As we move into a time when most of us will be working from home, I thought it would be nice to share some of my thoughts on working remotely. Like any office, there’s ups and downs when working from your humble abode, but here are my top tips for a positive workday, in your own space.
This is just my way of doing things… It might be right, it might be wrong… But if you’re interested read on.
The joy of working from home is that you can do your best work at a time that suits you. For instance: I know that I need a clear head, chores done and my baby fast asleep to don my creative cap. I’ve always known this. My best creative work comes alive in the night time. On the other hand, my more commercial work (emails, sales etc) is best done with a fresh head, first thing in the morning. When you’re working from home it’s the quality of the work you produce, not the quantity. Find the time in the day that works best for you and work to your best potential.
Clothing and morning routine
I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve never slipped on the same tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt I had on the night before, stroll downstairs blurry-eyed and open the laptop. But, for me this is a major error. I want to start every day as I mean to carry on, so it’s a good idea to get ready as if I’m getting ready to go to the office. Shower, teeth, hair, aftershave and then I get dressed into some of my nicer clothes. I’m not saying shirt and tie and a pair of brogues, but just clothing I feel good in…
This is really going to depend on the space you can commit to, but for me, the important factors in a pro-active workspace are as follows:
I once worked in an office with no windows… and only lasted six months. I think sometimes we underestimate how important the outside world is to our working environment. We’re so tuned in to the tapping of the keyboard, the sound of new emails landing in the inbox and Zoom meetings that we forget about the outside world. Studies show that productivity can be raised by up to 40% when working with natural light in comparison to artificial light. Not only that, natural light saves energy and, if you’re feeling generous, you could even share that light with some friendly house plants.
This is your battle station, and it has to be right for you. When I started working from home I made it my mission to source a beautiful desk. I ended up buying a second-hand steel workstation on Ebay for £50 from a local mechanic. It was old, rusty and pretty oily, but I knew it had potential. After a few rounds of cleaning and polishing (thanks to some advice from my Mum who deals in antiques), it now sits in pride of place in the middle of the room. When you can, try and up-cycle, and save something going to landfill.
This has definitely my downfall. As a 6.2ft lad, posture has always been a challenge. When sitting in my office, my partner used to say that I looked like Golem from Lord Of The Rings (charming). I was hunching over my laptop for years and it did me some serious damage. I’m now recovering from a bad case of sciatica. But… all is not lost! I now have an elevated stand that sits on top of my desk which allows me to work standing up. It’s not for everyone, but I actually love to work standing up. I move around when I’m on conference calls and I’m more animated. In addition to positive verbal effects, non-verbal cues such as body language are a huge part of successful translation for me on the phone.
Essentials (tea, coffee, and biscuits)
If you’re working from home in the UK, I don’t need to tell you about the importance of decent coffee, tea and a good biscuit… This is the fuel for your fire.
Noise that suits you
When it comes to background noise, everyone is different. Some people like to work with the radio on, others can’t focus with more than the birds singing. You have to find what works best for you. But if you do work with music though, use the radio, Spotify or a playlist on iTunes - DON’T use Youtube. If you do use Youtube to play your tunes in the background, be prepared to lose your train of thought. I can guarantee that when you go to click the next song, you will see last weekend’s football highlights and that’s it! At the moment the football season is paused so personally I’m safe!
Since working from home full-time, I've struggled with lunches. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than capable of cooking a meal. But I get caught up with emails and before I know it it’s 3pm and lunch becomes an early dinner. Then I feel like I don’t have time to make decent lunch because it’s already 3pm and I need to get back to clients before they leave the office at 5pm, so I end up eating badly or skipping lunch altogether. All bad moves… A low nutrient lunch that spikes blood sugar is setting you up for a bad work afternoon, and not eating at all isn’t going to fuel that productive brain!
For me this is everything. Whether your family are living in the same house or you’re living on your own, it’s important to have smiles and familiar faces around you for inspiration. The walls of my office tell the story of my family, and my baby daughter’s little face drives me on to work harder. Then whenever I get a spare ten minutes, I make my way downstairs to put the kettle on and give her a cuddle. It’s always important to remember why you’re doing all this work in the first place.