To mark the U.K.'s National Work from Home (WFH) Day last Friday, the entire silicon.com editorial team decided to give the office a wide berth. No strangers to working from home, it should have been straightforward but with nobody at all in the office it turned out missing the daily commute can be both a blessing and a connectivity curse.
Here are the team's 10 top tips to make working from home less of a problem and more of a plus:
1. If you regularly carry your laptop back and forth from the office, get hold of a spare battery pack and keep it at home so you don't have to remember it every time you plan to WFH.
2. Make sure you have a few ways for people to contact you--such as a mobile, a landline, email and instant messaging--so if one connectivity mode goes down for a while, your colleagues will still have a way to reach you--and you them.
3. Understand how to structure your working day for the greatest benefit to you and your company--whether that means doing a few hours early doors, taking the kids to school and walking the dog, or logging on late at night to free up time during the day.
If you are able to bring a necessary--or less stressful--degree of flexibility to your working day then you should be more dedicated to your work and feel more energized. Your employer should see that as a definite benefit.
4. Tapping away on a laptop is fine on a plane but when working from home make sure you have a full size keyboard and a mouse--and a monitor if possible, as well as a comfortable work space--your wrists/neck/eyes/back will thank you in the end.
5. Make sure friends, family and partners understand what working from home is about and that they appreciate it's not an 'available for chores and errands day'.
Also, keep your work and home life separate even if the venue is the same. Some people favor a home office which is locked during out-of-office hours and off-limits to others during the working day.
6. Remember to take breaks and stretch your legs--go and make a phone call or a cup of coffee--otherwise, before you know it, you'll have been sat staring at the screen for four hours in a row and will have given yourself a headache.
7. Make sure you take a proper lunch hour and finish on time. There's a great temptation to extend your working day at the beginning or end--feeling like it's only time you would spend commuting anyway.
8. Make sure you have phone numbers for your tech department in case your connection or computer dies--and for your home ISP in case there are other connectivity troubles.
Likewise, remember to take home or duplicate any files you might need to refer to in case of connectivity crashes. However, when transferring any data from office to home ensure it is well protected - preferably encrypted.
9. If you've got important calls to make, ensure you're somewhere quiet where you can switch your phone to speakerphone and not be disturbed by roadwork on your street, noise in your home or the sound of your neighbor doing a spot of DIY.
And don't always trust VoIP over your home broadband network--unless you swear by the quality--make sure you have a back-up option.
10. Finally, don't feel guilty--you are probably working harder than you do in the office so don't be made to feel as if you're skiving at home.