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4 ways to work from home productively

Some people get the luxury (or horror, if you prefer) of being based at home. It’s always been commonplace for regional sales reps, even if they are out on the road a lot of the time. But many more people get the opportunity to at least occasionally work from home nowadays, perhaps because of more flexible working arrangements, or because their employer understands that some specific jobs can be helped by “getting away from it all”. As somebody who’s worked from home for much of the last 20 years, here are a few tips for those “out of the office” days.

Firstly, and most obviously, shut yourself away. If there are family members, TV programmes or DIY projects making their presence felt, you need to be somewhere else. I got rid of the TV from my home office many years ago, but I ensure the best sound system in the house is in that room, because that’s where I play the most music, even if it is of the “background” variety. Just because you’re shut away doesn’t mean the environment has to be like a prison.

Secondly, make sure your desk, chair and computer are as good as those back in your normal workplace. If you’re uncomfortable, or the tools of the trade are lacking, you won’t be any more productive at home than you would be back in the office – perhaps less so. Whether you’re worth £20, £100 or £500 an hour to your company, decent equipment will pay for itself very quickly. If your company doesn’t see it that way, you won’t regret making the investment yourself.

Thirdly, don’t be a slob. When the sales manager on the magazine I once edited started working from home full time, he dressed up in his suit and tie every day, before climbing the stepladder to the office in his loft. He reckoned that even on the phone, he couldn’t deal with people unless he felt the part. If you dress like you’re on holiday, you’ll work like you’re on holiday.

Finally, set yourself working hours and breaks. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people working at home to work during the period they would otherwise have spent travelling to the office, but that should be the only difference. Just because you can work from home at 10pm doesn’t mean you should. I’ve been there, and in the end you just end up resenting your job and working less productively during proper working hours.

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