Working from Home, Together
Updated: Mar 14, 2020
As more and more of us prepare to work from home (or increase the amount of time we spend working from home), I thought it was worth sharing a few thoughts of my own having done this on and off throughout my career. This isn't a research-informed piece or saying anything particularly groundbreaking, just a reflection on my experience.
Working from home can be incredibly productive. When in the right environment, we can achieve a deep focus that allows us to get round to the complex tasks that we next quite get round to doing. BUT, working from home over a sustained period of time can also be incredibly challenging. Without office chat and catch-up coffee with colleagues, working from home can fast becomes an isolating experience. While I'm pretty introverted and like the quiet, working from home can still become lonely and challenging. It can be difficult to 'keep going' and to retain focus.
Central to working from home well, in my opinion, is about finding a working style that suits you, but one that remains engaged and collaborative. Virtual team meetings are essential, but they often functional and more directed that an in-person meeting. Online meetings, teaching and training can be hard to deliver and to follow and requires considerable concentration and patience. It is, therefore, important that you also find time for more relaxed conversations with colleagues, whether virtually or on the phone, as well as allow yourself time to recuperate from increased digital interactions.
A change in surroundings can be particularly useful in this respect (although can feel very much like a distraction). Allow yourself to take time for coffee while not working, pop out in your garden if you can. Read on paper and write with pencil. Change the space you work in, perhaps shift to the sofa when reading or a different room. Try to take a structured approach to work, ensuring that your not allowing work to bleed into your personal time, however you might structure your day. It is incredibly easy when in a 'working from home mindset' to keep checking your email - make sure you allow yourself to switch off.
There is no single best way to work from home. The most important thing is to reflect regularly on what is working and what isn't and to ensure you balance focussed activity, with time for conversation, creativity, and change.