How to Work From Home Effectively {Ten Tips}

Author: Lisa Soeno

When I left uni I applied for a job which would’ve entailed working solely from home. My dear auntie tried to persuade me not to go for it: “You’re too young to be spending the whole week on your own in the house. You need human contact, to get out there and see the world!”. I nodded my head diligently but I had set my heart on applying for the position. I didn’t get the job, and was so disappointed about it, but looking back I can see that my auntie’s words were wise, and I doubt that the twenty-year-old-me would have flourished working from home in a full time job.

But now I’m in my thirties, in a long-term relationship, with two kids and it’s a different kettle of fish. Working from home/working flexibly is almost essential, and more and more employers seem to be offering the option to work some of the week at home rather than in the office.

I don’t miss the having-to-wear-tights or the rush hour crawl/bus journey with dubious characters that comes with working in an office. What I do miss is being able to nip into Topshop at lunchtime, or to Pret to grab a chicken avocado sandwich, and I really miss my Tuesday Stylist magazine fix. (Yes I know you can read it online, but it’s just not the same). But what I miss the most is the banter that comes with working in an office. (Not a fan of the word banter but in this context it’s totes appropes). As such number three of the following tips is an important one for me.

1. Get dressed.

I know, I know. Working in your pjs and slippers is one of the perks of working from home, right? Well no, not always. If I’m in a creative/efficiency slump it always helps if I get my ass into the shower and get dressed for the day. Much less embarrassing when Mr Hermes parcel delivery guy comes to the door too.

2. Make a to do list.

How satisfying is it when you can tick stuff off your list? Mine is an extremely cute specialised To Do List notepad from Kikki K which even has a section for recording your water intake. (I’ve popped some paper pretty into the Shop The Post below, as well as a wire storage wall grid which claims to be a bathroom storage product but would also look ace in an office).

3. Use Google Hangouts.

As my auntie said, we need human contact! We are pack animals and social interaction is so important. I find myself in a bit of a zombie daze by 5pm if I’ve gone the majority of the day without speaking to real life people. This is where technology such as Google Hangouts come in. Just a couple of clicks and your colleagues are there on the screen in front of you.

4. Make your working from home space appealing.

This is one that all you fellow interiors lovers will appreciate. You’re going to be more productive if your workspace is somewhere you enjoy spending time. And if your other half asks why you have spent £549 on the dream desk you can blame me.

5. Work to music if needs be/Block out that noise.

When I was seventeen and studying for my A Levels I found I worked more effectively if I had the radio on in the background. However these days I need complete silence to be able to concentrate. Which makes it interesting when Lyra is off on her school hols and my mum-in-law is looking after her downstairs. My initial tactic of wearing earmuffs to block out the noise was not fruitful (I was desperate), but when I had the brainwave of moving my desk temporarily into a different room it worked wonders as I could no longer hear the noise of everyone downstairs.

6. If it’s sunny get out there.

That vitamin d is important, peeps! So if you’ve got the benefit of being able to work flexibly, take half an hour to soak up that sun.

7. Feng Shui your office.

I know Feng Shui hasn’t been trendy for a good few years now but a lot of its principles strike a chord with me. For example, the rules about a good ‘flow’ of energy inside the home. Previously, my desk was located just to the right of the entrance inside our spare room. I had my back to the window, and the desk faced a blank wall and blocked the ‘flow’ into the room. It annoyed me so much that one Saturday I spent all morning heaving around the furniture and now the desk is now sitting pretty on the far wall, and the entrance to the room is unimpeded. I swear I am all the more productive for it.

8. Use Slack.

For those who have never heard of Slack, it’s the workplace equivalent of MSN Messenger. (Ahh, MSN Messenger, I miss those days). Slack is brilliant for banter (sorry, there it is again), knocking around ideas and sharing files. I also love the motivational little quips that it fires at you when you log in like, ‘Remember to get up and stretch once in a while’, and ‘Alright world, time to take you on!’

9. Stock up on snacks.

It is so tempting to go raiding the kitchen cupboards. I try and keep a bowlful of nuts/chopped up fruit/something vaguely healthy on my desk so I’m not tempted to eat my weight in bread.

10. Lock Your Kids Out…

…So they don’t disturb you/interrupt your important BBC interview. (I’m joking!).

Would you have shared my auntie’s viewpoint?

Do you have the benefit of being able to work from home? Do you have any other tips?

  • Kikki K To Do List
  • John Lewis Desk Lamp
  • Next Wire Caddy
  • John Lewis Shalstone Desk
Author: Lisa Soeno
Lisa is obsessed with all things interior design. And Cadbury buttons.
Follow Lisa on instagram @lisa.soeno
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22 thoughts on “How to Work From Home Effectively {Ten Tips}

  1. I work solely from home, I occasionally have to travel to London or into Birmingham, but that’s very rare. I’m not sure how I’d cope with the commute I did previously for 11years now, before I had children, although there are certain things I do miss, like shopping in my lunch hour, going out for lunch & cakes in the office! I agree with you though that now that I have children it’s a perfect arrangement!

  2. I don’t work from home that often but when I do I have to make sure the house is empty and my employers working from home policy requires me to demonstrate I have childcare for those days and have a suitable workspace. Which is good. I think I would resent colleagues who took the proverbial if I was in the office.

    My original plan with this job was 4 days in 4 but when the kids start school to drop down and do 5 shorter days (but keeping my four day hours) to allow me to do either drop off or pick up once or twice a week and have one of those days WFH. In reality though I don’t know if I can. I need my secretary on hand (scanning stuff into her takes time and then I have to call to check she’s seen it etc. rather than me handing it over). For me it’s a time issue of the delay of scanning, sending, signing, scanning etc. I have to be quite ruthlessly efficient and the delay in admin tasks with home working drives me a bit insane. And it’s not cost or time effective for me to do those jobs myself. I need technology to catch up a bit.

