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Corresponding from my bunker with many friends in recent days, I’ve realised that whilst I take home-working (mostly) for granted now, it is highly unusual – certainly over an extended period – for many. There are lots of ‘top tips’ doing the rounds at the moment, but here’s mine to add to the mix…

Prepare a working space that will work the way you want it to. Homes are very different to workplaces. Try to balance isolation with socialisation throughout the day. Find a means of creating quiet (earbuds?) if you need or crave it. Otherwise, it’s very stressful.

Make sure the Tech works. Check in advance wireless signal and phone signal strength and whether your PC is up to the job of teleconferencing etc. effectively. Tech that doesn’t deliver when you need it is VERY stressful as it’s impossible to work efficiently without it.

And if you're sharing the home, make some clear ground rules about interruptions and use of space. Try and find a space you can ‘own’ during working hours which minimises distractions. If you can, also put your personal phone away or switch off social media notifications.

Prepare a 'to do' list for the following day. Try and combine ‘urgent’ tasks with ‘important’ ones. Make sure you allow at least two extended ‘deep thought’ sessions: one am and one pm. Use these for projects and documents.

Around these, aim to do all your other tasks. You’ll get fewer distractions at home so a useful tip for stopping and moving on is to use the ‘pomodoro’ technique: set a kitchen timer or your phone timer for 25 minutes and aim to make this the maximum for standard tasks. ‘Pomodoro’? Yes, if the kitchen timer is shaped like a tomato – apparently!

Be 100% focussed on your ‘to do’ list. Funny how easily displacement activity can hijack your day, with all the chores you hate doing suddenly becoming ESSENTIAL before you start that important presentation or document! Plan a treat for completing it all. Well done when you do!!

Social interaction is essential. Plan phone calls and don’t feel guilty about ‘chatting’ for a small amount of time. It’s a vital release. Over the course of a week, aim for at least three virtual coffee-meets.

Same with exercise. To get through the day, take regular breaks to stand, stretch and run up and down the stairs three of four times once an hour to get the blood pumping. Again, don’t feel guilty about going for a 20-minute walk if you can. It’s really important to stand back from your tasks regularly to take stock and not get sucked in - and this is the perfect opportunity.

Close the door on it. Literally and metaphorically. Decide at the start of the day when you will finish - and stick to it. There’s always more you can do, but it is only one part of your life.

I hope these help you if you’re new to remote working. None of them are rocket science, but they have all helped me to be more effective. Homeworking can provide some great opportunities to work the way that suits you best – so make the most of it! And stay healthy!

Mark Bosworth,
Bosworth Consultancy