I was asked on the Bobby Kerr show recently to give my top tips for working from home. I had completely over-prepared for the short slot and thought it might be a good idea to share a more in-depth list here.

  1. The first tip, don’t call it “working from home”. Despite all best efforts and evidence to the contrary “working from home” sounds too domestic. It conjures up images of someone putting on the laundry, popping a chicken in the oven and answering email all at the same time. Remote working sounds much more dynamic. Same thing. Different language.

  2. Set a regular routine. For most people, the problem with remote working is rarely not doing enough work but doing too much work. Anxious to prove that you are a valuable employee working all the hours most remote workers run the risk of never taking regular breaks or eating a proper lunch. The other problem with working from home is the temptation to just “quickly check email” first thing in the morning. If you are not careful you will still be sitting there in your pyjamas come 11 o’clock wondering what that strange smell is. Hint: It is you.

  3. Have a proper office space. Ideally with a door. No one can do effective work if they first need to find said work under a football kit. The other piece of advice is to invest in a proper monitor and keypad so you aren’t all hunched up over your laptop. As I write this I am of course hunched up over my laptop so do as I say and not as I do. What I did invest in though is a really good, corporate grade printer. This was expensive but invaluable for reviewing contracts, reading documentation etc.. Decide what is important for you and invest in it accordingly.

  4. No social media or useless gossip/ sports pages. If you think this will be an issue there is a great app called “StayFocused” it is a Google Chrome extension and it is completely free. It allows you to spend only a set amount of time on certain sites and also has a nuclear option which can block a site in its entirety. That said if you think this is going to be a really big problem for you then you may need to re-think remote working in its entirety.

  5. Lean in to your working style. Remote working is a great way to manage not just your time but your energy. Freed from the constraints of a cubicle work the hours which suits you best in terms of different tasks. If you are a “lark” and concentrate best in the morning then set the morning time aside for deep and concentrated work. Similarly, if you are an “owl” lean in to that and do more admin tasks and meetings in the morning.

  6. Define what it is you need to get done. Remote working works best when you have clear, definable tasks which produce a tangible outcome. If the work is more subjective then it becomes harder to define (and ultimately charge for).

  7. Before deciding to work remotely make sure you have all the technology you need. Most applications these days are in the cloud and Trello, Slack & Google Hangouts are all great for communicating with bigger teams. Have a backup plan for what happens if your wi-fi goes down. I find the personal hotspot on my phone is super reliable and never lets me down. It is a solid Plan B.

  8. Be careful not to become isolated. A few days of quiet work at home can be wonderful. But if you start to feel lethargic and disinterested it could be loneliness creeping in. Take time to meet people in person regularly. Also, if possible, visit the office and make sure everyone knows the great work you are doing.

  9. Remote working is not to be confused with child minding. Tempting though it may be to combine the two and save on astronomical childcare fees that are really not a long term option. It is not fair on you, your kids or your employers. Kids are spontaneous and unplanned. Work rarely is.

  10. Don’t be an asshole. If you need to leave the house and work from a coffee shop or hotel lobby to avail of their free wi-fi for the day then be considerate. This means working quietly in a corner, regularly ordering food and drink and leaving a tip. It does not mean spreading yourself out, having booming work calls on your phone and ordering nothing but a tea. As my mother says; be nice, it costs nothing.