At first, working from home sounds like a dream, right?
Your commute consists of a trip from your bedroom to the lounge room.
You have unlimited access to your favourite snacks.
You can even turn your couch into the most comfortable office chair imaginable.
But if you’re an IT professional, the transition to working from home can have many unexpected downsides and challenges if you don’t do it right.
To help you really understand what it takes to work successfully from home and what you and your team might need to consider to make it work, we have put together this series of three key questions to ask yourself before you begin.
They will give you a greater insight into what working from home is really like help make the transition that much smoother.
1. Have you allocated a work space?
Even in these uncertain times, you might think working from home sounds pretty ideal. For one, the idea of moving around to different spots in your home to where it suits you best during the day or on different days sounds pretty appealing. You might be in the sunroom in the morning, in the lounge room around lunchtime, and working outside on the back patio to get the best of the afternoon sun.
But what you’ll quickly find is that moving around too much can be really detrimental to your productivity and can actually get pretty frustrating. If you need to be able to access documents or manuals, take notes, or use a headset, constantly moving them around or not having instant access to them can be a drag.
In the long run, you’ll be far better off setting up a permanent work area at home. You can still do the odd stint from your laptop outside for a few hours when it suits but you should try and keep one area as a permanent working space set up with everything you need. So that means not the dining room table where you have to keep shifting everything away every meal time or where your documents are going to get orange juice spilled on them. And don’t forget to keep it off limits to the rest of the household while you’re working.
Having a dedicated space also helps you with focusing and productivity. This is because instinctively you better understand that when you’re sitting at your work space you should be focused on working and can more easily avoid the distractions from the rest of your house. Which brings us to the next point.
2. Have you set out a routine?
Having a set routine will help your productivity immensely. If you don’t have a fixed start time it can be easy to get distracted by things you want to do around the house. Even worse, not having fixed start times or meeting times means you’re working out of sync with your teammates so might not be able to stay up to speed with what they’re doing.
Here’s how to structure your day:
- Get up at the same time you usually would when going to the office and follow the same routine. Have a shower, make breakfast and watch the news.
- Set yourself and you team a start time so that everyone is coming on board together.
- Schedule specific touch points with your team and manager such as daily meetings or catch ups. For example a 9am huddle where you discuss the days priorities and a 5pm debrief. This helps you stay accountable and helps remind everyone you work with that you’re all still part of a team.
- Set yourself time limits for lunch so that you don’t end up spending two hours making the best lunch you’ve ever had just because you lost track of time or were too flexible with your breaks. But also make sure you’re taking enough of a break and not working through the day because you have a case of the “work from home guilts”.
- Make time for the other things that are important to you. This might be going to the gym, taking a walk outside, having a conversation with a friend on the phone or getting some of you home DIY project done.
- Set yourself a finish time. With your home and work life blurred together in the one space, it can be very easy to work longer hours, or get onto your computer at 9pm because you remembered something you forgot to do. Try your hardest to stick to regular work hours so you don’t experience burnout.
3. Do you have everything you need?
The aim is to essentially recreate your work environment at home. This means having access to all the tools you normally use in your daily role. One way to do this is to set up your laptop or home desktop computer exactly the same as your work computer. In addition to the standard specialist work software you normally use, you also need to make sure you have Slack, Jiro, Skype, Zoom or any other software you need to communicate effectively with the rest of the IT team or with your clients.
As soon as you’re forced to do things differently to how you’re used to doing them or as soon as you stop communicating effectively with your team, things will either become far more difficult or will slowly unravel.
You might not realise how quickly you can feel like you’re out of the loop if you don’t maintain team communications because there’s likely a lot more casual collaboration involved in your office workday than you might realise. Whether that’s picking up on a best practice or a spontaneous team problem solving discussion, these can be easily missed when you’re working from home. So make sure you talk to your manager about getting all the software, equipment, and tools you need to do your job and keep being a great communicator.
Make working from home work for you
If you go into a work from home situation with a bit of planning and the right mindset, you can make it a smooth and successful transition. You can also ensure you remain an active and collaborative member of your team.
If you’re looking for some more details on how you can balance or overcome challenges associated with conducting your professional IT role from home, reach out to Finite and we’d be more than happy to help.