With nearly 14 percent of the UK workforce now doing their jobs from home, IT professionals who work remotely are fast becoming the norm. When done effectively, more and more employers are realising the very real increases in productivity that can result from stepping out of the traditional office environment. Even the most driven can find it a challenge to keep home working productive and healthy, though, and it’s with a few proven pitfalls in mind that we’ve come up with these top tips:
Create a dedicated space
Even if you’re not fortunate enough to have a spare room you can set aside as a home office (obviously the ideal scenario), a dedicated desk space in the corner of a room can still work psychological wonders, especially when compared to the kitchen table. Try to keep it as distraction-free as possible – it’s a good idea to minimise contact with pets and family, or even a diverting view.
Stick to a schedule
While some home workers find motivation a problem, just as many find themselves overdoing it. If you fall into this latter category, try to resist the temptation to work all hours by sticking to an office hour-based schedule, with regular breaks. If you do have to do the odd late night, try installing some free, light-controlling software such as Flux – which gradually alters the blue light on your computer screen to a more sleep friendly pinkish tone as the hours tick by – to make sure you’re able to get a proper night’s sleep and remain as productive as possible the next morning.
Keep backache at bay
This is actually easier to achieve at home than in the office. Remember you have total control of your work environment, so make the most of it: invest in a decent ergonomic chair, a fitness ball or even a standing desk so your posture is kept tip top; stand up and walk around every hour or so to ensure you’re not stuck in one position too long and go for a stroll when taking phone calls from colleagues.
Use caffeine wisely
With the kitchen right there, it can be tempting to sup cafetieres of the black gold all day long. Drinking a cup in the morning is, apparently, far from ideal. Instead, try to time your caffeine boosts for between 9.30 - 11am and 1.30 - 5pm or so, to match natural dips in cortisol levels and ensure you’re getting a kick when you really need it.
This is one of the number one psychological factors that many home workers have to combat, and unless it’s nipped in the bud it can seriously affect productivity levels. If they’re not already in place, suggest some formal systems that your organisation can implement to ensure remote workers still feel part of a team. These can include regular, scheduled one-to-one feedback sessions, weekly visits to the office, and a clearly defined colleague to talk to and procedures to follow if there are any issues.