As the world of work continues to change, employees and job seekers are prioritising flexible hours and working structures more and more – and businesses are having to work this into their strategies in order to remain relevant and competitive when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
A recent study by Regus found that worldwide, an average of around 52% of workers telecommute regularly – in South Africa, this figure rises to 56%, to 59% in the USA, and in Argentina to more than 60%. “While the trend is in it’s infancy in South Africa, many businesses are looking to offer more flexible solutions for their employees,” notes ManpowerGroup South Africa’s MD Lyndy van den Barselaar.
“Working remotely, especially from home, can be a difficult task for some in the beginning – especially if one is used to working within a structured office environment,” says van den Barselaar. For those taking advantage of this solution, ManpowerGroup South Africa offers some specific advice on how to make a success of working remotely.
Create a work schedule
* Set a work schedule, create a routine and stick to it.
* Take lunch and coffee breaks to recharge your batteries between tasks. “Sometimes, one can fall into the trap of feeling like they have to over deliver because they are not in the office. Remember to take short breaks in between tasks to avoid burnout and ensure you are able to function optimally,” says van den Barselaar.
* Include off-site meetings for some face-to-face time. “This is great for building relationships with clients, colleagues or partners,” she says.
* If you start a business, chances are you will have to work longer hours for your company to succeed, but having a work schedule helps to keep you focused.
* Let friends and family know your work schedule so they won’t interrupt you unless there is an emergency.
* Although you are working from home, do not discuss your personal life with your work colleagues – keep it professional.
Have a set office space
* Designate a specific space in your home for your office. “It is important to make the distinction between your living and working space, in order to avoid the trap of an ‘always-on’ lifestyle. Keep your personal relaxing spaces, like your bedroom and living room, separate from your workspace,” says van den Barselaar.
* Choose a space where you will have minimal interruptions. Don’t underestimate the distractions from children, pets, TV and household chores.
* Store all work-related files, reference materials and supplies in that space. Better yet, go paperless, by scanning hard copies of documents using tools such as Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive.
* Each Sunday, create a list of all the activities you have to accomplish for the upcoming week.
* Each night, create a to-do list of all the tasks you have to complete the next day, starting with the most to the least important.
* Create a filing system to help you be your most productive self.
* Organise your office space in a manner that facilitates your best work. Have the items you use most frequently within reach.
Have the right equipment
* Invest in equipment that will enable you to do your job effectively and efficiently. “If you have video meetings with your manager each week, for example, make sure that your computer has the right camera, speed and memory for this,” says van den Barselaar.
* Since you will be doing most of your work on the computer, and transferring work via the Internet, make sure that you have reliable Internet and a safe connection. “Make use of a VPN if possible, to ensure the safety of your documents and information,” van den Barselaar suggests.
* Have a reliable back-up system.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
* Take time to exercise regularly. “This can seem like a task that is separate from your work life, but keeping yourself active and healthy can assist in managing stress and creating a positive work life balance,” says van den Barselaar.
“It is important to create boundaries between your personal and professional life, especially when working from home. While being productive and delivering results should be a priority, this should not come second to your personal life and a positive work life balance,” concludes van den Barselaar.