If you’re looking for some advice or survival mechanism when it comes to successfully working from your home, it’s generally a good idea to ask someone who was doing it pre pandemic.
Content Hive founder Lisa Bourke is a remote workplace guru. After featuring in Sunday Mail about the future of working from home, she shares with us her go-to working from home tips.
After spending ten years in the marketing and advertising sectors, in early 2020 Lisa opened her own content marketing agency. Based in Brisbane, she’s already got a team of three that are also employed under remote agreements.
Needless to say, when it comes to successfully working from home Lisa has learned a thing or two along the way - even as a busy mum of two.
Scheduled Work Time
This might sound like a no brainer, but it’s important to keep the boundaries between work and home clear. If you worked in an office in the city, would you head back in to reply to emails after dinner? We hope not, and you shouldn’t allow this at home either. Lisa knows the importance of scheduling time to work, so that every aspect of her life gets their turn in the spotlight.
“I have two young children, so sometimes juggling WFH is not the easiest. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to stop spending quality time with your kids to do ‘work stuff’, however they do understand the difference between when it’s ‘work time’ and the door is closed, vs ‘play time’ when they have my full undivided attention.”
While there’s often “ad hoc” tasks that will pop up after hours - especially if you’re running your own business - try to make a roster for yourself, and stick to it whenever possible. “Do Not Disturb” is also a useful tool to utilise on your phone in the evening, to help ensure that you’re getting a good night’s sleep.
Take A Lunch Break
You wouldn’t work through your lunch break in a corporate office, so why would you do it at home?
Sure, the temptation may be greater since the fridge is right there - but those break quotas are scheduled for a reason, so be sure to step away from your desk for a timeout.
“Even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes, I like to get outside into the sunshine for some fresh air and some vitamin D."
Don’t forget that food is our brain’s fuel. Do whatever you need to do in advance to ensure that you’re eating well while working, whether that be meal preparation in advance, a grocery shopping trip at the start of the week.
Focus Time vs Sprints
Studies have shown that our brains can only truly focus for 90 to 120 minutes at a time - right now you might even be reading this and nodding, which makes sense as to why you have the 10am slump, or your motivation collapses by midafternoon.
“I split my day up into 90 minute “focus time” task blocks and 20 minute “sprints”. The former is usually the technique I use for when I really have to concentrate on something, like a client's content strategy. Sprint time is for things like powering through tasks like replying to emails and hammering through to-do lists. I even use a timer to keep me on track!”
While we’re speaking of the importance of time management, make sure you leave some for yourself. If your day sounds like “work, eat, sleep, repeat” - you’re not getting the chance for any self-care, and run the risk of a burnout. Try to include activities just for you, such as exercise, meditation or reading so that you can “power down”.
The Right Office Space
Having a dedicated working space at home can make or break your remote employment experience. A set “nook” that you can concentrate in and close the door? Great. Trying to work from a stool on the kitchen bench? Disaster. Things like a quiet environment, an ergonomic chair, and even the right decor to help inspire you can make all the difference when it comes to working from home.
“I’m a big believer in feng shui - it might have been a coincidence, but after I repositioned the items on my desk and the layout of my office, enquiries for Content Hive packages just came rolling in!”
Either way, optimising your environment into a comfortable and motivational space, will give you the best possible advantage when it comes to nailing the WFH lifestyle.
Have A Buddy
No man (or woman) is an island, and we can only take so much of solitude - the same applies to how we work. We see the way “digital nomads” jet around the world with not much else than a backpack and a laptop, but not many speak of the isolation that can come with a remote workplace agreement. Phone calls and Zoom meetings aren’t quite the same as connecting with colleagues and exchanging ideas (and problems).
“I’m in a group with other women who also work from home. We catch up every few weeks in person, mostly just to chat about work and life. It’s important to have someone who works in a similar environment to you so that you can relate to each other, offer support and even advice when need be.”
Human connection isn’t a new phenomenon, which is why you will see “co-working” spaces popping up all over the world. Instead of lugging all of your equipment to a cafe and praying that the Wi-Fi is strong enough, these types of spaces were specifically made with the remote worker in mind.
The Bottom Line
Even with the above working from home tips, nailing the WFH lifestyle is ultimately going to vary depending on your circumstances, industry and position.
While it’s not for everyone, if you value independence and flexibility in a job - then a remote workplace agreement could be your ticket to success for a more balanced life.
Along with other WFH advocates, Lisa was feature in the Sunday Mail edition published on Sunday 16 August. The article outlines her foray into this type of work arrangement, and how it’s proven to be a saviour during the era of lockdowns and social distancing. If you are able to “make work, work for you” - what’s holding you back?
Lisa and the team at Content Hive specialise in getting brands buzzing online, with digital marketing done for you. Services available range from blog writing to graphic design to even video filming and editing, so if this is an area of your business that you’re considering outsourcing - get in touch today to schedule a free discovery call.