Sarah Sparshott, Senior Tax Manager and Maria Bailey, Marketing Director have put together their top 10 tips for working from home. The useful tips are based on their own experiences of working from home, a new concept for many of us but for now is the new ‘norm’. Read their top tips below:
We thought it might be helpful to share our experiences of working from home. It’s a new concept for many of us, but one which for the short term at least, is to become the new ‘norm’. We acknowledge that the current situation is very unusual. However, the fundamentals for home working remain the same. So, as we all settle into our new routines at home, here are our ‘top tips’ for successful home working.
We are a team
To start with, and a point to remind ourselves of, whether we’re at a meeting, working in one of our four offices, working at a client’s premises or sat at a desk at home – we are always part of the Mercer & Hole team.
Where to work from
To begin with, we all need to choose somewhere at home to work from and, most importantly of all, work out how to create and maintain boundaries between our work lives and our home lives.
Your hours of work
It might help to create a morning routine that ends with you starting work – even something as simple as a cup of coffee or getting dressed can ‘set the scene’ and transition you into work mode. Similarly, try and create a habit that signals the end of your working day as well, otherwise there’s a tendency to never really ‘switch off’.
Write a ‘to do’ list
When you’re working on your own, a list really helps you to keep track of things and focus on the tasks in hand. Every morning, review your priorities for the day and try to stick to your task list.
This requires a lot of self-discipline when you’re working remotely. On the plus side, there are far less interruptions and hopefully some proper peace and quiet to give your head some space to think. Take advantage of this for now and hopefully you’ll soon be back in a busy office!
Equipment & Workspace
In an ideal world, have a dedicated ‘office space’, even if it’s just one end of your kitchen table! At the moment lots of us are having to share our ‘workspace’ with family members, which might be challenging. Introduce a rota if you need to. Try not to work in your lounge or bedroom – these are spaces in which you need to feel relaxed, and probably don’t want associated with work!
Do make sure that you’re set up with all the right technology and equipment (our IT and facilities teams are doing a fantastic job!). There’s nothing more frustrating than having to break off from what you’re doing to go on the hunt for staples, paper etc.
If you need to set-up on the kitchen table or in the lounge – please put your notes and work aside in the evening. Get your home back; mentally that should help with being able to relax and enjoy your evenings.
Keeping in touch and ‘checking in’ with your colleagues and your immediate team is crucial when working remotely.
Make use of TEAMS etc and allow yourself a little bit of time each day to just chat, just as you would if you were in the office or at the pub after work. Virtual meetings are the way of the world at the moment – make sure you have them!
When working remotely you almost need to overcommunicate – make sure everyone that needs to know knows what you’re working on and when you’re available.
Take regular breaks, especially a proper ‘lunch break’. You may need to set a timer to remind yourself to do this but it really is important. Ideally, and we appreciate this may not be possible in the current climate, leave your home for a short while. At the very least, take time to breathe in some fresh air.
We all like a chat and a cup of tea – so call someone simply to ask them how they are – that’s what you would do if you saw them in the office kitchen, on a training day or at a drinks social. It can make a huge difference to someone’s day knowing that you took the time to ask how they were and listened to their reply.
Whether you do Cosmic Yoga with the kids on YouTube, go for a run with your flatmate or a walk with the dog, please do try to take some form of exercise every day. Perhaps share with your teammates what you have been up to, which new Facebook live video you have seen, what home-made circuits you have created. It might be a different way to start the team meeting – let’s be honest, in the office, most meetings begin with a chat about the quality of the biscuits!.
Please don’t feel guilty for missing a call or for not immediately replying to an email. For some reason we tend to feel more sense of urgency when working from home. Be kind to yourself.
And finally, but by no means least, you may see your email folder getting busier than usual. Without realising it, you can get caught in a circular email debate – please pick up the phone or call on TEAMS. It’s never as bad as it seems when we speak to someone.
For many, our best days are when we have lots of meetings, lots of social interaction, discuss some great ideas and leave the office on a high. It can be harder to create that feeling when you’re working at home, but TEAMS has transformed what it means to work remotely – just remember to brush your hair before that video call!
As we said at the start, this is a new concept to many of us, but you will develop your own routines over the coming days and weeks. Stay positive, stay well, be as disciplined as you can be, work hard and stay in touch with your colleagues and friends.
Sarah and Maria