Introduction\n\nAs the world around us changes in response to uncertain times, we all are seemingly going to have to adapt to these changes in order to keep progressing forward. The period that we currently reside in is unprecedented in scale, and there will likely be many twists and turns along the way before we reach that comfortable place of stability and calm. Here's hoping those days come sooner rather than later.\n\nIn the meantime, one such adaptation that we are moving towards is the concept of 'Working from Home', where employees transition their working activities from their base office and perform their job roles from where they live. Whilst the idea of setting up shop in your living room in the comfort of your pyjamas might seem simple, it can actually be deceptively tricky and takes a little bit of thought to move over whilst still remaining productive with your roles and responsibilities. I (fortunately) have worked for a company that has embraced home working for quite a long time and (for as long as I can remember) has had the facilities and infrastructure in place to permit the completion of work from outside the office. I was also fortunate to have been able to take a year-long sabbatical from my job, during which (in-between the travel) I managed to teach myself new skills which required discipline and a work-ethic identical to Working from Home.\n\nAs it is important that we come together during these uncertain times, I thought I would share some of my experience and insights to those unsure about what to expect and what to do when transitioning to Working from Home. Hopefully this will help ease any anxiety and provide the necessary guidance for people to get up and running as quickly as is humanly comfortable. It is also important to note that many people will be performing roles that don't naturally lend themselves towards Working from Home. In these times it is VITAL that we lift each other up where we can and support those who need it so that we all get through this together.\n\nSupporting others when they struggle\n\nGetting Up on the Right Side of the Bed\n\nYour routine is paramount to your success, and it is vital when you transition from getting up to get to the office to rising in the morning to sit down a few meters away to work. Everything from getting up when your alarm goes off, to hopping into the shower for your morning soak, to getting changed into suitable attire and having breakfast should be taken seriously because these can easily fall by the wayside (to your detriment) when you don't have to leave the comfort of your own space to work. We need to carry on, business as usual even when using the front door isn't a necessity anymore.\n\nUnder no circumstances should we allow ourselves to slip into bad habits, because it is really easy (and tempting) to do so. I find that my morning routine prepares me for the day to come, and without a stable set of healthy habits, productivity can fluctuate. I'm sure most can relate to waking up some mornings and not feeling 100% 'On', but this is very different to overhauling your morning behavior for no reason other than the removal of your commute. Certain bad habits can include, but are not limited to:\n\nIgnoring or repeatedly snoozing your alarm because you don't have to wake up so early to make a lengthy commute. This ultimately eats into your morning routine and leaves you less prepared for when you start work. Give yourself the time you need!\n\nMoving towards a partial/no morning bathroom routine as you won't have to deal with people face-to-face. Remember your personal hygiene is personal to you, and it is important to remain healthy and hygienic even when you don't have a 9am face-to-face with your line manager in meeting room 6B.\n\nStaying in pyjamas as who needs work attire at home right? Getting dressed is important to get you feeling ready for work, and it's all part of the morning process. Obviously you don't need to "SUIT UP", but you should put on clothes that make you feel work-ready. I'm fortunate that my organisation has a dress down Friday policy, and when Working From Home, I always choose clothes that I would be happy rocking up to work in. I don't know about you, but I'd get some pretty funny looks if I rocked up to work in a Marvel onesie and fluffy slippers 😂 (not that I own them haha)!\n\nSkipping breakfast, rolling out of bed and getting right down to business because you wanted to maximise your time and comfort under the sheets. I. HEAR. YOU. ON. THIS! Believe me, I know it's tempting, but its the path to ZERO productivity. Imagine getting up, chucking on some clothes and just heading into the office! I doubt that would go down well and you'd still likely be waking up as your emails start flooding in, your Skype starts ringing and your colleagues swing by your desk to discuss that report deadline at lunchtime. Not a good idea, and by the time you are fully functional, a fraction of your day will have already passed and you'll already be behind. Give yourself time to wake up before working, like you did naturally before.\n\nChanging the time you set your alarm for as you now no longer commute to the office. Put simply, don't do this. If you normally get up at 7am when going into the office, get up at 7am when Working From Home. Treat Working From Home like you are working as normal, only now you're working from a different office like if you were visiting a client, another branch etc. Yes, you may have a little more time to yourself, but think of it as a fantastic opportunity to do some other things. Remember that list of things you've always said you'd love to do but never have the time? Well here's that extra time you wanted!\n\nPerson set up and ready to work from home on their laptop\n\nStart your morning as you mean to go on throughout the day. Working From Home isn't supposed to signify some massive change in our morning rituals, rather it's a means of performing our roles from our living quarters. Think of your accommodation as a surrogate office, and treat it as another branch of your company. Try as best you can to get to this "office" fit, healthy and ready for action!