With the current need for social distancing, white collar contractors (Independent Professionals/IPros) are incredibly fortunate to be able to do their work from home. It’s becoming the new normal as we navigate the difficult health crisis.
Current circumstances aside, productive working from home can save time and money for both you and your client organisation, but there are also several snags that can make it an ineffective work arrangement.
If you find the hours are flying by but the items on your to-do list are not, read on for some remedies to these common traps.
Getting too comfortable
Working on your laptop in bed is great for browsing the news, but not so great if you are trying to get work done. Getting up, having a shower and getting set up at your desk tells you and those around you that, despite the fact you are home, you are working.
While you don’t need to put on a suit, getting dressed into comfortable clothes that aren’t your pyjamas can also help you feel more like you are at work. Establishing this as your regular routine will help you to snap into work mode a lot faster, not to mention avoid any embarrassing Skype calls in your flannelette pyjamas.
Having a proper desk set up with everything you need to do your job not only makes you feel more like you’re at work, it also ensures you are avoiding issues arising from poor posture. Check out our checklist to consider when creating your home office which considers technology, connectivity and tips for a productive ambience.
Falling victim to the lure of social media
If you’re guilty of getting side-tracked on social media or other websites, then there is an app to help free you from temptation.
RescueTime makes your work life more transparent by providing a breakdown of how you spend time on the internet, what websites you visit and for how long. By showing how much or how little time you spend on things other than your work you can identify where you are wasting time and help streamline your day.
The premium version goes one step further and allows you to block distracting websites, notify you when you have spent too much time at a website and commend you on particular bouts of productivity. RescueTime is a PC-based application, available for Mac, PC, Android and Linux here.
For Apple iPhone users, the inbuilt ‘Screen Time’ setting helps you set limits and on apps at specific times. Switch it on and you will be shocked at how many hours a day you while away online.
Letting the personal seep into the professional
When your home is your office, it can be easy for the lines between your personal and professional life to blur. Without someone telling you when to clock on and clock off, personal appointments and home errands can become a distraction from your work. For some people, the best way to combat this is to put a blanket ban on non-work-related activities during work hours.
Others may find that, provided they get all their work done, short breaks away from their desk combats isolation and makes them more productive. The important thing to remember that if your client organisation doesn’t mind flexible hours, is to keep a log of the hours you are actively working. This ensures you are fulfilling your commitments to your client and getting the job done.
Losing touch with your manager and colleagues
Regularly checking in with the team will help you combat loneliness as well as ensure you stay responsive and across all that is going on in the office. Emails may get the job done, but they are not the only tool in the technological arsenal of the remote worker.
Collaboration is a huge part of the workplace, and Office 365 offers a range of tools designed to optimise remote interaction, from Skype for Business, real time chat that also offers screen sharing and video conferencing, to Sharepoint, a file storage platform that offers the creation of documents, presentations and spreadsheets that can be edited by multiple users at one time. Microsoft Teams is also an effective tool for keeping in touch outside of email.
While working from home may be an essential practice in the current environment, one must stay vigilant to continue the responsibility to your client organisation to get the job done.