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The good and bad of homeworking

Working from home

If you haven’t worked from home it’s easy to be seduced by the late starts, the long lunches and the summer afternoons in the garden. If you do it regularly, you’ll know this image is far from the truth. Working from home is hard. So we’ve come up with a few ideas to make it easier, and more productive.

Thanks to faster broadband, the plethora of new laptops, tablets and smartphones, and a change in attitude from staff and employers alike, more of us have the opportunity to work from home. And many of us are taking advantage – whether we’re doing it part-time or full-time, or running a business from the study or spare room.

With several years of home working experience under our belt, we wanted to share some of the advantages and disadvantages we discovered.

On productivity

More time and a (hopefully) quiet environment can improve focus and boost productivity. A lot of remote employees feel that they get more done in the comfort of their own home. But the distractions are still there, only they’re different – like putting the washing out or turning on the TV.

Tip #1 Your office is your work space and you should set some ground rules – like no interruptions during your 8-hour day.

On work-life balance

With no commute and the option for flexible working, home working gives you the flexibility to go to the gym, pick up the children from school and much more. But it can also blur the boundaries between work and home. You may find yourself working late into the night or being unable to switch off and relax knowing there’s work to be done ‘in the office’ in the next room.

Tip #2 Make sure you’re up, dressed and ready to start at your usual time. Then turn everything off at the end of the working day – including your phone – and shut the door to the office.

On feeling isolated

You may get fewer interruptions from colleagues chatting about last night’s TV or your dinner plans, but you’ll also have considerably less human contact. If you’re naturally social having just your computer for company can leave you feeling isolated.

Tip #3 Instead of sending emails, pick up the phone and have a chat. Take your laptop and meet a friend or sit in a café for lunch.

On stress

Without the daily commute, and with a comfortable working environment, many people who work from home report a reduction in stress. But technical issues such as poor mobile reception or internet/computer problems can be a major issue. And there’s rarely an IT support person to come and help you out.

Tip #4 Make sure you have professional technology as soon as you start out – and if you need IT support it’s worth thinking about buying a managed or supported service from a technology provider.

On mental and physical health

With more time for themselves, many people report an improvement in their overall physical and mental health. On the flip side however some people report their eating habits slip and they find it harder to get outside for fresh air.

Tip #5 Stay healthy. Prepare a healthy lunch before you start your work day and take regular breaks – with a quick walk round the garden or to the corner shop for some fresh air.

Working from home is a positive experience for many. But it’s always beneficial to keep your work and home life separate so you can still enjoy going ‘home’ at the end of the day.

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