How I Manage Working from Home

Unlike most companies who were forced to work from home during ‘The Great Lockdowns of 2020’, as I’m sure they will one day be called, we actually choose to – lockdown or no lockdown we primarily WFH.

Becky Cockman
Digital Marketing Manager

An opinion piece from Becky Cockman about working from home.

Beckys commute in Sydney

I’m a glass-half-full kind of person, so lets begin with my favourite thing about working from home.

No. More. Bloody. Commuting.

There is no bigger waste of time (IMHO) than a long commute. I’ve had a variety of commutes over the years, including a 55-minute commute from Petersham in the Inner West of Sydney to North Sydney, via two trains one of which took my over Sydney Harbour each day. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful… for about a week. After that, the two hours (assuming I didn’t miss my connection) of every day that I lost felt like a huge drain on my week.

My current commute to my office – via the kitchen for tea – is soooo much better!

Although there are benefits to working from home for the company (overheads, increased productivity) and the employee (commute, every day is casual Friday, no packed lunches) you do have to be disciplined.

A company of people who don’t take working from home seriously just wouldn’t stay in business.

My Top Tips for Working from Home Effectively

Collaboration

This might seem a bit counter intuitive to be the first point about working from home by yourself, but no (wo)man is an island. You must make sure you have the tools in place to keep in constant communication with your team. No matter how solo your workload is, other members of your team might need your help. 

We use an instant messaging service called Slack, because emails are so 2010. We have streams dedicated to the different clients and topics so we can keep the conversations about different pieces of work separate – and it’s not always about work! It can be lonely working from home alone all day, so a little chat and sharing of dog pictures with your colleagues is important to staff morale as well as to productivity. 

SPACE

When you’re working from home it can be difficult to shut off your home life. My fiancé and my dog are usually around, wanting attention. I have an office, just for me to work, where the only reason to visit is to bring gifts of tea or report important information. Or, in the dogs’ case, sleep. 

I also find working a lot easier in this room than say, the lounge, as that’s where I’d go when my brain is relaxing. It’s hard to get fired up to write 800 words from the sofa when the TV is just over there, looking at you, waiting to be turned on.

Desk Risers

oFFICE sET uP

I have quite an elaborate set up, because I am somewhat nerdy, and need two screens in order to do some of the more technical work that I need to do for clients. The screens are on a riser so they are at eye level, which also gives a lovely shelf for all my desk friends to inhabit. 

My chair is at the right height to have my knees and elbows at roughly right angles. I have a webcam and good microphone, so recording SEO report videos for clients is a breeze. I also have a VOIP phone so I can easily pick up the phone to clients or the team – but usually it’s a message or a Zoom video call really. 

Flexibility

I love how flexible working from home can be, we don’t have set lunchbreaks so you can just take the day as it comes. We plan our time around a 9 – 5:30 working day, as that’s when our clients need us, but if there’s a reasonable excuse then that’s flexible. There’s no need to take a whole day off to see the dentist, you can just extend your lunch and work a little later. 

It’s not just the hours, but also the work. It’s important when you work from home to be entirely self-managed and self-motivated. 

We often don’t have hard deadlines for individual tasks so if I’m feeling creative, I can work on some blogs or redesign part of a clients’ site that needs attention. If I’m really on the ball I can spend the day optimising websites for search engines.

Socialising

Although working from home is more productive, mostly because there are less social distractions, that in itself can be an issue. Working in a traditional office takes you out of the home, into a shared social space with a variety of characters. We would normally meet in a shared office space at least once a month, but due to COVID this year we've had long stretches of working from home with no contact.

Sonder team having a social day

Humans are social creatures and although me and the team chat every day via Slack and sometimes on Zoom before or after meetings, it’s not the same as sitting in the same room as other humans for 8 hours a day. 

I’ve found this one easy to resolve by simply adding more social activities to my out of work life. It’s easy to find time, now you’ve saved yourself those commuting hours, to join a club or take up a hobby. 

When we aren’t in lockdown I go to a yoga class once a week and go to the gym two or three times a week. Instead of waiting for the weekend to see people, arrange activities during the week, it's the best way to keep your social human side happy when working from home.

So that’s how I manage working from home, by tackling some of the small issues I get to enjoy my one minute commute and I haven’t had to pack a lunch for almost a year! 

Posted by Becky Cockman on December 21st 2020

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