Getting the most from homeworking
For many organisations a great deal of thought has gone into how to manage distant workers. Some have been ahead of the game for years and have used the Olympics as an opportunity to move even further forward. O2, for instance, closed its HQ earlier in the year to see how it would cope if all its staff worked remotely. For employers like Dell remote working is now the norm.
PR company Ogilvy & Mather has developed a whole agile working policy, including an initiative dubbed Come dine with me whereby remote workers get together at each other's houses to collaborate in an informal setting.
One entrepreneur, Tom Ball, has set up a service for those working remotely who don't like to or can't work in their homes. NearDesk is a network of work hubs which will allow people to avoid the commute and work near home.
But what if this is your first time homeworking more than the occasional day a week? How will you survive? Workingmums.co.uk, many of whose staff work from home, has some tips.
1. Don't overwork. Establish your hours and don't be tempted, because you are at home, to blur the lines too much between work and home. Far from being an employee's charter to skive, as Boris Johnson said, employers often find that the opposite is the case and that employees work too many hours.
2. Get yourself in the right frame of mind for work. Some people may work best in their pjs, but for many just the routine of getting dressed and feeling like you are 'going to work' can help to make you feel more in the mood to face the day. Some people even feel the need to create a "commute" time - a transition between home and work - by leaving the house in the morning, walking round the block and coming back in to work.
3. Working from home you need to be able to motivate yourself. It helps to establish some sense of routine and to get the aspect of your work you find least pleasant out of the way early on in the day.
4. If you have trouble concentrating, give yourself pitstops. Most people can only concentrate fully for short bursts and in the office you probably have breaks to chat to other colleagues, make tea, etc, plus for health and safety reasons you need to take regular screen breaks. Break up the day with some form of social interaction, for instance, chats on social media, but beware being sucked into an endless black hole of tweeting and checking tweets. To avoid this, it's a good idea to keep to two or three regular time slots for checking social media. You could also consider getting out and about, taking a laptop to the local library or Wi-Fi cafe for a change of scenery or there may be local office hubs if you want a more professional atmosphere.
5. Where possible, keep your work station separate from your home life and make sure the kids know not to touch your work materials. There's been a lot of talk recently about taking your baby to work with you following the BBC Two documentary, but homeworking with small children around is no easy thing and can be incredibly distracting plus your work may stipulate or at least expect childcare to be in place. Homeworkers are judged on output. Make sure you can meet your targets if you want to continue to work in this way.