoid subjecting your caller to a full blown view of the inside of your nose.

Some other practical tips for video calls:-

  • Send reminders to all participants 30 minutes before the call to ensure they log in on time.
  • Send guidelines to participants to include advice on setting up in an area of their home that has minimal distractions and that will allow them to focus on the call.
  • Have a chairperson to manage the call and keep the flow of any discussions. In conferencing call apps such as Zoom, you can mute and unmute conversations which will allow people to all have an opportunity to speak on a topic without talking over each other.
  • Ask participants to have done a test on all technical equipment to ensure they are properly set up when the call is due to take place. Otherwise it can be very distracting to a video call.

TIP #5 Draw a line between work and home

Blending work and home can make it difficult to switch off when work is over. Firstly, when the working day is over, close down the computer and leave it off until you clock on next day. If you have a home office or a separate work area in an open plan living space than try reinforcing the transition by adjusting the lights in the work area. Go further and adjust the “feeling” of the space by  closing the curtains or even swapping out your office chair for a cosy chair. Mark the end of work time by  the garden for some fresh air, taking a walk or trying a home workout.  These techniques will help you to draw a line under the working day, to switch off and get meaningful down time.

During working hours, take structured breaks. Enjoy Morning coffee time and lunch time in the knowledge that you’ve saved on time by not commuting to the office.  Make an effort to try an activity that helps you to enjoy a proper break. Kaylaitsines has some great online workouts r to choose from that fit nicely into a lunch hour and with no equipment needed! Try also Fiit which is perfect for home workouts in small spaces.

TIP #6 Use the Right Tools

There are multiple remote work tools out there. For those who find themselves thrown in at the deep end here is our list of essentials to get you started:-

Slack – Instant Messaging, video calls and more

Google Drive – File Sharing and real time document collaboration.

Zoom – Video Conferencing. Great for large teams and inviting third parties.

Asana – A team project management platform. Create tasks and to-do lists, allocate responsibility, track progress and accountability.

Dropbox– Reliable file sharing with collaboration tools.

Bonus Tool: Avoid the Social Media Black Hole What starts with a quick peek at your insta feed can end up as a time  loosing hypnotic sesh of time you’ll never get back. Use “Screen Time” on your phone to limit the time you spend scrolling. On iPhone go to settings> screen time> downtime. During downtime, only apps that you choose to allow will be available. Alternatively, turn off notifications for the worst offending apps (eg that WhatsApp group that just won’t stop). Other tools out there enable you to limit the amount of time you spend on websites. Stay focused is one such tool that you can add as an extension to Chrome.