How to work from home successfully (& stylishly 😉 ) may be completely new to you, as in your place of work has never required you to do it before. Well over the next few weeks nearly a fifth or more of our UK population may have to do this; and whilst you might not actually be ill with the Coronavirus or COVID-19, as it’s so affectionally known as now, you’ll want to keep your professional game high through these turbulent months.
Your managers and senior managers will really be dependent on having to trust their workforce to do the right thing and keep business going. So with my 20+ years of ‘working from home’ for either the odd day a week or as I do now both for corporate and my blogger world; I want to share with you my tips and learnings on making sure you get the best from your day and keep your career game at it’s highest level.
Starting with the popular saying…
Get Up, Dress Up & Show Up
The days you work from home, I believe are normal working days, so get up at your usual time, get fully dressed (which I will come on to a bit more later) and make sure you a fully ready to go ‘live’ on your systems at a typical time you would be in your normal working day.
Be business ready when you are supposed to be. This will get you off to a good start and not be fumbling around 10 minutes before you should be starting, by fiddling with cables, charging phones etc. But also, make sure you plan to finish at the right time at the end of your day – I do this by either promising the dog a walk or I go visit someone for a cuppa.
Create a suitable working space
You are going to be doing your own ‘9-5’ in a place in your home that’s not your typical work chair with all it’s fancy ergonomics – in fact soon after I started my field role I realised just how important it was to make sure your working space at home is supportive of your back, your neck and most importantly your wrists. You will be working for hours in a new environment that has not been set up for this type of work. So think about the following when you set up your area:
Do you want to be near a window? The light will change throughout the day, this will impact your screen and possibly you may get hot if the sun is shining on you. I’ve found sitting with the window either to my left or right is the best position and I only sit near a window that has a blind, so I can adjust the light throughout the day.
Think about your chair – unless you already have a home office all set up, you might have to use a dining room chair – how does that feel after you have sat on it for some time? I recommend trying a few different chairs in your house or potentially swap throughout your day to give your back and bottom a little break from a non-typical desk chair
Charging connection points – my desk at corporate work is set up that I don’t have to think about charging at all – it does it all for me. My home office I have so many connection points, because my hubby designed it that way when we renovated the room. So before you truly decide on a space, check you are close enough to your electricity points or you can temporarily set up extension cables during your working time.
Avoid Home Distractions
This is the most hardest challenge you will face whilst working from home. Some things are obviously fine and it’s a treat to be able to do them and there are some that perhaps you may need to stop and think – should I really be doing this?
It’s okay to put your washing machine on! Well only if it’s not near to where you are actually working and will not be loud if you are on a business call or Skype videoing call.
It’s okay to walk your dog – I felt this was a little taboo when I first started to work from home and would pay for dog walkers to come and walk Alfonso – and then on my lunch break I wanted fresh air and would go for a walk – do you see the madness?!
Planning your work to be as productive as you can, also requires you to take adequate breaks. Long gone are the days when I first started working from home and I felt I had to park my bottom for the whole duration and I used to feel like I had to send an email if I wanted to pop to the loo by informing the whole team I would be offline for 3 minutes! Plan your breaks because they will make you more focus on getting tasks completed before you stop to take a break.
Whilst on a break… do what the hell you like!
Having the telly on whilst you are working – Ask yourself honestly will this keep you focused on your task or will it be distracting? I realise some people need the background noise but I for one would end up stopping to listen to that ‘breaking news’ that’s repeated every ½ hour! It’s up to you, but you don’t really want to be answering that business call with ‘Let me just turn down the telly…”
Being on Social Media apps – as tempting as it is each day to see how many likes you got on your #ootd post – Social Media is a distraction. Unless there is a need to be on there for your business, it can be the biggest and most unproductive part of your day – take it from a Blogger, I know! Save it for your breaks…
The new world of communication (let’s get stylish!)
With video communication that enables the whole team globally to be around one meeting table even though you are all sitting at home – no one wants to see your pjs or your scruffy hair. Coming back to my very first point of getting dressed – really think about your day ahead when you are.
If your whole day is simply going to be writing on your laptop with no phone calls or video conferences and no chance of having to pop out to meet someone in person – then athleisure wear is absolutely fine. Athleisure is your casual tracksuit bottoms and casual tops.
But if your day is full force with video conference, business calls and you need a strong ‘project leader’ head on – I would say, dress for the part. The more you are dressed for business, the more productive I feel you will be – well I certainly know that this works for me.
I often now have 1-2-1 chats over Facebook video with people sitting in different countries all over the world. I make sure that whilst I’m at my home desk my top is bright and cheery, I have a colourful lipstick on and I may even up my game on jewellery.
People make opinions about what you look like all the time… and how you come across on video conferencing is just as important as if you were in the same room. I personally avoid lots of bangles that clash together as it can be a real distraction for the person at the other end.
Be stylish, be professional and keep your career game high.
All photos of Lizzi Richardson in this post have been taken by Sarah Rider Photography