\n\nWithstanding Isolation\n\nNow that we don't have the commute into our places of work, all of those familiar faces that we pass along the way will also be a thing of the past. This means that your routine "hi", "hello" and "how are you doing" conversations, as well as regular face-to-faces with your colleagues will no longer happen in the same capacity as before. No one tapping you up at your desk for a quick conversation, no impromptu chat in the breakout room whilst making your 3rd cup of tea/coffee and no all-hands project meetings full of friendly/happy/frustrated faces. Instead it will be 'me', 'myself' and 'I' in your home working space, and this in itself will be a huge shift if you've not worked from home before in any capacity, and will still be quite the shift if you've done the odd day here and there. You might be joined by your families and/or housemates at home, but this is very different when compared to being present with your teammates and colleagues with whom you have a working relationship. Also, if you live alone, it can be very difficult to get that all important face-to-face contact.\n\nIsolation is VERY real, and affects different people in different ways. If we go for long periods without human-social interaction (which will likely be limited during this current period), then we might be affected in ways that we don't want which could ultimately affect our mental health and well being. I've actually touched on similar themes before when talking about working away on site, and I really do recommend having a read at what I had to say about this topic also.\n\nLooking After Yourself Whilst on the Road\n\nWe might Working From Home for the long haul, and thus it is important that we redefine how we interact socially to ensure that we remain comfortable in our surroundings. For this, I have a few suggestions that could hopefully help during these trying times.\n\nSchedule contact with your family, friends and even colleagues so that you have something to look forward to. Take it as far as putting it in your calendar, and think of these as moments to "get ready" for. Make and effort, and "turn up" for each one. Contact can be phone calls, text chats via messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Signal etc and even video chats via Skype, Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp etc. Be there, be present, talk about how you are feeling and take care of others. Ensure that no one is alone during this period.\n\nHave online lunches with your colleagues! Remember how you used to go for lunch together? Keep doing that! A few of us on Friday tried this out from our various home offices over Skype for Business, and it worked really well. We even got the banter going, where a couple of us couldn't resist having a dig at each other 😂. For this to work, agree a time beforehand, and prepare your meal 5-10 minutes before the agreed time so that you are ready to go! Also try to join a little earlier to fix any connection "kinks" that tend to happen during video calls, including no audio, flipped video and OF COURSE... bad hair!\n\nPut a recurring (preferably morning) team meeting in everyone's calendars so that your team can come together and discuss the good, the bad and the ugly about their various situations and/or projects. Now more than ever, we need to communicate more which can be a bit difficult when you can see someone at their desk and walk up to them. Give people ample opportunity to voice their thoughts and take the time to listen, digest, understand and provide solutions where required.\n\nLeaders should take the time to regularly address and communicate important decisions and up to date actions, preferably over video conferencing that employees can join and watch. In this day and age of "Broadcast Yourself", it has never been easier to get yourself out there along with your messages, so use the tools which we have in abundance such as Skype, Teams, Yammer, Zoom etc. I've seen excellent examples of this already at the company I work for all the way up to our CEO, and I thoroughly recommend that everyone follows this example. There will be times where employees are so busy that they cannot join the stream, so make the video available for watching at ANY time. Also, send out regular supplementary text-based communications. This will help people who are not working from the same location as you see you as a visible leader, that you are taking important actions and understand the reasoning behind your actions. Without this, people will fill in the blanks themselves (i.e. rumours start swirling), which is something you DEFINITELY DON'T WANT!\n\nEffective online communication is vital in creating a sense of community when working from home\n\nDon't underestimate how CRITICAL it is to communicate with others via other channels whilst Working From Home. To prevent social isolation and to stay connected to your people, I recommend being more of a social butterfly as normal!\n\nUse Collaborative Tools Effectively\n\nWhen Working From Home, the way we collaborate on work changes because close proximity to your colleagues is removed in favour of working remotely from different locations. This can be an issue at first, especially when everything is geared around co-located team members, such as writing progress on whiteboards, information pinned up on walls and marked up physical paper-based documents (yes this still happens). It doesn't need to be an issue, and there exist many tools out there which can help in such times. I have outlined a few example methods below which could help.