Working from home – the good, the bad and the even better!

I love working from home, but it’s not for everyone.

Yes, there are some bits I find very difficult.

The benefits however far outweigh the challenges, at least for me.

40 degree cycle

I’ve never done so much washing in my life.  The kids wardrobes are 99% stocked at all times.

The first key tip is to know your limits when it comes to effective concentration.

I discovered mine by accident when as part of my morning routine I put a 40 degree wash on.

An hour and forty minutes flew by and as soon as those never ending beeps went off I knew I was ready for a break.  It’s like the dinner bell for a school kid.

This has become my norm and weirdly I’m now quite fond of my allies, the washing machine.

Try to find your own version of my washing machine.  It will help you focus in powerful bursts, give you a mental release and keep your significant other pleased.

Win Win Win.

If you can concentrate for half an hour, then find a task that can run for half an hour.  We’re all different.

Family and working from home

Working from home has given me the opportunity to spend at least 2 extra hours with my family per day.  No amount of extra money can afford me this.

Walking the kids to school is fantastic.  The way down is very different to the way back.  Down gives me the chance to spend some quality time with my girls and get some fresh air in the lungs.  The way back offers me time to think about my tasks for the day.

When I look back at those two hour commutes, stuck in traffic, miserable and frustrated it makes me appreciate the freedom even more.

It seems odd to me that in this era of hyper connectivity we still insist on regressing to the traditions of old.  Granted, some tasks and professions can’t be performed away from the office, but many can.

If you own a business and want to increase team morale without spending a penny, try to consider the positive impact of allowing your team to spend time working from home.

Embrace and don’t feel guilty

If you’ve read this far you might think I’m blowing my own trumpet, talking about how enjoyable my work day is.  You’d be right.  I don’t apologise for it.

Neither do I apologise for talking the dog for a walk in work time; having half an hour in the garden when it’s roasting outside; mowing the lawn; making a brew; going for a run or any of the other simple pleasures working from home can provide.

The thing is, they all give me head space to think, reflect and re-assess my workplace behaviours and action.  I feel no guilt or apologise for any of it because these perks make me productive.

Try to implement some of the things you love into your work day.  When working from home you could try different activities to give you brain the much needed rest it craves.

Learn to embrace your downtime.

For the science part take a look at this article from Psychology today.

Build your perfect space

Whether you have a dedicated office or a re-purpose a space in your home, getting the space right is key.

This is your earning environment and it’s your home and it pays to find the right balance.

Productivity should be your focus so try to make sure you have everything you need at arms length, where possible.  The right equipment, connectivity, software and working conditions are important.

Having two young daughters there also has to be a sense of privacy.  In my early days I got this wrong.  The amount of notebooks and work documents sporting crayon pictures of the family was impressive.  I fondly recall a client meeting where I turned the page in my notebook to find a picture of an upside down cat and something that resembled a rabbit.

Take a look at this article for more information on creating a productive space.

The simple stuff

Working from home does require routine.  These simple behaviours can help you get in the zone;

  • Shower every morning
  • Get dressed for work
  • Embrace the fresh air
  • Learn to switch off at the end of the day

Challenges

Working from home can be bloody lonely.

At the start of the month I create an events calendar.  This is where I document all the training and networking events I’m going to attend that month.

I make sure I’m out the office at least once a day, either at meetings, training courses, networking events or out for coffee with contacts.

Most of all it provides me with human interaction, essential in keeping my mental well-being satisfied.

Not only that but I’m not networking more than ever and jumping at the chance to develop my skills with training.

For a list of training courses and events you can check out your local chamber of commerce.

What Now?

If you’ve made it this far I’d like to thank you for your precious time.

Finding a better work life balance has had an amazing effect on my family, on me personally and on the quality of the work I produce.

If you’d like to know more about how to create a work from home policy as part of your HR strategy then we’d love to talk further.  Click here and leave your details and we’ll be in touch very shortly.

 

Many thanks

Ben Kistell, Director of Fresh Thinking