If you want to work from home, you’ll need some stationery and a plan
For many people, flexible working and flexi hours seem to be ideal – a way to fit work into your life, rather than the other way around. And the stats seem to suggest it’s a good idea.
The Guardian says that 70% of British office workers feel more productive, 38% say they’re more creative and 90% say that working flexibly doesn’t affect their ability to collaborate with co-workers.
There are 4.2 million people working from home, says the Office for National Statistics, the highest number ever. And it’s interesting that they tend to be in higher skilled roles. If you want to go for the flexible working dream, then you need to ground yourself in reality first. Here are some Euroffice tips to get you started.
With flexible working, you need to show that you’re super, super organised. Yes, keep calendar items on your phone and computer, but you should also get yourself a #diary or, even better, a #Filofax-style #organiser that allows you to keep track of dates, appointments and take proper notes. (A packed organiser is symbolic of a busy, but meticulous, employee.)
Keep your data safe
When you’re working out of the office you’ll need to keep your files safe and secure. We always recommend carrying a #USBstick for storing data on the go, but for confidential information you should use a secure model that requires a password to access files.
It’s good policy to also have an external hard drive so you can back-up your work laptop at home. Look for one that automatically syncs data to take the hassle out of backing-up.
Be professional about filing
Just because you are working from home shouldn’t mean that you are relaxed about paperwork (your colleagues will be quick to spot the coffee rings). And you’ll be ready to pick up the relevant files if called into the office for a meeting at short notice.
Don’t Let Your Phone go Down
One of the pitfalls of working remotely is losing comms. So get yourself an emergency phone charger. Essential if you’re going to be on the road.
Prepare for Collaboration
Flexible working doesn’t just affect you, but all your colleagues too. Before you start on your new schedule, speak with them about how they want to keep in contact – for example staying logged into an instant messaging service – and what potential challenges they foresee.
Come up with a plan to deal with any glitches. Flexible working is meant to be for your benefit, but not at their expense.
Reset Your Expectations
When you do start working from home more regularly, you’ll be in a familiar environment with an unfamiliar remit. You won’t have the routine or structure of an office, plus you may have other interruptions (kids, cold callers, etc).
Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Yes, that even means allocating time for lunch. (And get dressed; staying in your pyjamas all day isn’t as fun as it sounds.)
Have Weekly Catch-ups
When you’re out of the office you might get mixed or incomplete messages about projects and tasks. What’s easy to clear up by tapping a colleague on the shoulder at work, becomes more difficult when you’re miles away. Set up weekly meetings, even if it’s over the Internet, to make sure everyone is well informed.
Make Yourself Accountable
If you’re a manager that’s spending more time at home, you need work harder to stay on top of other people’s work, making sure everything is getting done.
Likewise, you have to be accountable to your staff.
If they can no longer see that you’re the first one in the office each morning, keep them updated with regular progress on your own projects so they feel everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Keep Socialising With Colleagues
Part of the glue that makes a company successful is socialising with colleagues, connecting and relating to them over something other than business. When you’re at home, you risk losing out on those types of connections and becoming isolated. Make an effort to keep in touch with colleagues outside the office whenever you can.
Do you have any tips or lessons to share about flexible working? Let us know in the comments.
Previously on The Euroffice Blog…