For certain positions being present in the office is absolutely necessary – but today many office-based roles can easily become home-based – an environmentally sound solution which minimises pollution, saves on travel costs and allows flexible working – something that many employees (especially those with family responsibilities) often crave most.
As a Corporate Marketing Manager, I work across many departments within Bright Horizons, interacting with several diverse areas of the organisation. For the past 3 years I’ve been lucky enough to work from home – commuting to the office only when necessary and holding most meetings via telephone, or Skype. Personally, this works for me – I really appreciate the additional time saved from a stressful commute and the space and peace that a home working environment brings.
Of course, working from home brings its own challenges – and if you’re not careful the boundaries between work and life can easily get blurred. Discipline is required - old stereotypes about ‘skiving off’ aren’t necessarily true – but it is very easy to get distracted by household tasks – how can you write that report with a sink full of dishes? Also, not everybody is suited to working from home – in fact, if employees are not set clear expectations, or given too much work, in some circumstances some people may find it stressful and isolating.
Striking a balance is key - it’s very, very easy for home-workers to spend 8 hours stretches (or longer) glued to the computer when deadlines are looming. Getting up, moving around and building time into your schedule to go out for lunch are all to be strongly recommended. If, like me, you find it hard to switch off and walk away, adding in a reminder to your email calendar to take 30 minutes away from the screen can be a useful reminder.
Top tips for successful working from home
- Communication is key - be available when colleagues get in touch and always answer voicemails/emails promptly
- If you work within an extended team and don’t always have direct contact with all team members, calling/emailing them occasionally to remind them of you/what you’re working on is good protocol
- If you’re managing a team of home-workers, regular meetings (video calls/telephone conferencing) keeps them connected and a daily/weekly catch up call with ‘the boss’ is helpful
- Get up and move - scheduling small tasks for lunchtimes/breaks which require interacting outside of the house works means that you will see sunlight at some point!
- Make your home office a proper work space – most companies with a home working policy will offer guidance, supplies (and potentially a budget) to help you create a healthy and productive working zone
- Home-workers can feel isolated - make the most of instant messaging and social networks – these often facilitate a much quicker response than email and replicate some of the ‘watercooler’ conversation that home-workers can miss out on.
Joanna Thubron, Corporate Marketing Manager