When Covid-19 brought the UK to a stand still in March 2020 an estimated 46.6% of the British workforce (Office for National Statistics) was working from home, 86% was as a result of the pandemic. Since lockdown started to lift, homeworking had become a way of life for about half of the British workforce.
I have been working from home, building my business, since September 2019 and I have enjoyed every minute of it. But working from home is not for everyone. I discovered I had to put certain measures in place to make it work for me.
Let me explain my top 4 tips to make working from home a success.
1. Set up a proper office
This is the first tip to make working from home a success. When I first started working from home, I didn’t have an office as such. I was working from my kitchen table, my sofa, the dining table, my bed but after a while I felt I needed to have a ‘proper’ space to do my work. So I set up a proper office, with a desk, a comfortable desk chair, filing cabinet and folders. This way I had a designated space for my business.
It also meant I could close the door to distractions because believe me there are a lot of distractions when you are working from home. From having a dirty kitchen, to a pile of laundry that needs doing, to the postman or your neighbour knocking on your door to just name a few! It is very easy to get distracted so having a space where you can close the door and just not see the (majority of the) distractions worked really well for me.
My office is very organised and tidy as I can’t work otherwise. I have a few tips about this as well.
2. Set your working hours
Tip no. 2 to make working from home a success is related to the previous point. When working from home you could be working every hour of the day (see my bed as a working place!) but we all know that that is not good for stress levels and ultimately our mental health. So because you are your own boss you can and need to make sure you set your own office hours!
Not everybody likes to work 9-5 and being your own boss you don’t have to! If you are a morning person you can get the bulk of your work done in the morning. More of an evening person? Then you work in the evening! Do you have children and need to work around school drop off/pick up no problem. You are the boss so you can decide when you set your office hours but make sure you communicate them so your clients know them as well.
3. Get organised
Tip 3 to make working from home a success is with regards to getting yourself organised. Everybody works in different ways which is great because it will increase your productivity, however you need to make sure you have your work organised and work processes are in place.
For example, I time batch my work. So I set certain times to do certain tasks. This doesn’t work for everyone but I find this works the best for me as it means I need to concentrate on one thing.
I also work with a to-do list, several actually. I use Trello for my overall to-do list and use good old pen and paper to make a daily list. I use a BIG notepad for this as I usually have ideas popping into my head while I am working. So as not to get distracted with the task I am doing, I note these ideas down to refer to later.
4. Make time to see people
Tip no. 4 to make sure you enjoy working from home is to make sure you make time to see people. Being self-employed can be quite lonely. Most days you are by yourself and do not really see anyone else. So if you are the type of person who loves to be around people and loves the atmosphere of an office, then working from home might not be for you.
Fortunately, due to modern technology and social media, nowadays it is possible to have some sort of social interaction but of course it is not the same as face to face interaction.
Another form to meet people is to go to networking events. These can take place in actual venues or virtually.
If you have a week with not many networking events, or meetings then it is always a good idea to schedule a meet up with a family member or friend for lunch or a cup of coffee.
Working from home is not just working in your PJs at whatever time you please. It can be lonely and it is easy to become frustrated and unproductive. It takes hard work, motivation, dedication and perseverance to make it work. I hope the steps above will help you.
What is your experience of working from home?