Whether you’ve gone freelance, are working for yourself or have set up a new flexible working agreement for a part of your week, here’s how to make it work for you
1. Start the day right
If you don’t have to leave the house first thing to do a nursery or school run, it can be tempting to start working as soon as you get up. ‘You may find that you feel more in work mode and are more productive if you make a point of getting up, showering, having breakfast and even changing into proper clothes so you look the part rather than sitting in your pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms,’ says Mandy Garner, editor of workingmums.co.uk.
2. Create a work space
Make it distinct from the rest of the house and try not to let the children near it. ‘Some people find they need to make a physical distinction between work and family life even if they work from home,’ says Mandy. ‘They might go for a walk round the block or have a shed office so they feel they have "travelled" to work.’
3. Set up your virtual office
Before you get set for flexible working or working from home, make sure you’re technology is up to scratch. ‘This could be looking at your broadband speed and ensuring it’s fast enough or ensuring that your computer (if your work don’t provide one) can cope with all the work you need to do,’ says Mandy.
Make use of basic technology like Instant Messenger and Skype to stay in contact with the office on a regular basis or so you have can have virtual meetings.
4. Manage being alone
If you’ve been used to working in a busy office, and now find yourself spending half your week alone at home, you may end up feeling isolated. ‘If you can, try to get out of the house at least once a day and interact with other people,’ says Mandy. ‘This could be doing a bit of work at a local coffee shop or public library. And find out if there are any local business hubs. These have the collaborative atmosphere of an office, but are for anyone who needs office space. It can be a great way to network, too.’
5. Find your childcare support network
It’s difficult to work if you’re also trying to look after children, no matter how placid they are. ‘But if you are self-employed and can't afford regular childcare, see if you can network with friends and family to offer some support when you might need it,’ says Mandy. Other parents on your street may be in a similar position and you can take it in turns to do childcare. Otherwise, you could try and schedule a phone call for when your toddler is going down for his nap, as it will be quieter then.
6. Decide on manageable work goals
If you’re splitting your time between the home and office, your line manager should set manageable targets for the work he or she expects you to do and have regular meetings so that you know you are achieving them and what can be done to ensure that you meet them.
7. Don't go OTT
Despite the traditional belief that “working from home” is just code for having a hangover and a cheeky skive, more often than not, it’s the complete opposite. ‘Avoiding the morning and afternoon commute and the lack of office distractions and meetings that drag on, can mean you work solidly through the day. ‘Try to keep fairly regular hours as there can be a tendency when you are at home to not take regular breaks or clock off at a normal time,’ says Mandy. And once your children are home – make your focus about them. You can always return to email-checking once they’re tucked up in bed.
Do you work from home? What’s your secret to making it work for you? Let us know below.