Woman sat in home at desk with cat

Whether you work from home occasionally or you’re based at home the majority of the time, home working can be both rewarding and challenging. However, there are a number of issues to think about including both your physical safety and your emotional wellbeing. Here are some simple tips to make working from home more organised, safe and enjoyable.

A place of your own

Whatever the size of your home it’s really important to separate your work space from your living space. If you don’t have any obvious spare room, consider reorganising your home’s layout to fit in a workspace.

  • Make sure you are able to shut the door on your working life when they day is done so that you won’t associate your personal living space with work. This is crucial for your emotional wellbeing so if need be, set up your workspace in the least used room or space in your home and be sure to shut the door at the end of every working day.
  • Consider ergonomics. Office workers have the right equipment for the job and home workers are no different. Avoid using a kitchen chair but request a suitable seat for working. An ergonomically designed keyboard and work table is important too. Ask your HR team for advice and guidance.
  • Organise your workspace carefully. As we all know, being organised boosts productivity and focus. Avoid clutter, tidy your workspace at the end of every working day, and keep any personal mementoes such as photos to a minimum.

Dealing with distractions

It’s really easy to become distracted when working from home and it happens to us all from time to time. But in the end, we only end up feeling guilty, our productivity is affected, and we run the risk of letting those people down who depend on us to be available to them during working hours. There are some easy things that you can do to remain productive and focussed when working from home which ultimately benefits both you and your employer:

  • Let your friends and family know that even when you’re working from home, you’re unavailable for visits and you’ll return their calls and emails after working hours. It’s also useful to shut off your personal mobile phone during the day and put it away…out of sight, out of mind!
  • It can be tempting to tidy the house, do the dusting or throw the laundry in while you’re working. But before you know it, one thing leads to another…how many times have you started tidying only to find that the table needs polishing or the houseplants need watering? Use your lunch hour to tidy or do the laundry.
  • Many people enjoy using social media and it can be tempting to log on for ‘just a minute’ to check for updates. Ensure that your favourite websites aren’t open during the day and if you receive updates to your personal email account, disable them during working hours. Dealing with distractions is about minimising distractions in the first place.

Things to consider when lone working

Lone working can feel isolating at times, so be sure that you have the chance over your lunch break to speak to your partner, a family member of one of your colleagues. Even a five minute catch up can help you to feel reconnected.

Depending on your role, lone working can also present some physical safety issues:

  • Always let your office know where you’ll be every day especially if you need to attend a meeting or an industry event.
  • Update your online office diary every day and ensure that your colleagues have access to it. When your co-workers don’t know where you are they won’t necessarily assume that there’s a problem if you’re badly delayed or don’t show up for a meeting.
  • Keep your mobile close to hand when you’re out and about. Of course, this isn’t possible in meetings, but when you’re travelling to and from your destination make sure that your phone is ready to go if you need to call someone for help quickly.
  • If you’re meeting a client or supplier you’ve never met before, let your office know their full name, company contact details, and the start and end time of the meeting. It’s also useful to tell your partner or a friend where you’ll be. It’s not about being paranoid but is just a really sensible way to keep yourself safe.

Tidy up those cables

Most of us have so many cables at home we sometimes don’t even know what they connect to! Your home working space needs to follow the same standards as any office environment and if in doubt, ask your HR team or health and safety officer for advice. Other ways you can keep your home office safe include:

  • Keeping cords and wires off the floor and away from common traffic areas. Most work-related injuries are as a result of not noticing obstacles on the floor.
  • Check your smoke detector’s batteries every few weeks (or buy one if you’ve not got one already). Most people consider having one in the home important, but your employer will also require you to have a working one for safety reasons.
  • Don’t leave boxes or files lying on the floor. Get hold of a small bookcase or filing cabinet for this purpose. The general rule of thumb is to follow your own company’s rules for health and safety wherever you work.

You can get more information on safe home working by visiting Safe Workers.