13 Sep A beginner’s guide to working from home

Working from home seems too good to be true at first glance: No more commuting, no dress code and flexible hours (for a start).

In these days of rising office space rents, cost-cutting, immense traffic and online working, both employers and their staff are tempted by the possibilities presented by remote working. And many software developers successfully split their time between their home and the office.

Before you dig out those pyjamas though, have a frank conversation with your boss. Ask if it’s at all possible, suggest a trial basis (a day, a week or a month), and then make your preparations.

Some employers are hesitant about letting their staff work remotely. That means your first day working from home is a test. Here’s how you pass that test.

1- Remember that the work still has to be done!
Working remotely is not a day off! Treat it like you would any working day. That means being at your desk at the same time having had your breakfast and coffee. We’d also advise showering and getting dressed, to fully commit to work mode!

Sit at a desk, kitchen table or anywhere upright – anything but on an armchair or couch. Turn on the radio or music if you must, but not the TV.

Prepare a to-do list (prior to this remote work day) and work your way through it.

2- Organise your wifi, phone and files
It’s important for everyone – your colleagues, your boss, your clients (if any) and you – that working from home goes as smoothly as possible. Ensure beforehand that your wifi is fit for purpose. If you have a direct phone line at work, try to have it redirected to your mobile for the day. If that’s not possible, give your mobile number to whoever would like to reach you.

Ensure that any and all files that you need will be accessible, whether that means sending them to yourself, saving them to your laptop or uploading them to the cloud (many cloud services, including Google Drive, are free).

Also, if you’re working from a different computer, make sure that you have any passwords or log-in access you need. The key is to ensure that the day is at least as productive and smooth as one at your office.

3- Consult your calendar
Have a glance at your calendar for the day (or even week) that you’ll be working remotely to make sure that you’re not needed on location. This might include meeting clients at the office, collaborating with colleagues, regular catch-ups or mandatory attendance at important meetings. If there’s too much happening in your office for you to miss, you might be able to reschedule meetings or change the day that you work remotely.

A few moments looking at your calendar can save you a lot of headaches.

4- Plan to get out of the house
This one is more important than you might think. Working from home sounds wonderful in theory, but you will need some fresh air and/or human interaction to prevent cabin fever. Plan to get out at least once a day, whether it’s a walk or a run at lunchtime, a quick errand, meeting someone for coffee, having a work-related meeting, or having a quick lunch with a friend.

5- Monitor productivity
We mentioned a to-do list earlier. Follow that list as closely as you can, compare it to your normal working day, and examine and address it if there’s a shortfall. If there are measurable key performance indicators, use them.

If you’ve taken the above steps and remote working doesn’t work, don’t force it. Many miss the comradery of the office or their productivity suffers when working at home. However, if working remotely is important to you, you might be able to convince your employers that it’s a good fit for them too.

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