6 tips for working from home effectively

It’s great to be able to work from home. It helps you an opportunity to get away from some of the stress of a busy office and complete tasks in a relaxed setting. In fact, it is so great that data from the ONS shows that 4.2 million people worked remotely in 2015, a number that is only expected to grow.

If work in an office on a regular basis, it’s nice to have the social interaction, teamwork and camaraderie that comes with being in an environment with other humans. However, while being around your friends and colleagues is great, people can sometimes distract from the task at hand. Your coworkers stopping off at your desk, engaging you in conversation and inviting you out for lunch are all fine – but a theft of time.

Having said that, when working at home, the responsibility to be productive rests on you, and it is can be easy to become your own worst enemy. Without the watchful eye of your line manager, it could be tempting to Google your own name or take an extended lunch break to watch finish off that new series you’ve been binge-watching on Netflix.

So, if your manager has given you the luxury of working from home, you want to be sure you don’t ruin the opportunity. With that in mind, here are a couple of tips on how to effectively work while at home.

Have the right tools for the job

Working from home might seem like a great idea, but it will be a frustrating experience without the appropriate tools. You’re going to have a tough time if you open up your laptop for the day and find you don’t have the crucial files you need to get your work done.

Luckily in those scenarios, technology can come to your rescue. For example, Serval Hosted Workspaces provide you with a secure environment that contains all your apps, files and emails in the cloud. All you need is an internet connection and you can continue working as if you are still in the office at your desk.

As whatever you work on in the office can immediately be replicated at home, you don’t have to remember to save those important files at the end of the day on a USB stick.

Interested in how Hosted Workspaces can make your team more efficient at working remotely? 

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Plan ahead

Our minds are filled with thoughts. With so much going on, it is possible to get drowned out and forget important things. You could be working on an important presentation only for an email from your coworker to arrive and steal your attention away.

Think about the tasks you need to complete in a day. Begin with the one that is most important. This should be a task that you would be satisfied with completing, even if you completed nothing else.

Then, look at your other tasks and prioritise them. For particularly big tasks, it is worth breaking down into parts – this way they won’t seem as daunting.

We suggest that you take five minutes to plan out your tasks for the next day the night before. Doing this will not only mean you have clear objectives the moment your alarm goes off, but it may also help you sleep better without those objectives floating around in your head.

If you are looking for assistance with this, the Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change is a great tool.

Get into the working mind-set early

As humans, we need to get into the right mindset in order to perform a particular task. Kicking off with your to-do list as soon as possible is the most effective way of doing that. Set your alarm for a reasonable time, get up and out of bed and begin a task before doing anything else. You can then get breakfast and a coffee once you have started your work.

The act of completing the tasks you assigned for your day will remind you that do not have a day off and are at work. Additionally, it ensures that you don’t pad out your breakfast time by watching re-runs of Top Gear on Dave!

Getting into the working mindset can also be helped if you dress up. While you do not need to out all out in a full suit and tie, you should not be tempted to work in your pyjamas. The way you look often dictates the way you feel, and if you feel lethargic, you are more likely to be lethargic.

Use a schedule, and take breaks

Effectively use your calendar. For example, by scheduling in everything important (that includes picking the kids up from school and walking the dog), creating personal events and setting reminders, you will break up your day into manageable chunks which will, in turn, help you to continue focus.

The Pomodoro technique is a great help for this. It involves breaking down your time into 25 minute chunks. Throughout those 25 minutes, you should immerse yourself in a particular task, ensuring you do not lose focus (after all it’s just 25 minutes). Then, at the end of your 25 minutes, you should take a short break. Take a walk around your house or make yourself a drink. Upon returning to your desk, begin the process again.

Many successful individuals trust the Pomodoro technique as a way to help keep the focus on tasks. Furthermore, it will give insight into how long your tasks are actually taking you. If you find this is too long, break them down further. There are many apps like Forest which give you helpful visual aid for this technique.

Choose a dedicated workspace

And no, your sofa doesn’t count. Choosing a dedicated area in your house to work and be productive will ensure you are in the right frame of mind for completing work.

The area should be cleared of clutter and distractions, as well as have as much natural light as possible. It goes without saying but a cluttered, dark environment will not help with hard work.

Keep connected with your colleagues

While you may be working in a different location, you are not on a different planet. Collaboration is key in any successful business and having a degree of social interaction will keep you motivated as well as help you avoid cabin fever.

Microsoft Teams is great for this. It enables you to contact your colleagues instantly via direct message and even has video conferencing capabilities so you can have conversations with one or more participants – great if you are feeling isolated. Additionally, if your office uses a decent VoIP telephony system, you may be able to use your mobile phone as a desk phone. Therefore, you can make and receive calls just the same as if you were at your desk in the office.

At Serval IT Systems, we do exactly that. Microsoft Teams allows us to have real-time conversations wherever we are working and with Cloud VoIP, we can dial the extension numbers of our coworkers from our mobile phones. Therefore, working from home is seamless when coupling both with using our Hosted Workspace.


Working from home is a great privilege and gives you a lot of power to be in charge of your day. But as Uncle Ben once said: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’.

In order to remain focused and committed throughout your day, take on board some of the point listed above. You with then be left with not only a sense of satisfaction but it will mean your line manager is no longer on your back.

If working from home is something that not yet possible in your place of work, ask yourself and your superiors why. This form of working which takes you away from the distractions of the office can do wonders for productivity.

Updating your business systems to secure, cloud-based alternatives such as Hosted Workspace and Microsoft Teams will open up your employees up to a world of possibilities  – and it costs less than you think!

Please get in touch for more information.