Seven essential tips if you have to work from home

Sky News technology reporter Alexander Martin has outlined seven essential tips for people who are currently working at home:

1. How to handle conference calls

Group meetings in-person can be difficult, but over the phone they can be absolute chaos.

Without any visual cues to signal where attention is focused, participants on group calls can end up speaking over each other for minutes on end.

It is absolutely vital that someone is chairing the meeting. This person needs to determine the speaking order and call people to speak, as well as pick up again when the speaking is finished.

All of the other participants need to join the call at the right time, and most crucially – their phones need to be on mute when they’re not talking.

2. Have a space to work in

I’m sorry to say you will need to get dressed and get out of bed. Maybe not as early as usual – the lack of a commute is always something to rejoice over – but having a space to work in is crucial for your state of mind, and not just in terms of being in a “working” mindset but also so you’re able to turn off when the working day is over.

If you have children then you will need to realise that you cannot both parent and work at the same time.

Most of the essentials for working from home are things people have already; a desk, a laptop, a work phone.

If you need access to your company’s intranet, figure out how to access it securely. External connections in without security precautions could mean that hackers go unnoticed too.

3. Have time to work in

You need to clock in and clock out. The working day for anyone in an office has commutes either side of it, but these aren’t there if you’re working from home and the risk is that the time between when you’re on-shift and when you’re off will merge into each other.

Whatever kind of communications system you’re using to keep in touch with your team, turn it on when you start and turn it off when you stop. Working outside of these hours will just grind you down.

4. Remember to eat

Remember to eat properly. This takes planning if you’re not going to find yourself dipping into the biscuit tin.

Most adults should have mastered the skill of forward-planning their meals, but the interruption to normal plans by working from home can undo that for even the most competent. Get ready to have something healthy for lunch.

5. Remember to take breaks

We can worry that we’re not being seen as productive when we’re working from home, but nobody is productive when they’re hungry.

This means you need to take a bit of a longer break to make the lunch. That is perfectly reasonable, and because you’ve planned your lunch in advance it’s not going to take as long as you thought.

6. Remember to work

Although you really shouldn’t put yourself under ridiculous pressures, you are still working.

Working from home isn’t an opportunity for friends to come round. You don’t have the time to run errands during the day that you wouldn’t be able to do normally.

Some experts suggest working in short bursts in order to maintain your sanity, this means regular breaks but it requires working too.

7. Keep in contact with your managers, and ask them to keep in contact with you

The worst aspect of remote working can be feeling ignored.

Hopefully there will be lines of communication open to your managers, colleagues and subordinates, but to make sure these are there requires forward-planning.

There should be clear expectations about how performance will differ from a normal day, whether because the office processes are a bit different or because particular jobs are going to be delegated to different teams.

One of the tactics to avoid loneliness (although some workers could well crave it) is to set up a video call with a colleague while you’re working on a shared project.