23rd May 2019
Companies, as a whole, are becoming more and more advocative of the work-life balance principle. After all, happy workers are loyal and productive workers.
One of the most effective ways an employer can promote and maintain a healthy work-life balance for their staff is to adopt a working from home policy – and many do. However, those who get to work from home only really account for 13.7% of the UK working population.
Fun fact! Did you know that the UK is estimated to lose £300 billion by 2030 from time lost to traffic delays, alone.
Working from home has many benefits in addition to nurturing the well being of employees. It eliminates these kinds of financial losses and can help to curb other issues such as staff being unable to find emergency childcare or needing to remain home for workmen without the need for management to arrange cover for their absence.
Why Don’t More Companies Advocate Working from Home?
With countless benefits to be gained from such a simple initiative, it’s hard to understand why there aren’t more companies fostering this concept.
There are plenty of collaborative software tools, online meeting platforms and cloud storages available to allow employees to remain able to access everything they need in order to perform their duties, so the only logical explanation for employers choosing not to allow staff to work from home is trust, or lack thereof.
Whether the fear is justified or not, companies are concerned about the level of effort their staff will put in if they aren’t physically in the office.
Now, trust and respect go hand in hand. You need to earn your staff’s respect if you’re ever going to stand a chance of feeling as though you can trust them to work from home. Here’s the clincher – you’re going to need to take a leap of faith. You want to trust in your staff to do their work if they’re at home and they need to respect you to give you a reason to trust them, therefore, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and let them try working from home to get that ball rolling. Make it a trial period and see how you get on. If it doesn’t work, at least you’ve tried; but your staff need to see you putting your belief in them.
How to get the Most out of a Working from Home Arrangement
Whether you’re an HR manager preparing guidelines for staff on how to work from home effectively, or you want to prove to your boss that you can still be productive despite being elsewhere, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Make a To-Do List
It’s so easy to waste time trying to find something productive to do if you haven’t made a note of the things you need to do and how to prioritise them. Writing a to-do list helps to keep yourself accountable and being organised is crucial if you’re to avoid spending the day wandering around the house or surfing the internet.
Everyone is naturally gifted with the ability to read an email while listening to a conference call, right? Wrong. While we all think that we’re good multitaskers, the fact is that dividing your attention just means that neither task is getting your full concentration or best efforts. It’s much more productive to focus on one thing at a time and cross it off as you go.
If you have a room set up as an office at home, you might have this doubled as a gym or a craft room. If you don’t have an office, the chances are that you do your work from your sofa – where the TV lives. Wherever you work when you’re at home, it’s easy to get distracted by other things you can get done around the house. Try your best to put these things out of your mind while in work mode to save you from procrastinating.
Stick to a Schedule
Define your working hours. If your job allows you to and you prefer starting and finishing earlier (or vice versa) then do so, but make sure you know what hours you’ll be working, let your employer know and stick to it. This will also help you with the next point.
Speaking of distractions, be firm with family and friends who know you’re working from home. You’ll need to be firm with yourself as well. People who have time on their hands for a social visit may overlook the fact that you have work to do and that you can’t just take a break whenever you want to. If you’re invited out or asked if someone can pop in for a cuppa, stay strong and say ‘no’.
Create an Office Space
The last thing you want is for the space that you usually use to relax and unwind to feel less like somewhere for you to detach yourself from your professional responsibilities as a result of using it to do your work. If you have a spare bedroom that has enough space for a desk and chair, set yourself up with a little office. Otherwise, set up a corner in your living room or at your dining table. This way, you will at least be able to distinguish between your work and living spaces.
Keep Everything Accessible
Additionally, to enhance productivity, you may want to consider arranging all the equipment you’ll need throughout the day so that it’s all in one place and you know where to find it. Put the things that you use most closest to your desk like your printer, notepad and pens.
Take Regular Breaks
You should do this at work anyway, but when working from home it’s even more important to take breaks from your work. You’ll find that without the added distractions of phones ringing and idle workplace chit chat, you’re in danger of getting sucked into your work for hours on end. Even if it’s just to get a drink or to put the washing on, a change of scenery can really improve your concentration.
Schedule Appointments Efficiently
If you’re working at home to accommodate an appointment or personal commitment, try to organise it for the beginning or end of the day, where you can. It’s not great if you have just fallen into your stride when you have to stop to attend your appointment and then you’re left trying to refocus when you get back to it.
Check in at Work
Finally, it is good to be aware that if you’re working remotely, you won’t be as visible. It’s important that colleagues and bosses realise you’re still part of the team so check in with the office a couple of times a day, even scheduling meetings via video or conference call so to avoid lowering your profile in the workplace. This will also help to maintain the trust your employer has in you to actually work from home in the first place, so try to be as virtually present as possible.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.