Top 10 tips for working at home!

Here Ray Bell, CTO at inTec Business Solutions provides his top ten hints in order to work effectively and happily at home. We would love to hear your thoughts, so please comment on this post.

1. Location - Choose an area which is dedicated as your working space if possible. Or if not, choose a location/desk in a room that has minimal distractions and doesn't impact as much on the rest of household.

2. Comfort - as with an office desk, you should use a good quality chair and sturdy desk to maintain a good posture. Ideally, spend some time working standing up if you can. Working on a couch or lounge chair is not advised. Try to position your screen at eye level and at a distance that doesn't put unnecessary strain on your eyes. The area should be well lit.

3. Technology - if possible, your PC/laptop should be wired directly to your router using a suitable network cable. This is especially true if using a VOIP telephone system. A second screen for a laptop and/or a docking station with mouse/keyboard will allow you to set up your desk in a more flexible manner with maximum comfort. Bear in mind that if there is lots of home usage of your broadband line, there may be performance issues.

4. Back up plan - if you are especially reliant on technology, it may be worth having a spare working device and a back up internet connection i.e 4G router or tethered mobile device. Have contact numbers for IT Support, technology suppliers to hand in case you need help with any issues.

5. Routine - as much as possible, try and create a routine that is achievable and fits with your home environment. This should include start time, regular breaks and something to mark the end of the day i.e a daily task or some specific exercise. The structure of your day may be different to an office based day and this is perfectly normal as long as there is a routine.

6. Work/life balance - establish the best way to fit your role and work goals with your home life. E.g. As long as it works for the business/employer, a home worker may prefer to spend some time with their young family during the afternoon/early evening and do some work in the evening. Set out and agree these ground rules with your family.

7. Contact with colleagues - it is important to keep in touch with colleagues regularly through video calls whether that be in team meetings or just to catch up socially as you would if sat beside each other in the office. Regular team meetings are especially important if you are a team leader or manager.

8. Exercise - take your breaks in full and ensure you include some form of exercise in or outside the home if appropriate to do so. This is doubly important if you are working from home for a prolonged period.

9. Personal communication - rather than email or send chat messages, pick up the phone or arrange a video call whether that be with colleagues or a customer. Not only is it often a better way to communicate anyway but it gives everyone that bit of person to person contact they may be greatly missing. Take the opportunity to ask how people are, particularly if they are isolated from others.

10. Stay positive - home working brings challenges, especially over a prolonged period. Not every day will go to plan and you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. It's better to implement a plan to catch up the next day than worry about what has already gone. Try to focus on the positives, of which there will be many. Often people have more contact with peers and management in times of lockdown and it is a great time to learn a new way of working.

Whilst these tips are relevant for any period of home working, they are especially important during a period of lock down. The best advice in the current climate is generally to exaggerate your good practice activities such as speaking more regularly to customers/colleagues, take proper and purposeful breaks, do extra exercise, ask for better home working equipment if you don't have it. And as mentioned, stay positive.

Your positivity may be just what the person on the other end of the phone needs right now and they will be there to pick you up when you need it too.

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