Key learning outcomes:

  • Implement a daily routine so you are productive, can avoid distractions and remain in regular contact with your colleagues and clients.
  • Create a professional working environment that enables you to separate your work from your personal life.
  • Develop a program of regular technology improvements to maximise your effectiveness and productivity.
  • Adopt some healthy habits that include sensible food options and regular exercise.


Many smaller businesses can be run effectively from home; and more and more we are seeing employees of large companies wanting more flexible working arrangements that allow them to work remotely from home. Working from home can seem like an attractive option and there are certainly some real advantages such as flexibility, savings in commute time and no need for expenses such as dry cleaning along with potential  tax benefits from using your home as your office.

However, there are some pitfalls that need to be avoided in order to ensure productivity remains as high as possible. Working from home can create additional challenges such as  distractions and a lack of social contact which can affect motivation. Use this guide to ensure you make the most out of working from home.

Get dressed for work

One tip for working at home successfully that you will see over and over again is to get dressed as if you are going to work. It may be tempting to stay in you pyjamas and slippers, but getting dressed will help to shift your mindset from home to work. This is not to say you need to get dressed into a suit and tie as you might have done in the office; however, getting dressed even into jeans and a t-shirt helps you to swap over to work mode.

Have a dedicated workspace

Having a space dedicated to work will also allow you to switch into a productive mindset. Ideally you want to have everything at your fingertips so you are not rummaging around the house looking for a pen, your laptop charger or notes, and ideally you should try to make the space away from your bed or the TV. If you are living in a small space and need to use the area for several purposes, look for some of the great storage options available today that will allow you to literally pack up your office at the end of the day.

Get out of the house

Working from home can be isolating, so it is important that you get out and about on a regular basis. Where possible organise face-to-face meetings with clients or colleagues. Networking groups can be a great way for micro business owners to share ideas with other like-minded individuals. Even going to a coffee shop with wi-fi on a regular basis can help make you feel like you belong to a wider community.  Try scheduling in some time each week or fortnight for a nice social lunch or coffee catch-up to ensure you maintain connections with work colleagues and friends.

Have regular office hours

Flexibility is one of the key advantages of working from home as you are not limited to a 9-to-5 routine. However, we know that work will expand to the time that you give it, so it is important to set yourself some regular office or work hours. You do not want your work and home life to blend into one. Creating some guidelines will help to avoid this.

Set some ground rules

When you work from home you find that friends or relatives will think you are readily available for a chat or a visit. It is important that you set up some ground rules as soon as possible. Perhaps sit down with your family and friends and explain how you are going to structure your week. It is important that they understand that you may be at home, but you are working. If you use a separate home and office phone, turn the home number off or put it on messagebank during your office hours.

Don’t be a stranger

If you are working remotely for a large company, it is important that you check in often. It is easy for those back in the office to imagine you with your feet up watching the latest episode of your favourite TV show. It is important that you ensure that the work you do is visible to those back in the office. A regular Skype session, email update or visit to the office will ensure that you are not forgotten.

Embrace technology

Given the developments in technology, working from home is now an option for almost everyone. It is important that you ensure that your technology is working for you. Keep your equipment up to date and make sure that you upgrade when necessary. Virtual meeting software and applications such as Skype will allow you to participate in meetings just as though you were in the office. Remember if you are using Skype, ensure the image that you broadcast is professional and is not one that shows your unmade bed or unwashed dishes.

Timing is everything

If you are working from home so you can spend time with your young family, you might find that their schedule and that of your client or boss do not always match up. Planning is crucial, and it might be wise to think about using childcare for times when you need to participate in a conference call or for you have a deadline that cannot be missed. Ensure there is no distracting background noise during phone and conference calls. It is not professional or appropriate for clients or colleagues  to hear  ‘Dora the Explorer’ playing in the background!.

Housework is not a priority

Having a tidy work environment is important and working from home will mean that you can keep on top of household chores like popping a load of laundry on or emptying the dishwasher. It is important, however, that these tasks are kept to a minimum. You will waste minutes, hours and days if you do not manage and plan your time effectively. Managing your time and distractions can be difficult in an office environment, and even more so at home.

Stay healthy

A common complaint for those that work from home is that they pile on a few extra kilos. This is understandable as incidental exercise such as walking to the bus or up the stairs to get to work is no longer necessary. Additionally, the refrigerator or snack cupboard is available all day, every day. Try to stick to regular meal times just as you would in an office and resist the urge to snack between meals. Make sure you stock up on healthy options such as fruit, nuts and salads to avoid reaching for a chocolate bar. Keep up a regular exercise routine. It has been scientifically proven that exercise in the morning or during the day will increase productivity, and working from home makes this an easier option.

Working from home can offer some real benefits and will allow you to create a working environment that is tailor-made for you. If you decide to work from home, we strongly recommend you consider our top 10 tips to ensure that you start off on the right foot. The freedom and flexibility that working from home can offer can result in some bad habits if you don’t plan and exercise discipline. If you are already working from home, use this list to identify any areas that you might be able to improve on.

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