As many thousands of office-based workers are now working from home for what appears to be the next few months, this might fill the more sociable folk with dread as they start to get to grips with a very new way of working. For Rambutan consultant Mark, this is not new, as he’s been primarily a home-based worker for the last 15 years. We asked him to share his thoughts on how he’s managed it.
These are testing times for all of us and working from home for many, many people will be a new and interesting, but possibly daunting experience. I’ve been doing it for the last 15 years and thought I’d share some tips on how to be productive and stay sane at the same time.
As you might expect from Rambutan (we don’t take ourselves too seriously), it’s a slightly irreverent guide to working from the home office.
Tip 1: Never work in your pyjamas. I’ve always found that if I’m in my jim-jams, I’m not yet in work mode. This is undoubtedly a mindset thing, but an important one to signify “I’m now at work”. The added benefit of this routine is that you’ll not have to worry about those emergency video calls revealing your Superman onesie or bed hair!
Tip 2: Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve not clocked eight hours. It’s absolutely true that you can be far more productive working on your own at home. I’d go as far as to say six hours at home is worth ten in the office, without all those pesky distractions from people saying “Have you got a minute?”
Tip 3: Microsoft Teams or Zoom reveal a lot about your general level of tidiness at home. A brilliant discovery I made on Microsoft Teams recently was the ability to blur the background but keep my face in focus when on video calls. This is a most excellent excuse not to have to tidy my home office!
Tip 4: Take breaks and do household chores at the same time. Loading the dishwasher, popping out to the food shop, feeding the cat or taking in an Amazon delivery are all brilliant ways to both take a short break from work, clear your thoughts, get a bit of exercise and do those little things in life that keep the house running smoothly. This will free up your evenings for binge-watching any Netflix series of your choice!
Tip 5: Turn that music up. I find I work better if there’s some music on in the background and the great advantage of working on your own is that there’s no-one there to criticise your taste in music! So get those playlists set up and crank up the volume. Don’t play any Leonard Cohen or the Smiths though, it might make you miserable.
Tip 6: Tea for one. Now, this is a big positive! No more having to ask the team “Who wants a brew?” and getting your timings wrong when all ten hands shoot up! Solo-brews should both be welcomed and celebrated as a super home-working perk!
Tip 7: Pick your own hours. Outside the confines of traditional office hours, you may now have the opportunity to do your work in the hours that best suit your own body clock. For me, that’s first thing in the morning and then again later on in the evening. I think I must have Mediterranean blood even though I’m from Yorkshire, but this does open up the possibility of an afternoon siesta if there’s nothing else in the diary… talking of which, it’s now 3pm, so I’m off for a quick nap.