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Want to work from home more in the future? Here’s 10 tips to show you how to make that happen.

If you’ve been wanting the chance to prove you can work productively from home, then the opportunity has arrived, albeit in a viral form.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner
A cat is biting her owner's hand while she is trying to work on her laptop

Every crisis gives us the opportunity to look for (and find) silver linings. If you’ve been wanting the chance to prove you can work productively from home, then the opportunity has arrived, albeit in a viral form.

While this current work-from-home strategy is part of a responsible short-term national response to a serious global crisis, it is very likely to change the work landscape of the future.

While none of us wants to be stuck at home forever, we now have the best opportunity we’ve ever had to prove to our employers that we can still be engaged and productive if we work from home a day or two a week. Let’s not blow it!

I built two successful businesses working from home and have coached scores of others to do the same. I know first-hand how easy it is to get distracted and lose focus. I also know how to make it work for you.

So, here’s how to do it:

1. Remember you are not on a 14-day holiday!

I’ve been amazed at how many people have confused self-isolation with the chance to binge on Netflix or landscape the garden during business hours. This is your chance to show your employer what great stuff you are made of. Don’t blow it!

2. Create a fit-for-purpose designated workspace.

This is not the dining room table in amongst all the other stuff that gets dumped there! Unless of course you have a separate dining room that you are willing to convert to a home office of sorts. Ideally, you want to have a clear surface in a quiet spot with good natural light near your modem and a power point. Try to replicate your desk at work if you can – photos, filing trays, a pot plant.

3. Call a house meeting and agree on how it’s going to work.

You’ll need others in the house to understand the commitment you have to your employer and that just because you are home, you are not necessarily ‘available’ to them. Agree on how they are going to go about listening to music, watching TV, socialising etc. during your work hours. They’ll understand.

4. Mirror your normal work routine in the mornings and get dressed for work!

If you normally get up at 6.30am and go to the gym before work, keep doing that. Eat breakfast, get dressed in your work clothes in the same amount of time you normally would. Not changing your routine will keep you focussed and in work mode.

5. Start work at the same time you would normally start, or earlier!

Get to your desk at the time you’d normally be heading to the bus, train or garage to start the commute. Getting started a bit earlier will not only make you more productive, you’ll feel more relaxed and in control of the day, all of which will also make you a nicer, happier you!

6. Turn off the TV and radio.

Just because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean that noise distractions will affect you any less. Research tells us that background noise is a major contributor to stress, lost concentration and distracted thinking – all killers of productivity.

7. Stay true to your task list and priorities in the same way you would if you were in the office.

Make your To-Do lists just as you always have. Use technology to check in with your workmates just as you always have to make sure projects don’t stagnate and everyone stays on the same page.

8. Use headphones for calls and online conferences.

This will cut out any background noise, making the call more professional, less stressful and more productive for everyone.

9. Stay in communication with your workmates.

We are herd animals and need to socialise to maintain good mental health and feelings of well-being. If your employer doesn’t already use a communications tool, fire up your technology. Learn how to use all the free apps you haven’t bothered to learn before. Things like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp, Slack, HipChat – there’s loads of ways we can stay in face to face contact with our mates while doing our bit to curb the spread of COVID-19.

10. Resist the temptation to put a load of washing on.

Go for a quick walk instead. I reckon this is the biggest one of all! I know from first-hand experience how much a load of washing here and there can break your train of thought, reduce your focus and relegate your business to a hobby. But a walk gets you some fresh air and exercise, both important to maintaining clarity and productivity.

Grow your skills and succeed

I guarantee that if you follow these tips, you’ll feel better about your contribution during this difficult time, ably demonstrate that you’re someone who can be productive while working from home, and position yourself well to negotiate some work-from-home flexibility when we come out the other side of COVID-19.

Because this too shall pass.

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner

Bernadette Eichner, Cofounder and CEO of Just Right People, is a recruitment industry entrepreneur and thought leader in Australia, totally committed to improving the recruiter experience for clients and candidates alike. Her secret to life is to “just do the next thing that needs to be done”.

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