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26. 03. 2020

10 tips how to manage a home office

Home office has been the standard in our company for more than 15 years now and that is why we decided to share with you a few tips and tools that allow us apply this style of work.

1. Make sure to distinctly separate work-designated time from your private life

That is probably one of the greatest challenges in working from home. To most people, their work is finished when they walk out of the office and close the door. But when one works from home and your “office” remains within your sight all the time, detaching from work may not be an easy task as unfinished work stays within your reach. Another problem might be frequent departing from your work to run your own private errands. It is very important to make difference between the times one is at work and, for instance, times to spend with your family. Practice your self-discipline and observe your working hours.

2. Set company working hours and tell your colleagues what they are

When working in a company office, we are among people and under constant supervision by the others. That is why we do not tend to procrastinate as much. On the other hand, when working from home, there is nobody to keep an eye on us and we become our own boss. This is a very important point to keep in mind and avoid misusing it as you can be sure that your results are always visible.

You have to set into a daily routine, setting clear, exact working hours. If you decide fairly to work, for example, from 9.00 am to 12.00, it helps you to avoid procrastination. At the same time it is important to tell your colleagues so that they know when they can contact you if needed.

3. Set your family schedule

Especially families with young children can find this tip helpful. Working from home when there are children jumping around all the time is hard. Therefore there is a purpose in teaching the kids some rules and setting a schedule for them where they can see when you would be available to them or, conversely, when they are to respect you are working. Include in the schedule the times when you would be attending to them and the time when that would be done by your spouse. This will allow time for each of you to work while the other is taking care of the kids. This is actually an excellent tool to organize your working time and time with your children. And your schedule may hang on the fridge, for example.

4. Eliminate all disturbing elements

Working while the TV is on and it catches some of your attention is not a good idea. The same it is not a good idea to work at a time when there are children playing around. Do not sign in to social networks and Google unnecessarily because you could find out at the noon that you have actually done nothing yet. It would divert your attention and make your work inefficient. When working from home, you should create an environment free of disturbances. One thing that helps is to set up a permanent space where you are at work. 

5. Set a place within your home to work

It should not be any place where you are used to relaxing as such place would tempt you to turn the TV on or take a nap. We recommend that, ideally, one should have his/her own room or at least a corner designated for working only. Whenever you sit down there your brain would simply switch to the working mode, not tempting you to do other things. If your children have to stay at home with you, it will set up the limits for them, as well, because they will realize that they have no business whatsoever at your work.

6. Create a pleasant atmosphere

Turn on your favorite music, lit a candle … well, simply anything that makes you feel happy. There is nothing to hold you back doing that because there are no other people around to mind as could be the case in a shared office.

7. Do not work in your pyjamas.

It is very important not to make yourself feel like you can go back to bed any time. It is a way to separate your working life from your private one.

8. Clear your mind

It is certainly not a good idea to keep sitting from 7 am to 5 pm at the computer and keep working uninterruptedly. After three hours of work you would find out anyway that you lose your concentration and make unnecessary mistakes. Make sure to have short breaks in between. Go to the kitchen to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee or take a short walk in your garden. One does not work 8 hours long without any interruption in an office either. The same applies here. A short break can actually help a lot. Just make sure that you do not pop out every half an hour or stretch your breaks for nothing. The truth is that nobody is going to do your work for you, and that means that you would only have to work nights later.

9. Keep in touch with your colleagues

The thing connected with a home office is that in reality you do not see your colleagues face to face. But that can be made up for too and you can sweeten your work by keeping in touch with your colleagues over online communication platforms.  If you are trying to resolve a problem and do not exactly know how to approach it, make a phone call to your colleague and consult. Set a group chat to discuss all you need to talk over. Keep in close contact and you will find your work easier to do.

10. Take advantage of all tools available

Conventional Skype is a proven tool for us to communicate. It allows for setting up various user groups and sharing communication among all the concerned. Online calling, including the possibility to share the screen, works great and you need not plan anything ahead. Connecting the company with people outside is easy.

If you are an Office365 subscriber, you can also use Teams to communicate within your company but, compared to Skype, communicating with customers is still rather complicated.

DropBox for Companies proved to be a great shared repository. Nevertheless there are more possibilities provided by Google, Microsoft or Apple.

A system to log working tasks comes handy too. We use YouTrack. We also have good experience with Jira but there are countless other good alternatives.