If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and becoming a self-employed HR consultant, one of the things you’re likely to do at least at first, is work from home. I’m fortunate enough to have an office in a serviced office building now, but I still work from home two or three times a week.
One of the most important things I had to do when I started face2faceHR was quickly learn to work effectively and productively from home, something which is really important when it’s your own business and your productiveness directly impacts your income.
So here are my top seven tips for working effectively from home.
Set yourself up a dedicated work space. If you’re lucky enough to have an office or study already, great. Otherwise you could consider converting a spare room, perhaps with a foldaway bed or similar so that you can still accommodate guests. If you don’t have a room you can dedicate to be your work space, there are other creative solutions. You can get desks which fit into small hallway or landing spaces, that can be closed down and shut away when not in use, for example. But if at all possible have something which means when you’re at your desk, you feel as though you are at work.
Your working day
Put a bit of structure into your day. Schedule yourself in time for breaks, or time for faffing about with washing (part of this is being realistic about what you’re likely to want to do and allowing for that), for taking the dog out, for the school run, or whatever, and arranging your work and your tasks around that. If you find you work more productively early in the morning, or later on, plan around that.
It’s easier to procrastinate or get distracted when you’re at home, and as a result, not get as much done as you might in an office. Set yourself targets for the day in whatever format works for you. It could be simple to do lists, you may prefer to allocate set times to a task to make sure it gets done, or aim for a certain quantity of work to be finished, like drafting a number of policies, or completing a number of client catch up calls. You could reward yourself for exceeding your targets if that works for you.
It’s really easy when you work from home to let the boundaries between your personal life and work life to blur, which can be very stressful. As well as creating your dedicated workspace, try to avoid the temptation to bring your laptop with you when you sit down and watch telly, just to do a few emails, or to just pop into the office to finish that letter after you’ve had your dinner. It’s more difficult these days with email on your phone, and it’s too easy to allow your work to creep into everything, so switch the laptop off, keep work emails on a separate work phone and unless you’re expecting something urgent, don’t have it with you when you’re not working.
Get out and about
Try working somewhere else for a bit. You’ll probably be going out to see clients and to other meetings relatively frequently, which is great to break up your day, but once in a while set yourself up in a quiet coffee shop or hotel lounge to work. Hot drinks on tap, usually WIFI as well, and a change of scenery. I sometimes do this if there is a hotel near a meeting – rather than leaving home in time for the meeting, I spend some time working in the hotel first.
Keep in touch
It can be isolating working from home, and you can find you haven’t spoken to anyone all day, so keep in touch with people. If you’re working as part of a consultancy this is easier as there’ll be others in the same boat that you can talk to and bounce ideas off. Avoid the temptation to do everything by email, make sure you pick up the phone sometimes so you’re talking to another person regularly.
No really. Although working from home is great because technically you could do it in your pyjamas if you wanted, it’s not actually a great idea… You’ll be more likely to be in ‘work mode’ and therefore more efficient and productive if you get dressed for work. You don’t have to be suited and booted, but dressed and ideally with shoes on.
A lot of these tips are basically about increasing your self-awareness, finding out what works for you and what makes you most productive, so make sure you notice what you are doing so that you can adjust it to suit you. Which is after all, one of the main advantages of working from home in the first place!
If you’re interested in getting more flexibility in your life and becoming a self-employed HR consultant, talk to us about the support you can get by working with face2faceHR Partners or download a prospectus.