Lots of people are about to start working from home for probably the first time in their professional lives. As someone who has been doing it for the best part of half a decade, I thought it might help if I put down some of the stuff I have learned through experience. So I give you my Top Five Tips for Working From Home.
There is one massive perk to working from home - your daily commute just changed to however long it takes to walk from your kitchen, cup of tea and slice of toast in hand, to the area you have set up as "work". That's pretty great, and the novelty never wears off. Morning frost be damned, no more iced up windscreens will stop you!
The main issue is said "work" area. While not everyone is blessed with a spare room, it is absolutely vital that you can devote an area out of the way from where you usually live and relax. Unless you're operating in a very niche profession, do not under ANY circumstances set up your work area in your bedroom. At the end of the day you'll want to be able to switch off, disconnect from work and go to sleep, which you can't do if you have spent the entire day working in your bedroom.
Ideally you want a room you never really use. The spare room with all the junk is perfect. Failing that, the dining table (if you've got an empty house - more on that later) or the corner of the living room. But never, ever, ever use your bedroom. Sit in the hall if that is the only other option.
2. Time & Rest
Carry on working 9 - 5. When I first started working for myself from home, I sat down and got to work at 8 (when I would have left for work before) and usually didn't really stop until my wife got home after 6. It's easy to over do it when the normal routines are gone. Conversely, don't take the piss.
Don't fall into the trap of "It's 9:55, I should probably get in the shower". Get up, get dressed and get ready to work for 9. You can have a lay in, sure - no point getting up at 7 if you don't need the 45 minute commute any more - but make sure you're in "work mode" at work time.
Take tea breaks. Get up and move about. Have a lunch break. Without the distraction of a pretty coworker walking past, or Pam from HR coming over to tell you off for looking at your pretty coworkers, or having a chat about last night's Coronation Street you'll be amazed how easy it is to sit down and not stand up again for 6 hours. It's bad for your body, your mind and everything else.
Be aware that your home is filled with things you enjoy. It might be that book you have been wanting to read for ages, binge watching The Office on Amazon Prime or it could be the kids playing in the next room (trust me, as soon as they know you're only in the next room they'll be trying to distract you constantly!) There are a million reasons to not work if you look for them, so make sure you focus on the reasons TO work.
Businesses around the world are going to fail in the next few months. It'll be a mixture of luck, hard work and planning which keeps the fortunate ones going - so make sure you do everything you can to help your business have a future beyond this virus.
If you don't get dressed, you won't work. Maybe go a bit wild and forgo the three piece suit and tie, but ensure you have all of the usual body parts covered in a fashion you would deem acceptable for nipping to the shops in. Again, the only exception to this would be if you have one of those niche jobs mentioned earlier.
It's unlikely that this new perk will last forever. Eventually you will have to get up at 7 again, drive for an hour, work from your cubicle, trying to dodge Pam all day. So for now, you get to work in an environment you spend your spare time making just to your taste. Take the opportunity to work from the garden if it's sunny. Spend your lunch break playing with the kids, make the most of being able to have a family dinner at 5:30 without having to rush home.
I absolutely adore working from home, I had to return to working like a muggle in a "proper office" for a few months a year ago and hated every second of it. The freedom of managing your own time is insane, so make sure you savour it.
Just make sure you have a great time and don't be a dick.