Mark Bridge writes:
So you’re stuck at home because the snow’s made your journey to work too hazardous? Or perhaps you just needed a little peace and quiet to finish an important project?
Well, technology can certainly make your life easier – but how can you make the best of it? Here are my top ten tips… all gathered from personal experience. So switch on your BlackBerry, connect to your VPN and let’s do some telecommuting.
1. Set a timer
Home can be distracting. Suddenly, all those domestic chores you’ve been putting off – from painting the skirting to doing the washing up – seem rather more appealing than a PowerPoint presentation. Sitting down with your kitchen timer and working for 45 minutes before getting up and walking to the imaginary photocopier or making a cup of tea can make you surprisingly productive. And on the subject of the imaginary photocopier…
2. Don’t just sit there
When you’re at work, you don’t usually spend all day sitting at your desk. There are meetings, there are stairs, there’s that photocopier – okay, it’s not quite the same as having a personal trainer but at least you don’t seize up. So make sure you stretch your legs occasionally. Whilst on the subject of sitting…
3. Get the right kit
The desk and chair from your office are designed for work. Your kitchen table probably isn’t. Watch your posture and invest in some office furniture if you’re going to be doing this for any length of time. It’s about comfort, not appearances – although…
4. Dress for success
If you usually work in a shirt and tie, you may not want to do the same at home… but wearing ‘proper clothes’ is likely to make a positive difference to the way you feel. It’s hard to take work seriously if you’re wearing shorts and a novelty t-shirt.
5. Stay in touch
Make sure you don’t ignore your colleagues. They may not be in the same building as you but you’re all still part of the same team. Call them, instant message them, teleconference them, videoconference them, send them a text. Whatever suits you (and them). But, on the other hand, it’s also important to…
6. Don’t stay in touch too much
The internet can be a beguiling creature, especially when no-one’s looking over your shoulder. Sometimes it’s best to switch off your broadband connection for a bit. No email. No Twitter. No RSS. No web. And no distractions.
7. Take care of business
Remember – this is work. You’re being paid for it. So take it seriously. If you’re using your own computer, you may want to acquire an external hard drive to keep your work separate. Or keep your files online in the ‘cloud’. It’s certainly worth asking for advice from your organisation’s IT department. After all, you wouldn’t want to lose anything, would you?
8. Don’t mix business with pleasure
Keeping one eye on your children and the other on work means compromise. You can probably get away with it occasionally but it’s not a permanent solution. In fact, if there’s anyone else in the house, you need to ask them to leave you alone!
9. Get into the habit of working
You have a routine at work. Perhaps you grab a coffee before you sit down at your desk. Perhaps you don’t have breakfast until you’ve checked your email. You also need a routine when you’re working at home. Ditching the novelty t-shirt is a good start. Picking a time to formally ‘arrive at work’ is another. Make sure you pick a finishing time as well. Plan your day – and if necessary, plan when you’ll do essential domestic jobs.
10. Enjoy it!
Have some fun. Go for a lunchtime walk. Pop out for coffee. Start early and finish early… or start late and finish late. You can probably bend a few rules… as long as you get the work done.