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05 Sep 2018
BY Ali Findlay

How does working from home really work?

4 million Britons do it.  But are we doing it right?

It's a much sought after perk to have as part of your job, but working from home is a benefit that can turn out to be a bit of a double edged sword.  In some cases it's an incredibly effective way of getting the focus to tear through that 'to do' list - on the other hand it can mean working frenziedly into the night because you spent the day tidying the kitchen, doing laundry and getting sidetracked by daytime TV.  So how do we make the most of this privilege and make sure that us and our employers benefit from it?  Well, we've put together a few helpful tips to guide the uninitiated on how to make working from home work for everyone.

1. Create the right environment
If you've got a noisy home environment, children that demand your attention, or partners that see your WFH day as a chance to leave you holding the baby while they shoot off for a haircut - then can you really do your job properly?  Your employer will sense the lack of delivery and that'll impact on their willingness to offer the privilege to others.  It's not fair on them, or you.  Making sure you have a dedicated work desk and as few distractions as possible will go a long way.  Working from home is essentially a flexibility privilege so be honest with your employer and yourself - whoever you work for needs an incentive to extend trust and responsibility.

2. Work to your 'best' hours
If you really can commit to being efficient while working from home, then try to design your day around your internal clock and your best hours.  Set a time to start and end your working day and make sure you have time to have breakfast, shower and get dressed as if you were going in to the office.  If you feel sloppy, then your work probably will be too.  It's important to enjoy the benefits too of course - if you don't have to drive through rush hour, you've probably got time to give the dog a longer walk or take the kids to school.  Doing things like this will help you start the day feeling positive and really appreciate the privilege.

3. Don't panic about what you're missing
You probably planned a WFH day to either allow you to work while being at home for an improtant delivery/home commitment or to get peace and quiet to concentrate.  So don't check your email all the time because you're worried about being disconnected.  Try to stay in touch 'productively' and check back in at planned intervals.  If your team is used to regular updates, set their expectations that you'll be at home in order to get your head down and they won't feel as 'in the dark'.

4. Make a Plan
If you're like me, you might get carried away with tasks that weren't really planned for that day, and some of the essential ones slip down the timetable.  Having a list of deliverables is a pretty simple action, but it'll really help focus the mind on what you need to achieve in the day.  If you really, really don't trust yourself setting alarms or downloading apps like Toggl or RescueTime can help.  Careful though, you might get a fright about where you thought you spent your time and where you actually spent it!

5. Don't abuse the privilege
Your employer will have an intuition for when WFH really delivers and when it doesn't - if you lose the privilege so might others (who don't deserve to).  Most managers have been there and done it, so if they've unsuccessfully tried it when they had young kids at home, they're not going to be positive about you asking to do the same.  If you're going to ask, be ready to outline what steps you've taken to ensure you can really work.

Oh... and whatever you do - don't forget your laptop charger!