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How to work from home successfully

If your kitchen table is now your desk, here are a few key insights into making working from home work for you.

An illustration of a person working remotely from their home

Successfully working remotely

While being a remote worker can seem like a dream to many—with zero commute, a later start time, and even more relaxed wardrobe constraints, this laid-back and flexible workday has its own tolls.

Working from home, though you may not think it, is something of a skill—you need to find the perfect balance to get the most from yourself and your team. That means no jumping out of bed two minutes before 9am and no getting into the habit of being in your PJs all day. Dropping your standards even in these areas can have an impact on your overall working mindset, and while your environment might be different, you want your hard-working attitude to stay intact.

Remote working today is a unique challenge. You’re working anywhere that isn’t the office—at home, the park, your roofdeck. That means you could be set up in a coffee shop, a co-working space, you might just be in a different office location of your company but still remotely located to your core team. Essentially, remote working means you aren’t face-to-face with your team. Don’t take that as a negative, though, it’s perfectly possible to be a fully collaborative team without needing to be in each other’s physical presence.

Is working from home bad?

No, not at all, but given that remote working isn’t the norm for most brands, and considered the realm of the freelancer, you might wonder why the idea of remote working isn’t always an entirely positive one. The reservations your company, or any company, may have about remote working are most likely simply due to the way we’re all used to working. Conventional wisdom suggests that showing up to the office for eight hours leads to successful work days, so why reinvent the wheel?

There are many reasons people cite when they argue against remote working, if your team is debating this issue for themselves, consider the following:

Concern: We can’t securely share files outside of the office

Solution: With Dropbox secure file sharing, you can. Your account and your files are kept safe and secure, with multiple layers of security. Unauthorized access is stopped in its tracks and you can adjust your security settings to suit you and your team, including the use of two-step verification. Plus, you can access your files by PC, web, mobile, or connected third-party apps, so even if your team doesn’t have their office work station at their disposal, Dropbox still keeps them connected.

Concern: We’ll never see each other

Solution: Zoom, Slack (both Dropbox integrations), a video conference, or good old fashioned phone calls—there’s no reason you can’t stay in contact with your team just because you aren’t in the same room. Besides, when you are working and in the zone, or even reaching flow state, you’re not doing much talking anyway. Whether your office is implementing remote working or not, you should still have an instant messenger installed to let your team interact without having to wander around the office.

Concern: We can’t guarantee internet connectivity

Solution: Even the most well-connected of homes isn’t without its WiFi gripes. Luckily, Dropbox allows for working offline. So, even if your connection drops off, you can carry on working, safe in the knowledge that your files will automatically sync up again when internet is restored. This is ideal for finding your perfect work environment too as maintaining a strong connection becomes less of a priority.

Concern: The team will become complacent

Solution: This can be true of any team in any environment. The key to motivation that follows your workers no matter where they work from is a strong company culture and support structure. If your team will only work when the boss is nearby, then something has gone wrong in the way you run your office. After all, such a mentality is no better than children in a classroom.

Motivated and inspired workers shouldn’t need to be supervised, and if they do, it may suggest that they aren’t entirely confident in what they are doing, leading to procrastination. Keep morale up by staying connected, providing relevant productivity tools and ensuring everyone is clear on their goals, no matter where they are.

Remote work tips

Convinced to give remote working a go? Here’s some top tips to get it right.

Don’t switch things up too much

That means keeping the same wake-up time to start with. Sleep is a vitally important component in our overall health and mental fitness, so if you start switching a set 11pm bedtime for any time between 1–3am, the knock-on effects will soon be obvious. Aim to get at least seven to eight hours sleep a night and don’t be tempted to set a later alarm. The moment you start making allowances for what your brain associates with weekend behavior, is the moment you start disconnecting from the work mindset you’ve spent years sharpening and all those important work habits start disappearing.

Keep to your dress code

Within reason, try to dress as you would for work. Most modern offices are very relaxed on this front anyway, so taking a step down from comfy jeans and your favorite t-shirt puts you firmly in pajama territory. Comfy as that may be, it also means you’ve physically covered yourself in garments that you associate with home, relaxation, and not hard work. Put simply, you’ve not set yourself up for a strong start if you’re not even dressed correctly. You’ll be amazed at the difference your choice of wardrobe can make.

Create a commute

No one enjoys the commute, but telecommuting serves as a pivotal moment in your day. The dreary train ride, the long bus journey, unpleasant as it may be, both make a clear distinction between work and home life. Give yourself time to get into the right headspace. If you always listened to music on your commute, enjoy a few tunes for 15 minutes. If you always had a book on the go, read a new chapter. It’s all psychological to get you ready to do your best work.

Try new approaches

One of the toughest aspects of remote working is translating your traditional office work habits to your home environment, but why restrict yourself to doing what you have always done? Talk with your team, figure out what works best for everyone and see what changes you can make to work better together even when you’re apart. Also, if you’re moving towards being a fully remote company, bear in mind that core teams like human resources and finance need to be easily connected with all workers too, so make sure the company-wide communication is still flowing.

Stay active

It’s not until it’s gone that you realize how important that walk from office to station or from the desk to your break-out area really is. Remember to keep active and get out there—just because the office is gone, doesn’t mean the world has done likewise. Start and end your day with a stroll to act like a commute, and to help clear your head and get ready for the day or start to switch off.

Can work from home benefit a team?

Absolutely, a change of scenery never hurt anyone. The flexibility that remote working offers, i.e., letting you book in that plumber for your lunch hour or head to your local dentist for an afternoon appointment can also massively improve employee satisfaction and company culture.

Not only that, almost half of workers say the ability to work remotely whether full-time or part-time is high on their list of must-haves when they look for jobs. So by offering the chance to work from home and for employees to have a great work-life balance, you’ll also be attracting new talent.

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