10 DOs and DON’Ts of working from home

When it comes to working remotely, every job is different, but there are some key strategies that can help anyone work from home more effectively while preserving that all important work-life balance. Here are some helpful tips that the team here at AJ Products rely on when working away from the office.

DO - Buy yourself a proper office chair.

Sitting on your sofa or even at the dining table to work encourages slouching, putting a strain on your back, neck and shoulders. Short-term it may seem like a nice relaxed way to work but it very quickly becomes uncomfortable and impacts on both your physical wellbeing and your productivity. Whether or not your company is willing to reimburse you for the cost, a good office chair is worth the investment. Look for a stylish chair that provides effective lumbar support and allows you to adjust the angle of the seat and backrest. Leather or mesh office chairs can look smart in a home office set up.

DON’T - Work in your bedroom.

It’s important to have a clearly defined boundary between work and home. Set up a proper workspace as best you can. If you have a spare bedroom, convert this into your home office space and shut the door at the end of the workday. If you don’t have a space that can be separated in this way, the dining room or perhaps a corner of the lounge will have to suffice. Set up a small desk if you can so that even without a physical divide you will have a mental separation between work and home. Whatever you do, don’t work in your bedroom. It’s important to keep this most sacred of personal spaces as your own – plus you don’t want your colleagues seeing your unmade bed or dirty laundry if you have to join a video call unexpectedly!

DO - Structure your day like you would in the office.

At home, you have to self-motivate and act as your own manager. To stay on track, make yourself a schedule of what you'll do and when. Plan out what you’ll do in advance and then set reminders or create events in your online calendar. Your agenda should include a set lunch break as well as start and end times for your workday. The structure will help keep you focused and productive.

DON’T – Do the housework during the workday.

It’s easy to think it would be convenient to put on a load of washing while you work but, in reality, it’s likely to be yet another thing that distracts you. If it’s a task you wouldn’t or couldn’t do when working in the office, don’t do it at home. The laundry, washing up or vacuuming will wait until after work like it usually does!

DO – Set rules for other members of your household.

While working from home it’s quite likely that there will be other people in your house with you. Make sure your family or roommates know when you’re working and respect your work obligations. This may be different depending on who is at home. If you have children in the house, distractions are inevitable but try to set specific break times that you can spend with the kids and give them your full attention; likewise, if you have a conference call scheduled, make sure there is a plan in place to ensure you are not disturbed during that time. Consider posting a schedule on the door, using a simple "BUSY/NOT BUSY" indicator, or having a simple signal, such as wearing headphone means do not disturb. It’s important to set the expectation that being at home doesn’t mean you are available all the time.

DON’T – Be tempted to look at social media.

Without the structure of your usual work environment, it can be easy to procrastinate. Social media is one of the biggest temptations. Although you will only ever intend to spend a couple of minutes browsing, it is easy to get sucked in so that it becomes a distraction that affects your productivity. To help alleviate the temptation, remove any shortcuts from your browser and log out of your accounts during the workday – out of sight, out of mind as they say!

DO – Get some natural light and fresh air.

Set up your workstation near a window if you can. Access to natural light can help you stay focused, awake and productive during your workday by improving your sleep cycles and preventing eye strain caused by poor lighting conditions. By not leaving your house to get to work, you won’t spend as much time outside so open your windows to get some fresh air: another effective way to ward off tiredness.

DON’T – Sit still all day.

Working from home means you might miss out on walking or cycling as part of your commute and gives you even more excuses not to get up from your desk chair. If you want to create an active work environment that encourages more movement, you could invest in a standing desk and/or a balance ball chair. Otherwise, make sure to stand up and move around regularly. Just walking around the house or doing simple exercises, such as running up and down the stairs, can make a difference. Use your lunch break to go for a walk outside or do a workout at home.

DO - Stay connected to your colleagues.

Working remotely can make you feel cut off from the rest of your team. Finding the right support tools to help you and your team stay in contact is vital to ensure you stay productive at home. Use a mixture of instant messaging, project management platforms and videoconferencing tools to check in with your co-workers and manager regularly. This will ensure you know what’s expected of you and can help prevent a feeling of isolation, which can be very damaging to your mental health.

DON’T – Eat at your desk.

Eating at the desk is one of the worst office habits, borne out of a lack of time or options. Doing so at home will further blur the lines between work and leisure. Take a proper break instead and sit down at your kitchen or dining table to eat. In doing so, you will also get a break from your work and give yourself a chance to recharge.

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