Working from home versus being home-based: is there a difference?
Oh yes! As a busy Head of HR, I used to cherish my working from home days; the team only rang if they really needed to, I got so much done. I was in my element. I would shut myself away in our home office, perhaps a bit of Classic FM but usually silence. I would have a big piece of work or key aim in mind and by the end of the day I’d usually cracked it.
Occasionally I would lose track of time and still be beavering away when I should be exercising or getting the evening meal ready. However, most ‘WFH’ days would be a master-class of productivity that any ninja* would be proud of.
Now I am a self-employed HR Consultant in beautiful Herefordshire and I am home-based. I had heard that many people really struggle with this; the separation of work and home life, using household chores as a distraction, etc. I have not had any trouble with the latter! In fact, I forget to do the housework and laundry at all, because every day seems the same when you work for yourself.
So here are a few tips for fellow home-based newbies from my limited experience so far:
- Set your working hours. It doesn’t matter what they are and, of course, you will need to be flexible. If your job or business requires you to do some invoicing one evening or write a blog on a Saturday afternoon, do it, but give yourself some much-needed down time. Preferably, set your hours in advance, so you can focus on what you need to achieve by when, then reward yourself afterwards with a good book or a glass of something!
- Schedule your body to move and keep hydrated. There is much well-documented research about how bad it is for your health to sit for long periods. It is so easy to get wrapped up in something and, before you know it, you have been sitting at your desk or breakfast bar for hours on end. We are lucky, we have great walks from our door. Even a round trip to the village shop takes in some lovely scenery, a few sheep and plenty of friendly neighbours who will keep you chatting in the street. Even if it’s a 15 minute blast up and down the stairs or some vacuuming, make sure you move regularly and keep your glass of water topped up.
- Socialise and network. At Marches BC we do, at least, have each other to talk to but as a husband and wife team we also need outside social stimulation! I attended a great network meeting last week: Women In Rural Enterprise (WIRE) in Ludlow. It was so good to meet other women business owners and get to know some local people in our new home town. We discussed the important topic of GDPR and got plenty of mutual moral support. I came back to my home office buzzing with ideas about a new workshop I would like to offer. It’s nothing to do with GDPR; hooray I hear you cry! However, I think the stimulation of networking got my creative juices flowing. More on my new workshop idea later.
- Stress less. I am sure I am not alone in this: I used to find a busy corporate office environment quite stressful just to be in. Big deep breath when you get in the door; noise, bustle, “can I just grab you?” before you’ve even taken your coat off. Being home-based takes that away as a daily occurance. I am not saying the job is less stressful just because you are doing it from your own home. You still have a workload and tight deadlines, even without a boss looking over your shoulder. However, make sure you make the most of the calm, the commute-free morning and the freshly ground coffee. Stress less, and you will do your best work, and do it more productively.
I need to point out that I don’t always follow my own advice! I would love to hear your tips and reflections. Happy home-working.
*Check out Graham Allcott’s great book “How to be a productivity Ninja”.