Working from home for dummies
Undoubtedly one of the easiest and effective opportunities to green a business is to encourage telecommuting – or working from home as real people call it. You only have to look at the daily queues of cars shuffling forwards towards city centres and out of town business parks to see the massive reduction in emissions that telecommuting can deliver – and that’s before you start shrinking your office space. Added to this are better quality of life, more time with the family (hopefully those two are connected) and the strengthening of local communities.
Yet so many people make a big fuss over the whole idea of working where they live and you hear all these bizarre stories about people dressing in a suit and walking around the block before sitting at their desk to recreate their commute to work – or even keeping timesheets of what they do all day. That’s the kind of nonsense you should be leaving behind with the office coffee rota.
So here’s my simple guide to working from home:
1. Find a good space to work
I have a room which, unless we have guests, is my office and my office only. I can close the door on the rest of the house and get on with it. It is also worth having a couple of bolt holes like cafes with free wifi access. I also like working in the garden when weather permits (see above – oh for a glare-proof laptop screen!). Make sure you have good ICT connections – reliable broadband, mobile and/or dedicated fixed phone line. Buy a decent seat and desk.
2. Relish the flexibility
Here’s my morning so far – I got dressed in my running gear, breakfast with the family, walked the boys off to nursery, ran about 5 miles through the beautiful Jesmond Dene, got back, put the kettle on and started working on this blog. If I didn’t have a meeting I wouldn’t shower until lunchtime, but today I’m being interviewed for a PhD project so I’ll have to freshen up. It’s a hard old life…
3. Abolish the presenteeism habit
Presenteeism is an awful habit. But to truly enjoy working from home, you need to become very task-oriented, rather than a slave to the clock. A good to do list first thing in the morning can make the difference – and remember to stick a couple of personal tasks on it too (see point 2). If you get everything done, then don’t sit at your desk surfing the web and pretending you are busy – go and have a beer/coffee/snooze to celebrate.
4. Build a social network
It can get a bit more lonely as a home worker – although the upside is you don’t need to put up with the office idiot either. Facebook and Twitter (@GarethKane) are my main connections with the outside world while I’m at my desk, but also, as I’ve got to know the neighbours well since my home office days started, I quite often have chats to, from and in the corner shop and the local cafe (see point 1). My partner and boys are in the house two days a week, so those days I tend to have lunch with them. Beats any canteen, hands down. Failing that, get a pet.
5. Live life properly
Make it easy for yourself. Listen to the radio (6Music is the soundtrack to my life), stock the fridge with great food for lunch, use the ex-commuting time for exercise, and celebrate successes and achievements. I tend to allow myself a lot of latitude on a Friday, so I’m probably have a pub lunch after the interview this morning, then a mixture of shopping and working in cafes or the library this afternoon.
Trust me, it’s the future!