Six Tips to help you Work from Home more Successfully

First of all I’d like you to reach for a pinch of salt. I’m going to share some survey results with you. They’re about working from home. Why did I recommend a pinch of salt? Because the survey was carried out by Skype. And after all, if you’re going to make a list of who-benefits-from-working-at-home, Skype, Nescafe and Mr Kipling’s Cakes are going to be right up there…

Here’s the link if you’d like to see the results in full.

But let me summarise the key points for you:

  • Video conferencing, desktop video and VOIP are set to dramatically increase. The use of e-mail and the phone (expect to see one on Antiques Roadshow any day soon) will decrease
  • An average 62% of businesses now allow staff to work remotely
  • 56% of decision makers believe remote workers are more productive
  • And after salary and working environment, the ability to work from home is the next most important factor in job satisfaction


But they would say, wouldn’t they? Or am I being cynical? No two ways about it, working from home is an idea whose time has come. And yet it polarises opinion. Some people think it’s brilliant – an equal number think it’s a disaster. As a writer friend of mine put it:

One of the best things about being a writer is that you can work from home. And one of the worst things about being a writer is that you can work from home…

Which just about sums it up. I’d love to hear your views, because I know that a lot of TAB members do often work from home (as I do). Does it work for you? If so, how do you make it work? I like to think I manage it quite successfully, so if it helps, here are half a dozen suggestions: 

  1. You must have a designated working space: the kitchen table isn’t the answer. I’ve never yet met anyone who could work successfully from the kitchen table – just too many distractions (but if anyone knows a trick for “anchoring” the office-state-of-mind when you’re at said table, please share it).


  1. Ideally, convert the spare bedroom into a specific ‘home office’. What’s that? You were careless enough to open another bottle of red wine which led to an extra child and you don’t have a spare bedroom? Sorry, there are limits to even TAB’s advice…


  1. I don’t think hours matter. One of the great plusses of working from home is that it really allows you to work when your body-clock’s at its best. So if getting up early and starting work at six suits your metabolism, just do it. The amount you can get done before nine can be astonishing.


  1. Make sure your technology is up to speed. If you’ve a state of the art computer in the office that zips around the internet at the speed of light, you’re going to get seriously frustrated if you come home to a laptop that thinks dial-up is a bit racy – and work will suffer. And when you buy a new laptop, don’t forget the built in webcam, for those all important Skype calls.


  1. Make use of technology as well. Software such as Google Docs and Dropbox will allow you to collaborate with the hapless souls still trapped in the office.


  1. If you’re working – you’re working. The kids have to appreciate that. And by the same token, you have to be strong. No nipping out for a game of footy just because the sun’s shining.

I hope those tips are helpful – whatever you think about Skype’s survey, more and more of us are going to find ourselves working from home in the future. Talking of which, the sun’s shining. Time for a game of footer: time to show those boys of mine some real skill. Where’s myNewcastleshirt…



  1. Jo Clarkson · April 15, 2011

    As usual I agree with all the comments (sorry!) but I would add a thought – for a lot of people it’s not about getting INTO work mode at home, it’s about getting OUT of it at the appropriate time. I know too many people who find it harder to switch off (especially when times are tough) if their home environment has become blurred with their work environment. And that can have a really negative impact on family relationships and quality of life. Sometimes going out of the front door every morning to face the world of work helps us to keep things in perspective, and the clear boundaries between home and work (with the opportunity to leave each behind at the appropriate time!) can make both much more enjoyable!

    • edreidyork · April 15, 2011

      Jo – you know this is something I’m passionate about, and it’s also something I still struggle with, so keep reminding me please!

    • Simon Starr · April 15, 2011

      I couldn’t agree more with this; we used to live in a fairly open plan flat and my “office” was at one end of the main living area with the sofa, TV etc. at the other end. I really struggled to keep work separate from home life and would often find myself doing bits or work or catching up with emails in the evening.

      The solution for me was to go out for a walk every morning before I started work and treat this as my commute. At the end of the day I learned to associate my wife getting home from her job with clocking off time or, even better, go out and meet her for a drink on her way home 🙂

  2. Steven Partridge · April 15, 2011

    I agree with much of what you say, Ed.

    I have worked from home on a fairly regular basis in previous jobs and do occasionally now. It does require discipline, but there are less disruptions generally.

    Having also managed homeworkers one of the downsides can be the lack of face to face contact between home- and office-based staff, but this can be overcome.

    • edreidyork · April 15, 2011

      Hi Steven – absolutely bang on in terms of lack of face-to-face when working from home, which goes for everyone in that situation, not just employees. Thanks as ever for your comments

  3. Penny Lines · April 15, 2011

    Ed – good post and the point about body clock really resonated with me.

    Working early morning (and I mean early) is when my brain’s at its most creative – past 2pm it’s admin and then I clock off early too. It is sooo much less stressful to know that I can work wne I want/need to – but Jo is quite right: you’ve got to schedule time off too. I put it in the diary and (do my best to) treat it with the same importance as a client meeting :-).

    The collison of work/home like in OutLook used to be taboo for me, but I now find it a very effective way to “swap heads”. I can focus on work when I’m working and focus on home life when I’m not – instead of carrying my business around all the time with me!!

    And on that note, have a great Easter 🙂

    • edreidyork · April 15, 2011

      Hi Penny High quality comments as ever!!

      How’s things? We’re at home over Easter – are you and Daniel over this way? We’d all love to see you both.


      Sent from my iPhone

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