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Make working from home work for you

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Turn your home office into a productive hub by dressing the part, utilising time-saving technology and maintaining work-life balance.

If you have the right building blocks in place, working from home doesn’t need to disrupt your productivity. Here are five tips to help you keep on top of your business, even if your new office is your lounge room.

Kensington Light House home office, Melbourne

1. Dress for success

Not wearing your pyjamas or lounge-wear while you work makes you look more professional, of course – but dressing the part can also make you feel the part. That doesn’t mean you need to put on a suit and tie, or even a pair of heels. Anything that makes you feel neat and ready to take on the day should be the basic rule of thumb.

2. Dedicate a space

Many small businesses start their life on the kitchen or dining room table. But, if your home permits, it’s a great idea to have a dedicated room that functions as an office. It might be a spare bedroom. It might be a sunroom. You could also consider putting your office in a bungalow or garage. If a whole room isn’t possible, you could create an office-nook – say, in one corner of your lounge room.

Being able to delineate your home and office space will help your mind differentiate between when it’s time to work and when it’s time to unwind. Drawing this line is important for striking a positive work-life balance. 

3. Make the most of technology

There are simple tech items you can use to increase productivity when you’re working from home – or when you’re working on-the-go.

An electronic diary that you can update from your smartphone or laptop allows you to stay on top of both virtual and face-to-face meetings. Try to schedule meetings and business calls as you would if you were working from an external office, so you can be efficient in planning your day.

Whether you’re solo or part of a team, platforms like Trello and Asana can be great tools to break down large projects into achievable tasks. Your team can have visibility of each other’s capacity and current jobs, and if you’re a one-person show, it might be helpful to track your own workload.

One way to ensure your business has an effective data back-up plan is to adopt an external cloud-based document and data storage solution. Not only does this mean you can access documents from multiple devices, it can help to keep your business cyber-secure.

4. Take breaks and get moving

You may be susceptible to working around the clock if you don’t limit your availability to business hours, or an alternative time that suits your business. Working from home gives you a great deal of flexibility, but adequate breaks can sometimes slip through the cracks. Ultimately, breaking up your day may lead to increased productivity and can help to reduce stress.

If you enjoy keeping fit, there are plenty of quick (and free) workouts available online. Try Boho Beautiful for yoga, or Fitness Blender for a range of exercise videos. If you feel like you need to clear your mind, try a meditation app such as Headspace. And if reading is your thing, pick up a book and slip into a good novel. Even a 15-minute lunch break away from your workspace can work wonders.

5. Embrace your online community

Whether it’s with your team, customers or like-minded businesses, being active in an online community can help foster connection. If you have a team, you can build your team culture online with virtual activities. Think: quirky group email threads, themed Slack channels and weekly photo competitions. Something as simple as sharing a favourite song of the week can build connections between co-workers separated by distance. If you’re solo or a duo, try joining a Facebook page or online forum relevant to your industry. There are plenty out there you can find with a quick online search.

Originally published January 21st 2015. Updated on March 27th 2020.

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