Working from home - Your questions answered!

Working from home - Your questions answered!

With so many of us now forced to work from home, we took a look at some of the challenges we might face. We spoke to our copywriter, who spends a vast amount of time working from home and based on her experience, here are some of the answers to the most common queries.

Do I need a home-office?

This is the ideal situation but in reality, is not practical or possible for everyone. If you do have a spare room that can easily convert to an office, then try to kit it out as a true work environment. A proper desk, decent office chair, monitor screen and headset are a great start. All of these will help you feel comfortable whilst working. It also creates a solid divide between home and work.

If you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, then you may have to resort to your dining room or kitchen table. The most important thing here is to be comfortable and it’s well worth investing in a headset and if your chairs aren’t that comfy, use a cushion or back support. Headsets are particularly good if you take lots of calls and will help prevent that
horribly sore neck you get from resting the phone between your ear and shoulder. A footrest is another great piece of kit and can take the pressure off your back while working. My advice here is that small investments will save you a lot of aches and pains. Comfort is key and taking regular breaks from your workspace will help. More on this later.

I hate the silence. Help!

We all work in different ways, for me as a copywriter, it’s great not having the distractions of a phone constantly ringing, colleagues chatting or people popping in and out. That said, I can’t work in silence and tend to have the radio on, just for a little background noise. Some freelancers I know listen to chilled music or something that really fires them up. Others prefer total silence so they can focus. The key here is to finding what works for you. You might want to try different techniques until you find your groove (or not)

How can I stay in touch with my team?

If you’re used to being in a busy office and keeping in touch with your team is essential, there are lots of online tools that might come in useful. Use Zoom, Loom, Adobe Connect or even WhatsApp video to see your colleagues and have meetings. Sharing work updates can be made easier too with great tools like Slack, Trello and Google Hangouts. These can prevent inbox overloads and ridiculously long email chains (you know the ones where everyone hits reply to all).

Can I wear my PJ’s?

The Cyberjammies answer to this is always yes and in fact it’s encouraged. You may want to think
about whether you’ll need to join a video conference though. Seriously, this does depend on the person. Some people feel that to work they need to be dressed for the office. These days though, many offices are much more casual than in the past, so you may just end up in similar clothes. Working from home on a regular basis for me, meant wearing something that was comfy but casual. I have worked in my PJ’s but usually when I was starting work before the rest of the house woke up. I'd usually change into something else, once everyone else was up and always got dressed for the school run.

I get easily distracted

There are so many distractions at home. Household jobs that are just staring at you (that overflowing
laundry basket won’t wash itself) and there’s also the internet. We need to be connected but checking your social feeds can be addictive. Unless you need to use them for work, restrict social media for break times and if you really can’t help yourself, set a limit on your phone. These settings aren’t just for kids! Likewise, if you have any chores that need doing at home, note
them down on a list and tackle them during a break. Some people can work with the TV on in the background and if you’re one of them, that’s great. Personally, I find it far too distracting and it’s easy to get drawn into whatever they’re talking about. When I'm working at home, I never switch the TV but if you do have to, just have a fixed time to switch it off.

It’s a good idea too to try and outline what you want to achieve each day by making a list before you start. Don’t be over ambitious, as there will always be the odd phone call or random request it's easy to be optimistic about what you can achieve. Having a list of the key tasks you want to get down (and put it somewhere where you can see it all day) is a good way to focus and stay on task It also feels good as you tick these things off and have competed them all by the end of the day.

I get a bit carried away at home and don’t know when to stop

This is easily done and I’m definitely guilty of this. You fall in to a trap of just ticking off one more thing on that to do list, over and over again. With your laptop in easy reach, you may also find yourself checking your emails, after you’ve finished for the day. Has that reply to your important email come in? Have I had any new work enquiries? My advice is to set a finish time and stick to it. When that time comes, those luckily enough to have a home office should turn everything off and close the door. If you’re working in your living space, get a box, crate or bag to put everything in and when you finish, pack up and put it away.
During the during day, make time for regular breaks. Stretch your legs and do something different. Make sure this is time spent away from your laptop. Getting out in the fresh air is a great way to refresh yourself. If the weather’s good, make a cuppa and take it into the garden or onto a balcony. At lunchtime, go for a walk, even if it’s just around the block and just switch off for a short while. On rainy days, you could try sitting in another room and reading the paper or you could knock a few of those household jobs off your list. Again, switching on the TV was never a good idea for me as turning it off again was too difficult. Eating your lunch away from your desk is also a good idea. It really won’t count as a proper break and from experience you need. You can actually find renewed energy and fresh motivation, just by spending 20-30 minutes doing something else.

The fridge is calling me

This is one of the most dangerous working at home traps you can fall into. You have the full array of your fridge and kitchen cupboards at your disposal. Avoiding this comes down to mindset and planning. Decide what you’re going to have before you start your day and prep it if you can. you could try using an app like my Fitness Pal if you really want to avoid munching your way through a whole pack of biscuits. It’s really helpful to have an idea of what you’ve been eating, even if you’re not trying to lose weight. If you take a packed lunch to work, make one for home too. Try to keep snacks for one of your breaks and combine it with a short walk or a few stretches. It might limit the calorie damage.

I don’t think I’m going to like working from home

It’s true that working from home can feel lonely and isolating and you miss social interaction. There have  been days when I feel like the only adult conversation, I have is with the school mums and I'm not convinced
this counts! Use the networking tools and if you need to just have a chat use one of your breaks to call  family or friends. You could Skype or FaceTime them to feel like you’ve actually seen another human.

On the upside, working at home can be really productive. It can allow you to focus and really get stuff done. It’s a good time to research, plan and think too. The office phone isn’t ringing, there's nobody chatting about stuff you might not be interested in and people don’t just pop in to ask a question You never know, you may just get to like it and build it in to your regular working week.