Local award-winning building company Kisiel Group share their top tips on how to create the perfect home office.
Well many of you reading this will have discovered a new acronym last week – ‘wfh’ – meaning you will have changed your usual routine from commuting to the office to working from home. If you are new to ‘wfh’ you have probably previously thought that this was a great idea and envied colleagues who have been doing it for some time – with the image of staying in your pyjamas and using your laptop whilst lying in bed or relaxing on the sofa.
The reality is very different, and it can be quite a culture shock to ‘wfh’. For most of us the recent changes have not been through choice but necessity – and lack of contact with colleagues face-to-face can make you feel quite isolated. For those of you with children, this week has become more complicated as you try to juggle work with childcare.
Annie, director at your local award-winning building company Kisiel Group, has over the years worked from home and understands the reality. Here are her insights into how you can make ‘wfh’ work for you.
1. Setting Boundaries
You need to set some ground rules from the beginning to make ‘wfh’ successful. Get yourself into a routine so that you are psychologically ready for work.
So, set your alarm – you can allow yourself to set the alarm time a bit later as you no longer have a commute to work. Follow your normal routine and get dressed and be ready to start work at a designated time. This is essential otherwise you can find that time drifts and slips away.
It is not ideal to set up in the kitchen or on your dining table as you will get interruptions from others in the house or apartment, especially if you have young children trying to grab your attention with ‘What are you doing?’ every few minutes. It is better to set up in a spare room or in an attic room where you can shut the door, and everyone knows the rule – ‘do not disturb’.
2. Setting Up Your Office Space
How you set up your workspace is important – after all this you are not just spending half an hour on your computer or laptop surfing the internet. You will be spending many hours at your new workstation. In your office your company will have set up your office workstation with health and safety in mind and probably given you a desk top assessment.
Look after your own health – and do your own assessment so that you are sitting in a position that is good for your posture and eyesight. You need to be comfortable so here are a few basics:
- Chair – You are unlikely to be able to bring your office chair home, so carefully choose one of your own chairs. Ideally you need to find one that supports your lower back. Arm rests are a bonus and if you are able to adjust the height then all the better so that you can place your feet flat on the floor.
- Table – you should be able to sit at the table or desk so that your elbows are close to your body and you don’t overstretch. You need to rest your arms on the table surface and use the keyboard or mouse without having to bend your arms at the wrist.
- Computer or laptop screen – ideally place your screen so you are not facing a window or have a window behind you to avoid eye strain from glare on the screen. If you still have light reflection on the screen, ensure you can adjust a blind or curtain or get an anti-glare screen filter fitted.
3. Planning Work
We all know the saying – ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’. So, plan your day and your priorities just as you would do if you were working from the office. Maintain set hours even if you are a bit more flexible working around family commitments than you would be in the office. So long as you plan, you could stop working at 4.00pm for a couple of hours and resume later in the in evening for an hour of so if that fits in with the requirements of your job.
Make sure clients and colleagues are aware of your schedule as there is nothing more frustrating when you can’t get hold of someone when you expect they are working. Do pick up the phone and speak to colleagues to avoid feeling isolated – remember a lot of people are ‘wfh’ for the first time and everyone needs to still feel connected to the team. If you manage a team, this can be difficult as you cannot see what everyone is doing – so engage with them through video links which is a good way to connect all the team for a meeting.
4. Your Health
Look after your health when ‘wfh’. Make sure you take regular breaks from working at a computer screen so your eyes can focus better, and you change your posture. You won’t have the usual prompt of someone offering to make a coffee in the office, so set an alarm on your mobile at regular intervals during the day. Mind you – not too many coffees! And don’t forget to eat!
You need to get up from your chair and move around during the day. You no longer have your routine of walking to the station, bus or underground for your commute to work. Going for a walk or run for your daily exercise, walking round your garden or at least opening the window will mean that you get some fresh air.
If you find it a bit quiet working alone, just find some inspiring music to play in the background.
It is so easy to get absorbed in work during the day and then find that you have worked past your normal hours as you do not have the prompt of other people packing up in the office and leaving to go home. So be aware of the time towards the end of the day.
A few things to think about.
Ensure your computer is set up securely and that any data is being backed up – you probably take it for granted in the office that these things are being done and the last thing you want is to lose the work you have done during the day.
Set yourself realistic goals. You may well find that you are more productive without the usual interactions with office colleagues, but it is all too easy to feel isolated. So, pick up the phone and have a real conversation if you need to. Your colleagues also ‘wfh’ may be quite grateful to hear from you as well.
Annie says that you can make ‘wfh’ work for you, but it may take a little while to adjust to a new way of working. She is now back ‘wfh’ as the Kisiel Group team are working remotely where practical. It is a rapidly changing world for all of us at the moment. We are all going to be spending more time in our own homes and Kisiel Group wish you all the best with these adjustments to your working life.
Contributor: Kisiel Group | The Award-Winning Design & Build Practice
Kisiel Group is a multi-award-winning building contractor in London that offers design and build services, home renovations, refurbishments and consultancy. For advice and guidance on your next home-build project, ring +44 (0)20 3984 7410 or email firstname.lastname@example.org