The Do’s and Don’ts of Working from Home

The pandemic seems a distant memory now, but let’s not forget that it was the catalyst for a nationwide surge in working from home. Now, despite a rise in corporate businesses reintroducing back-to-the-office policies, a lot of employees continue to work from home in some capacity, be it fully remote or hybrid.

If you work on a hybrid or remote basis, leading company formation agent, Quality Company Formations, recommend several do’s and don’ts to help you preserve a healthy work-life balance and maintain productivity at home.

  • Don’t do your chores during the workday

It can be tempting to clear some of your daily household tasks off the list when you’re working from home. After all, it is convenient. However, it can be a huge distraction.

You might think it’ll only take you two minutes to load the washing machine, but realistically, you could get sidetracked with other jobs. And when the washing’s done, you’ll need to step away from your computer yet again to hang it up.

It sounds harmless, but it’s a considerable distraction that can very easily snowball into lots of wasted time. When you come back to your desk, you will have lost your focus and productivity, which can be difficult to get back.

Generally, if it’s something you wouldn’t be able to do while in the office, we don’t recommend you do it when working from home.

  • Do create a list of priorities

If you do have any urgent housework to do, try to reserve it for your break time or the end of the day once you’ve logged off. If it can’t wait and you find that you’re getting distracted by pending chores when working from home, a good way to stay on track is to start the day with a list of your work-related priorities.

In the morning, jot down all the jobs you need to tend to before clocking out and check it periodically throughout the day. If you’re falling behind, leave the washing up or hoovering until later and focus on your work during working hours.

  • Don’t work in bed

Working from home might sound like a great opportunity for a lie-in and cosying up in bed or on the sofa with your laptop. However, this can be harmful to both your physical and mental health.

Without proper neck, back, and wrist support, you could be putting a lot of strain on these areas of your body, potentially causing long-term muscle and nerve damage.

From a mental health perspective, working in an unsuitable setting means there is no disconnect between your home and work life. So, where you’d normally relax will become associated with work, which could make it more difficult to wind down at the end of the day.

  • Do set up a proper workspace

To remedy the above, we recommend setting up a proper, ergonomic workstation if you’re working from home. You should have a spacious desk, an office-style adjustable chair, and a monitor at eye level.

Of course, you may not necessarily have the luxury of space at home. If you don’t have a spare room to use as an office, you can set up a desk in the corner of your bedroom or living room. If you don’t have enough space for this, even working from the dining table is better than working in bed or on the sofa.

Alternatively, whether you have a home office or simply want a change of scenery once in a while, why not use a co-working space? That way, you can work remotely but in comfort, with adequate equipment.

  • Don’t roll out of bed at the last minute

One of the biggest perks of working from home is the absence of a commute. For many, this can save hours a day, and it can be tempting to use that extra time to catch up on sleep. However, this isn’t a habit we’d recommend.

Instead, you should factor commuting time in as if you’re travelling to work rather than rolling out of bed at the last minute. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be alert enough in such a short space of time, meaning you start work entirely out of focus, tired, and unproductive for the first hour or so.

In addition, if you have a meeting first thing in the morning, it’ll probably be obvious to others that you’ve just woken up, creating an unprofessional impression.

Rest is incredibly important, but if you’re waking up too late, perhaps it’s worth evaluating your sleeping habits and trying to find healthier patterns that allow you to wake up 30 to 60 minutes earlier.

  • Do get some exercise before work

One of the most important alterations one can make to working from home is to get out of the house for a walk right after breakfast as if you’re going to work. Spend about 15 to 30 minutes walking around your local area or park.

Not only is this good exercise, which is necessary after lying asleep for hours, but it is also the perfect mood boost and scenery reset before you start your workday at home. Getting out of the house for lunch or mid-afternoon is another excellent time to do this.

Even the NHS recommends this as part of their 6 big tips for people working from home, advising the public to: “If possible, spend time outdoors when you can. Regular time in green space is great for your mental health. Set a time to go for a walk, run or bike ride for some fresh air or have a tea or coffee break.”

Beyond exercise breaks, the NHS also recommends home-workers take micro-breaks between their hourly work schedule (something that office workers should also do). Try to take regular screen breaks and give yourself time to concentrate on something else so you feel more focused when you return.

Even just 5 to 10 minutes of short breaks each hour can really help your productivity. Just don’t jump on Instagram and doom-scroll - that’s not a break.

  • Don’t isolate yourself all day

Working from home can get very lonely, especially if you live alone. After a prolonged period of homeworking, you can also lose that sense of unity and camaraderie. If you’re an entrepreneur running the show on your own, that will especially be the case.

But if you have a team, colleagues, or business partners, remember not to hide in the shadows all day just because you don’t all work in the same office. Social interaction is essential for our mental health, so be sure to keep in touch with your co-workers regularly. This brings us to our next point.

  • Do try and work with a friend or with company

One of the aspects of office work that many people may miss (or dread) the most is, well, working alongside other human beings. As much as Teams and Zoom are excellent tools for virtual meetings, they can never replace the social value of face-to-face interaction over the course of a day in the office, its banality, banter, and unpredictability.

The NHS agrees. “You may also feel more isolated from [WFH]. But there are lots of ways to stay in touch with those who matter – boosting their mental wellbeing as well as your own. In and out of work, human interaction matters, so schedule video calls and pick up the phone instead of emailing. If you're struggling with working at home, speak to your colleagues or manager about your concerns.”

It can also be very beneficial to work from a library, a laptop-friendly cafe, or a co-working space. If you like doing that once or twice a week, it also makes for an important change of scenery from your home office.

  • Don’t be late for meetings

Whilst arriving late for a meeting is generally unacceptable regardless of where you are operating from, it is particularly unreasonable for remote workers.

Working away from the office is a privilege. If you are lucky enough to be granted this benefit, you are expected to be available, albeit remotely, when required, especially if the discussion has been prearranged.

Whether it’s an external call with a business contact or an internal catch-up with colleagues, punctuality is paramount. Try to ‘arrive’ at each meeting approximately 5 minutes early. This should give you enough time to fix any technical issues if they should arise. If you do encounter any problems that mean you can’t join the meeting, let all other attendees know as soon as possible.

  • Do ensure your working environment is meeting-appropriate

All online meetings that you attend should be carried out in an appropriate environment that is conducive to having an effective conversion on the relevant topic. In addition to having a good internet signal, the space should be quiet, so if there are other people in the house, shut the door and, if necessary, request that they be quiet.

The general expectation for a business meeting is that it be conducted in a private space, so unless the video call is particularly informal, avoid having it anywhere someone can listen in on the conversation. If you use a coworking space, ensure you book a private room for a meeting, or at the very least, find a secluded area within the space.

Regarding your background, you need to make the space you are in look as professional as possible. If you cannot do this - not everyone is lucky enough to have a dedicated office in the house - use a suitable background effect.

Thanks for reading

There you have our top 10 do’s and don’ts of working from home. Follow the tips that we’ve provided in this blog to help maintain your wellbeing and productivity.

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