Working From Home

We asked Mandy Fitzmaurice from Purple HR what tips and advice she might have for the many employees experiencing working from home for the first time.


10 Tips for Homeworking 

1. Work regular hours 

Try to start your day at a set time, whether it’s 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. Get into work mode during working hours. 

2. Stay in touch with co-workers 

There is such a thing as the “hive mind.” You do miss out on internal communications by working remotely. That means you have to make an effort to stay in touch. 

Even under normal circumstances, no one sends you a memo on “Key Office Gossip for March 17, 2020.” Not every formal decision gets put into writing and then sent by email to you. In the current situation, when your office has suddenly gone virtual, be sure check in with your colleagues frequently. Also, make sure your manager knows what you’re doing and when. There are plenty of platforms that provide free conference call services. 

3. Make a plan 

Working from home involves some self-motivation and discipline. Every Monday make a list of projects or tasks you’ll be working on. Then, each day make a mental list of actions for that day, eg calls to make, files to finish off etc. 

4. Be realistic, especially now 

Break big projects down into bite sized chunks so that starting and working on them seems less daunting. If something’s going to take a week or a month, try and focus on only what needs to get done today. 

Depending on how much you collaborate, you’re likely going to be thrown off your game because your co-workers are adjusting also. People need to be realistic that a lot of colleagues will have to deal with children as well. Your pace of work at the end of the month will likely be different than it is now. 

5. Take a break 

It’s good to get up and walk around, especially in the afternoon. But don’t take lots and lots of breaks throughout the day. Internet browsing is one thing, turning on the TV is something else entirely. Stay in a work rhythm and then get out of it occasionally. If you have a dog, the walk will provide a break and a chance to leave the confines of your house (within the strict social distancing guidelines in place). 

6. Skip the chores 

It’s easy to throw in a load of laundry, but don’t try to vacuum or multitask with housework too much. Your work and home lives are about to get hopelessly tangled, so try to keep them separate and stay on task. Errands can be a distraction, too, but for the most part those won’t be happening for a while. At the moment, disinfecting is a good idea anytime. 

7. Oh, look the kids are at home too! 

Not just working from home but also having children home from school is challenging. Still, the usual advice probably holds. When you’re with your children, be with them, playing or colouring or sharing other activities. When you’re working, ask your kids to be patient. Many people will be easing household rules regarding screen time. 

If you hope to be productive, don’t let them bug you every five minutes. How successful you’ll be will vary, depending on their age. But if you normally work in an office, you already have strategies for dealing with pesky people who try to interrupt you. 

8. Keep in touch 

Keep in touch with friends and colleagues, send a note or a news link to a friend once a day or so. People are not great about responding, but it’s nice to think of your friends once a day. This helps at normal times with feeling isolated. It’s going to be crucial in the days ahead. 

9. Every day’s a Mufty Day 

The stereotype about remote workers is that we sit around in pyjamas all day. That doesn’t happen. There doesn’t seem to be much point in putting on the type of clothes that have to be dry cleaned, but it helps psychologically if you make some effort, albeit keep it casual. 

If it helps you get into ‘work mode’ to dress like you’re going to the office, go for it, but you’ll probably not want to keep this up too long. The point of dressing professionally is to show respect to the people you encounter, but if you’re not encountering anyone, why bother? Video meetings are different. 

10. Work hard, then switch off 

Most people that work from home, work more than they did at the office. There are fewer interruptions. It’s also harder to “leave it at the office” when your computer is right there. You are spared the commute, but you also don’t have that transition from work to home. It’s easy to keep going, writing just one more email or completing one more task you just remembered. 

Learn to shut it off. If you started at a regular time, end at a regular time. If you need to keep working, that’s fine, but once you stop, try to be done. Treat it like caffeine, something you stop at some point in the day. Some people with kids will end up working most productively after dinner, but otherwise try not to work or check email in the evening. Write down the things you know you’ll need to take care of the next day and then trust the piece of paper or your electronic notes to remember them, so you don’t turn them over your head. 

And finally, in the words of Sir Winston Churchill.. 

“It is no use saying ‘we are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” 

Keep safe everyone, be kind to each other and above all be sensible. 

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