In a recent survey, over a third of people claimed they would rather work flexible hours than get a pay rise.
The concept of working from home often receives mixed reviews, with many being skeptical that workers can be as productive at home as in the office.
However, with advancements in technology, communication methods and global working, some organisations are beginning to see flexible working as an option. For example, thanks to instant messaging and video calling, teams can stay instantly connected even if they are not under the same roof – making remote working completely possible.
Proving all cynics of remote working wrong, CK Clinical’s Medical Manager Julia Day works remotely and recently won Sales Consultant Of The Year voted by SMT and Staff Sales Person Of The Year voted by the staff, for all her hard work and efforts.
Julia started working for us in 2015 and currently works from home to avoid long commutes and to suit her working style. This year she exceeded all her sales targets, reinforcing the fact that working from home is a prosperous set-up for both her and CK Clinical.
But working remotely in an effective manner takes effort – so here are some top tips to stay productive whilst in the comfort of your home.
Find your work space
Some people think working from home means lying on the couch with the TV on. Working like this is not viable, and certainly not productive.
If you are working remotely make sure you have a home office or suitable desk space dedicated to work, with little distractions around you.
This will not only help you concentrate but will also allow you to leave your dedicated work area and disconnect once your working day is over. Julia explains that, after a day of work, she shuts the door of her office to feel like she is back at home.
When you work from home it is easy to lose routine as well as get physically lazy –and this in turn can affect your way of working.
A good idea is to start the day as you would if you were leaving the house– for example get ready, have breakfast and go for a walk – to get prepped for the busy day ahead.
Julia adds “I’ve learned you do need to be strict with yourself, ensure you have regular breaks and stop for lunch. I’ve also found getting a dog is a great help. Not only does she ensure I have a routine as I walk her before and after my working day, but she also keeps me company at work!”.
Make sure you stay connected with your team
Working successfully with your peers is the key to working productively.
In an office you automatically form relationships with colleagues by spending your breaks with them, discussing your weekend plans or making cups of coffee. This regular interaction consequently makes working together easier as you already have their trust.
Yet, working away from the office makes it hard to form relationships and fit into the office community. This can cause obstacles when working with your team; they may be less loyal to you and asking them for work favours can feel more awkward without that much-needed personal connection.
When working from home it is important to be seen as proactive, and not be scared to ask for help or to share information that could help your team. This regular interaction is vital to stay in touch.
Julia overcame this problem by spending time in the office. When she started at CK she alternated her time in different offices and spent at least one night away from home every other week. This allowed her to travel, see people from work and tie in external meetings.
If you work hours away from the office, and cannot make regular visits, then connecting often with your team face-to-face (via video) is an alternative suggestion. Studies have proven that seeing someone and their body language helps you understand them, and therefore work better together. Read our advice on being an effective team player here.
Provide regular updates
When working from home there can be trust issues between you and your team and managers.
To overcome this, proactively keep them up-to-date – for example send them your daily schedule at the start of the day and what you have accomplished at the end of the day. This will give your team and superiors confidence that you are contributing.
Remember to communicate the good and the bad, so that they are kept in the loop with your line of work.
Also, make yourself accessible by always answering the phone when you can, and replying to messages promptly – to avoid any misconceptions. Let them know if you are busy or in a meeting, in case they try and contact you then.
To work from home successfully you need to build up trust more than you would if you were sitting by your superiors.
Take accountability for your work and push yourself
Finally, work for yourself and not for others. This will help you feel proud of your work and push yourself to achieve your goals.
Another useful tip is to write a schedule daily and ensure you complete all your tasks by the end of the day.
Julia did just that – she made sure she not only achieved her targets but went above and beyond her responsibilities.
However, she also adds that “you can easily take working from home to the other extreme and simply not stop” by fear of being perceived as not being productive enough. It’s all about finding the right balance to suit your workload and your lifestyle”.
If working remotely is important for you, make sure you find a company that will respect this.