Tribal Habits has been a remote working organisation since inception. So we have a lot of experience in how to work from home. In this article, we summarise some of our key lessons to help you work from home both effectively and safely into a ‘how to work from home checklist’.
In other articles in this series, you can check out five key tips to boost productivity while working from home and strategies to overcome the top four challenges of working from home.
Choose a dedicated ‘work from home’ workspace
Just because you’re not working at an office doesn’t mean you can’t have an office.
This is perhaps the #1 rule when you work from home. You must have a dedicated workspace at home (see the ‘How to work from home Checklist’ below for specific information on this workspace).
So rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the sofa – spaces that are associated with leisure time – dedicate a specific place or surface in your home to work.
Make that a sacred space – a space just for your work. It is critical to have a space you go specifically to work. It could be a particular table, chair, local coffee shop — someplace that’s consistently your ‘workspace.’ It helps you get into the right frame of mind to work from home.
Invest in your workspace
If you are working from home on a regular or extended basis, it is worthwhile spending a little money where it counts.
The chances are that if you are able to work from home, you are probably a ‘knowledge worker’. This means you will sit a lot. So while you should have a good computer, phone, keyboard and mouse, the most important investment will be your chair.
Obtain the most comfortable and ergonomically-correct chair you can find and afford. If you aren’t comfortable, you can’t stay focused, and you can’t stay productive.
Consider also if you need to invest in (or ask your organisation for)…
- A better laptop or computer
- A new mouse
- A new keyboard
- A docking station for your laptop
- A better computer monitor
- A phone headset
- A document holder
- A footrest
The ‘How to work from home checklist’ below includes this list of essential items.
Be your office cleaner
Things find their way into your home workspace – mail, deliveries, glasses and plates, toys. You probably also don’t have officer cleaners arrive every night to vacuum, empty bins and tidy up.
When you work at home, you become your own cleaner. And it’s a worthwhile investment. Allow a little time each day to broadly organise your workspace, and once a week book time in your calendar to tidy up (actually set aside that time).
Create a safe workspace
When you work at home, it is easy to find yourself working in a real, function house! That’s right, unlike at work, your home environment may not be designed for office work as a primary function.
You might need to spend just a little time ensuring your workspace is safe, both for you and others in your household. Here are some of the key things to consider in a home workspace.
- Sufficient space. You should not be cramped. There should be enough space around your work area to allow for correct posture.
- Adequate lighting, ventilation and noise. Your workspace should be well lit, have suitable temperature and be located away from high noise.
- Electrical safety. Your computer should be powered from a proper electrical point (with a safety switch) and no frayed cords or double adaptors.
- Slips and trips. Computer cords and rugs should not create a trip hazard. Floors should be non-slip with slow-rolling castors on your office chair.
- Children. Childcare tasks such as feeding, nappy changing, and dressing should not be performed in the designated workplace area. Where ever possible children should be located in an area beyond the immediate workplace. Potential risks from heavy, sharp or electrical items must be controlled.
In addition, your employer may also require that you take some measures to improve the safety of your work environment at home or conduct a risk assessment or safety inspection of your home workspace.
- Your organisation may provide you with a ‘How to work from home checklist’ to complete and return to them after you have inspected your home office.
- You can also download a template ‘How to work from home checklist‘. Please check with your organisation around the use of a checklist.
You may also want to consider a general review of your at-home office ergonomics to ensure your physical well-being (posture, ventilation, light) are suitable. There are many online articles about office ergonomics or ask your organisation for some online training on office ergonomics.