    No bloody way will I be getting dressed though. For sure.

    1. The employers requiring you to demonstrate you have childcare is an interesting one…do you just let them know where your kids are going to be when you’re wfh?

      1. I had too when I asked for different hours ready for September. I work from home but has to be a working environment so when I said Zach would be there had to say that he would be with hubby not me

      2. I have to have childcare in place and demonstrate that before they approve WFH.

        Obviously if I’m usually at work I’d have childcare in place anyway so its not an issue.

        I have worked from home when they are sick but what that has effectively meant is getting up and working 4-7am and then logging on again when my husband gets home to cover the rest of my workload. That’s not ideal WFH and I’d not encourage staff to work like that. Whilst flexibility is key, we need to be around during business hours to engage with each other. Otherwise it doesn’t work for business need and there is more delay.

        The grass is not always greener. Since having kids those long walks around the shops at lunchtime haven’t happened. I’d rather work through, get the work done and free up time with the family. So don’t assume all us office workers have time to go to the loo or make tea or mooch around M & S Food either anymore!

  3. I always found I was a bazillion times more efficient working from home- no wandering to the break room, no customer calls, and people can’t physically see you so there’s a lot less “oh, Lucy, can you do me a huge favour” piling on- you can actually do your work! But then I was coming off the back of 3 years home working during my PhD, which is a hard grounding in self motivation. I learnt then that I am much better off starting early, grabbing a snack lunch at my desk (or chaise longue, which is where I loved to work from home as it made me feel very Victorian) and then by 3pm be outside for a walk or run or gardening as my brain is just shot by that time! I only wish flexible working was more flexible- sticking around until 5 when you know you are more likely to make mistakes and your work isn’t as good seems so counter productive. Although these days I can only work when the kids are in bed so all my beloved routine has gone out of the window!

    1. It’s all about knowing when you work best, isn’t it! Loving the image of you working from your chaise longue 🙂

  4. Or there’s the option of renting a space at a co-working office a couple of days a week.

    Shameless plug for the beehive co-working lofts in Manchester! My cousin runs it with her partner and they’ve just expanded into 2 floors and it’s very insta chic with various clubs and activities for users to get involved with: book club, yoga, shared breakfasts, quiz night….

    1. I hadn’t considered this option but it’s such a good shout. Can I come and work at your cousin’s place please?

      1. Katie and Steve actually have space and are looking at new ways of spreading the word about the lofts so a quick Google should find their business contact details!

  5. Love this post Lisa! I work from home on occasion and am actually WAY more productive when I do. My two wfh nemesis(es?) are tea and washing. If I hit a block, I’m always so tempted to go and make yet another cup or to throw on, hang out, fold and/or put away washing. Maybe not such a bad thing for a brain break, but it feels terribly naughty not to be chained to my desk all day.

    1. Thanks Naomi 🙂

      Hanging out washing is one of my favourite things to do these days. SO rock and roll!

  6. This is such a relevant post for me after leaving my teaching job to go self employed.. I do miss talking to real people (but would not go back) I joined the gym and I’m taking a couple of art classes to get my social fix in the week!

    1. How exciting Sally! What are you doing now?

      Yes that social fix is so important. Sounds like you’ve got it sorted x

  7. I work from home and its also specified in my contract that childcare must be in place; but in reality we don’t provide evidence. Its just known that having children at home would be against policy. When they are sick, snow days etc there is flexibility so long as people don’t take the p!ss and ruin it for everyone!
    I do miss get dressed up to go to the office and I miss the chat….but with small children it makes life a lot less stressful. I can do the school run and start work straight away, no commute. I can finish work at 5pm and have dinner ready by 5.30pm, get washing on in my coffee break etc.
    Its important to have a defined workspace you can close the door on and I do try to make that ‘switch’ when I log off and not contstantly run upstairs to check emails. My husband has banned my lap top from leaving my office and he gets VERY annoyed if I go in there at the weekend, lol!

    1. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. And you’re right – the defined workspace is an important one x

  8. Great tips, Lise!

    On busy days when I have loads to get done, I wear tights and leave my shoes on after the school run.

    Something about that seems to pull me out of slouching around mode and into “work mode” in a way PJ’s and slippers just can’t. Weird.

    How much do I NEED the gorgeous desk now? And that wall storage! 😍

  9. I work from home 3-4 days a week – I’m very lucky that my company is very flexible – i do miss being in the office more regularly for chat and the people – I live on my own so sometimes I can feel a bit stir crazy at the end of a long day when i havent actually seen another person even though i have spoken to loads of people over the course of the day. I do my social during the week now with running club – makes me finish on time 2 days a week 😀 I have my own home office and it makes me so much more productive than i ever was working at the dining table – and my rule is i have to get properly dressed for work – which makes my weekend pj lounging all the more enjoyable 😀

  10. Reading these comments have confirmed what I already know. I am really bad at working from home! I left a job in retail to finally use my degree and start sewing for a living but I’m the biggest procrastinator. I am so easily side tracked by housework or my attention seeking ever demanding labrador who wants to play ball in the back garden every time i go downstairs , housework or if I dare put the telly on then it’s all over. I need to work on being more productive as I can’t sit and sew all day ( kills my back & eyes ) so need to work smarter and not get distracted.. on a side note I love not having to commute anymore but can feel really isolated at times so my social time was water areobics twice a week but the time was smack bang in the middle of the day. Might take on some of these pointers

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