In my last post, I talked about how sometimes I need to get away from the office for the sake of productivity and creativity. This is all well and good, but doesn’t come without risk. In previous jobs, colleagues have said to me ‘oh, so you’re “working from home” tomorrow?’ In that slightly sarcastic/accusing tone.
Working from home presents a minefield of potential distractions, and if you want to make the best of home-working, then it’s not only important to be productive, but to be seen to get things done.
Here are a few considerations to help you get the best experience and results from working at home:
The room and furniture – working at the coffee table in the dining room is fine for an hour or two, but for a sustained and productive home-working experience, I’d recommend having a room that is a dedicated study/home office, and investing in a decent desk and office style chair.
Kit – standard stuff really but think portable in case you need a change of scene (I occasionally use a certain well-known coffee chain as my virtual office – don’t tell Peter). So laptop (I prefer a decent screen size), smartphone, tablet (optional). I would also recommend investing in a good headset, I use Plantronics Voyager Pro as I can use this for both my laptop and mobile.
Noise – most of us don’t need complete silence to work, but we do need to minimise distractions. My home-office is at the back of the house so I can’t hear the bins being emptied or roadwork in the street. T.V. OFF: I can’t stress this enough – it’s not only a distraction, but if the boss or a client calls, it’s highly unprofessional to sound like you’re enjoying brunch with Jeremy Kile. I do need some background sounds, and for me this is either radio news, or some trip hop at a fairly low volume (tip – you don’t have to share my taste in music).
Broadband – it’s really important to have a good broadband connection. When I’m working at home, this fuels almost everything I do – the files I’m sharing via drop box, my phone calls, conference calls, delivering presentations remotely, and even the music that I’m listening to. My connection is Gradwell Office Priority Plus and this is more than adequate for me to work at home effectively.
Communication tools – you probably won’t be surprised to hear me say VoIP, but really – the Gradwell VoIP system means I can answer the office phone at home, don’t have to give suppliers my precious mobile number, I can pop out and still be in touch, and as I mentioned in my last post, I can tune-out when I need to without fear of missing anything.
I’d also recommend using an instant messaging platform for any quick questions, as well as water cooler chit chat, its less cumbersome and time consuming than using email for every interaction.
Some of this might seem like learning to suck eggs, but I think that all of this is worth thinking through properly. Home working can present big benefits to your company and to you as an individual (on days when I work from home, I actually get to see my kids awake), but only if we get it right – and we probably won’t get it right from the sofa.