Home office (4)

‘Home-working’ is becoming ever-more popular in the modern workplace. Looking at the figures, it’s not a surprise as to why. A study by travel services company CTrip found that letting employees work from home increased their productivity by 13%.

In addition, employees who worked from home were 50% less likely to leave the company, and reported higher job satisfaction, than those who worked in the office every day.

From the workers’ perspective, working from home certainly has its perks – you avoid the commute and have time to work flexibly across the day. It’s especially useful for those with young children or elderly parents.

With the obvious benefits, small businesses particularly could be cashing in on the opportunity to save money on space and furniture – and increase the talent pool, as location becomes less of an issue. However, not everyone suits working from home - many struggle to find the right balance, or get easily distracted. How can you ensure that working from home can work for you?

  1. Create a workspaceOne difficulty of working from home is keeping motivated with many distractions. Creating the perfect workspace is key to successful home-working. Ensure you have all the tools you will need – sometimes this is just a laptop, but make sure all the relevant programs are accessible. Creating a private, and quiet workplace will help you to immerse yourself in the work day, and separate it from your personal life.
  1. Take breaksWhen you’re working from home, you often end up working longer hours as you don’t have to commute. This doesn’t mean you have to work through the whole day. Getting outside for half an hour can do wonders for your productivity and it’s important to take a break from the screen – even if you feel like it’s ‘slacking’. Most businesses nowadays will trust their staff to get the job done, no matter where they are. This includes giving yourself regular breaks from work, even if it’s just for ten minutes.
  2. Refrain from socialisingA common problem with working from home is that you suddenly become permanently available in the eyes of your family and friends. It’s really important to set boundaries that you are at work, and not available for Facebook chat. Prevent yourself from distractions by logging out of social media channels and turning off your notifications. If you have family in the house, try and separate yourself. Sit in another room and shut the door, explaining why it’s important that you focus.
  1. Create a routineThis is probably one of the most important points and can impact how the rest of your day will go. It might be tempting to turn off the alarm and then pull your laptop into bed and read your emails, but you won’t be at your most productive. Behave instead as if you are going to work – because you are! Preparing yourself for work will make you feel much more motivated and energised when you open your laptop, and will mean you are ready to jump on any conference calls should the need arise.Likewise, when you have finished the work day, put your laptop away and clear your desk. By mentally switching on and off in this way, you heighten the likelihood of clear focus during the times you are actually working.
  1. Use technologyThe rise of home working is largely down to the fact that it is so easy to keep in touch with colleagues through technology – so make sure you do! You could start the day with a quick phone or Skype check-in so that your team is aware you are online and available for questions. Make sure all the relevant people can contact you easily if the need arises – this will also reassure your team that you are available. A Skype meeting can also be beneficial in lieu of an actual face to face meeting, and can help make you feel more a member of the team, even if there is distance between you.

By Rose Legg-Tero, author at Opus Energy