\n\nSMARTLY email updates rather than pin/write them up. I have emphasised the word "smartly" because people (whose job description won't include all-day mail filtering) will likely already be receiving far too many emails to properly handle, and thus are likely ignoring messages they don't think are worth their time. Instead of flagging the email as high priority (those will get binned the fastest 😂🤣), or writing the subject in CAPITALS, instead create a separate mailbox or put a shared phrase in EVERY subject heading so that your recipients can easily create auto-forwarding rules to send emails to a particular folder for easy archiving and reading later. This will stop them from setting up a rule that auto-forwards ALL emails from you to the deleted folder 😫! Please drop your ego, yes people DEFINITELY do this!\n\nUse a dedicated collaborative environment for shared messaging rather than email. Email is point-to-point, meaning that if someone is (accidentally) missed off the recipient list, they can't get the message(s) unless MANUALLY forwarded to them. Collaborative spaces, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint & Yammer, Atlassian Confluence & Jira, Jive etc. on the other hand are team-based by design, meaning that you can post a message and/or important information and as long as someone has access to the space, they can receive it, even if added at a later date. They can also choose what they want to read, and thus not have an unread messages inbox counter increasing every minute to an embarrassing number (guilty as charged)!\n\nIf using Microsoft Office (which you most likely DEFINITELY are), don't use an older version, store your documents on your local machine and/or shared drives and request edits using email attachments. If you are, you will be missing out on FANTASTIC advancements made over the years. Instead, get yourself a shiny new Microsoft SharePoint site (personal recommendation and #NotAnAdvert) and store your documents on there. SharePoint allows you to collaboratively work on documents simultaneously (Excel just got a lot more interesting 😎), gives you a rich version history (including author date and changes made), allows you revert back if someone made a mistake along, as well as a whole host of other features. Trust me, if implemented correctly, you'll never want to use local/shared drive again. Just make sure you SWERVE the old 2010 version, that's going end of life soon and it is RUBBISH!\n\nUsing the latest and greatest collaborative tools can help us work remotely as if we were face-to-face\n\nUsing collaborative tools effectively will supercharge your home working capabilities so I thoroughly recommend investing accordingly. Also, if you want further information, I have gone into more detail about collaborative tools before in a previous article which I have included below.\n\nUsing New Applications to Accentuate Your Existing Workflows\n\nSchedule Regular Breaks\n\nA seemingly small topic, but an important one nonetheless and a solution to a problem I hadn't even noticed until a colleague of mine brought it up during an online meeting last week after we transitioned to working from home. During busy periods Working From Home, it can be really easy to become hyper-focused (without other colleagues around you), sit down all day and barely move which is REALLY bad for us and our posture. Also, where our office environments (and desks) will likely be assessed from a health and safety point of view (leading to the allocation of appropriately sized desks and correct chairs), this will less likely be true from home offices. Seeing as none of us want to return to our places of work with back and spinal difficulties, make sure you schedule hands off time where you get up and walk around your home. Make yourself a cup of tea, have a quick "walking and talking" phone call with a colleague, do some press-ups, ANYTHING that gets you away from your desk for a few moments. Take your personal health seriously!\n\nControl Your Distractions\n\nSo you're at home, and now have access to the TV, movie streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu etc. Your sound system can bust out tunes at SUPER HIGH volumes. Your dusty carpet is meters away from you and your hoover is only slightly further than that. There's this fabulous recipe you've seen on your various social channels that you have been DYING to try out. My advice here is to be VERY careful that you don't allow access to all of these elements affect your daily work otherwise you will end up doing FAR LONGER hours in the day to get your work finished. Don't even have the news or your favourite movie/show on in the background as they will definitely solicit your attention and cause your work to take far longer than it normally should. Act as you would normally from your place of work.\n\nRemember, without your commute, you will have far more time to yourself to catch up on your latest shows, music, recipes and housework, so wait until you're finished and utilise your EXTRA free time 😁. This kind of behaviour and lost efficiency is a major fear of employers who have pushed back on home working in the past (something I'm sure that many are regretting now), so let's carry on doing the fine work that we do and not give these fears any credibility! What we are experiencing now is possibly the largest case study in Working From Home that will ever be conducted, so it's up to us to ensure that the results are so good that flexible working is something that EVERY company wants to implement.\n\nWorking from home can be a happy experience when you get used to it\n\nEffective Home Working 😁\n\nWorking from home can be as effective as working from our usual base of operations as long as we adapt our working practices and adapt our infrastructure. Productivity starts from getting up in the morning, relies on staying connected and is accentuated by working smartly with the tools available to us. It is also important that we give ourselves a few moments to stretch our legs and ensure that we don't get distracted by the many activities available to us in our new home working environments. It can take some time to get used to, but we can all get there as long as we support each other and provide guidance and assistance where required. Hopefully this article helps a few people getting used to this way of working!\n\nTake care and all the best, Si.