5 tips for working effectively from home

This content is sponsored by ACCA.

As an increasing number of companies shut their doors to keep staff as safe as possible, many office-based employees are finding themselves joining the homeworking club.

It can take some adjustment, particularly if the regime is to last a prolonged or indefinite period of time. Here are some tips for staying focused.

1. Consider your setting

‘Think carefully about your surroundings when planning your home working space. For example, if you have a conference call scheduled for a day when you are working remotely, choose somewhere particularly quiet. Even though you may be working from home, you should still present a professional image to your clients and colleagues.’
Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK

‘If you have a spare room or study to use as a home office, keep anything work-related in there. Setting yourself up on the couch tends to blur the line between home and work.’
Jonathan Firth, managing director at Michael Page Finance & Consultancy

‘Find a space to work that you can call your own. Sharing the kitchen table or balancing documents on the sofa makes your efforts feel semi-permanent and can hamper productivity. Environments can have a dramatic impact on our output. Gather everything you need so it’s to hand and you don’t waste time setting up at the start of the day.’
Jez Rose, behaviour expert and author of Flip the Switch, which encourages readers to change their behaviour to improve personal effectiveness

2. Maintain a routine

‘Get out of bed, shower and eat your breakfast as you usually would prior to your commute, and be ready to start work by 9 am. There should be no difference in your working day, other than your location. Your manager will be looking for the same commitment and even improved productivity when you work from home.’
Phil Sheridan, Robert Half UK

‘Act as though you are going to the office – staying in your pyjamas won’t get you geared up for work.’
Jonathan Firth, Michael Page Finance & Consultancy

‘Your working schedule should be determined the evening before, so you don’t waste any of the working day.’
Jez Rose, behaviour expert

‘Make a specific list of everything that needs doing. If you know your day hour-by-hour, you are more likely to stay focused and achieve your self-recommended deadlines. Tick jobs off when you’ve completed them.’
Jonathan Firth, Michael Page Finance & Consultancy

3. Self-manage, but stay accountable

‘You must be quite clear about what is expected of you and how your home-working performance will be assessed. Has your manager laid down monitoring arrangements for the output of your work?’
Alan Price, chief executive officer at HR consultancy Croner

‘If you have clear parameters to work within, you’ll find it easier to be accountable for your own time management. And if you can prove you are easy to manage when working from home on an ad-hoc basis, further flexible working opportunities may arise.’
Phil Sheridan, Robert Half UK

‘Clear goals are one thing, but reminding yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing is also important. Be aware of not only your actions but of the consequences of your actions too. That’s especially important when you find yourself cleaning the house, emptying the dishwasher and watching Netflix when you should be working.’
Jez Rose, behaviour expert

‘The fastest way for your employer to know that you aren’t taking the opportunity to work from home seriously is if you start missing deadlines and the quality of your work suffers.’
Phil Sheridan, Robert Half UK

‘One of the hidden challenges with working remotely is that you relax more than you would do if you were at work. When you find yourself justifying why a piece of work can’t get done, summon up the drive to carry on working by changing your language. Replace “no, because…” with “yes, if…” and challenge yourself to make it happen.’
Jez Rose, behaviour expert

4. Keep lines of communication open

‘Working remotely means more autonomy, but you are still part of a team and should communicate with your manager and colleagues in the usual manner. If you go quiet and ‘disappear’ for the day, you will place pressure on your co-workers. Your business contacts should also be able to contact you when and how they usually would, as if you were physically in the office.’
Phil Sheridan, Robert Half UK

‘But do turn off any unnecessary notification tones. When your workflow is disturbed, it can take upwards of four minutes for you to return to an optimum productivity level.’
Jez Rose, behaviour expert

‘Check in with colleagues – remind yourself that you are at work, even if you are not at the office. Phoning to update your boss or colleagues will also make you feel more connected with what’s going on in the business.’
Jonathan Firth, Michael Page Finance & Consultancy

5. Remember your work-life balance

 ‘Give yourself time for lunch, for the benefit of your health and your work. Try and stay away from your computer at this time as well – go for a walk or run an errand.’
Jonathan Firth, Michael Page Finance & Consultancy

‘Define morning and afternoon breaks too. Make sure you have start and finish times for breaks and for projects you are working on.’
Jez Rose, behaviour expert

‘Working from home requires discipline, dedication and self-motivation. For some, it can be the key to finding a happy work-life balance and excelling at their job.’
Jonathan Firth, Michael Page Finance & Consultancy

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This content is sponsored by ACCA.

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants.

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