The beginner's guide to working from home

First things first, make sure you've collected all your essential tech when you finally leave the office for the last time, including things like your headset and video cam. 

Following that, check that the computer you'll be using at home has all the right software installed. 

Don't go AWOL  

If your internet connection is proving unreliable under the strain of collective home-use, or a particular client doesn't have the know-how to turn a face-to-face meeting into a video conference, let your manager know. Same goes if your working hours change because you need to do a school pickup or an impromptu hunt for toilet paper. If someone is trying to reach you all morning without success, they won't be impressed. 

"What you can achieve at home should be no different to what you can achieve at the office. But in some situations your work will be affected, and you need to be transparent about that," says Nicole Gorton, a Sydney-based director at specialist recruitment firm Robert Half.

Dodge the distractions

There are countless distractions when working from home. Whether it's Netflix, your cute dog begging for a walk or the sudden urge to sort your sock drawer, it all needs to be ignored. Some people use the Pomodoro technique to help them maintain concentration and manage their time.

Avoid the social media rabbit hole by logging out of all apps until it's time to take a scheduled break. Then reward yourself by adding to the trending Twitter conversation #stayhomechallenge.

"Try to be cognisant of distractions and do your absolute best to remove them when you're in work mode," says Gorton. "Otherwise you'll get to the end of the day and regret not having achieved much." 

Have a designated workspace

Set up a designated workspace and make it someplace else from where you usually relax. You'll find it easier to focus. Consider your posture as well – adjust your chair to the right height, even if it means using cushions. Working in bed will probably give you a bad back (and low self-esteem).


Keep interruptions to a minimum

Not everyone has the luxury of a home office.  

"Due to a lack of space, many people will find themselves working off the kitchen table while the kids are running around, or your spouse is annoying you. In these times of social distancing, you can't just leave and go to a café or co-working space," says Dr Yvette Blount, associate professor at Macquarie Business School.

Dr Blount says you may need to have a conversation with your partner or flatmate about how you can concentrate without too many interruptions, such as turning off the TV between nine and noon. 

Stave off loneliness

"For a lot of people, the novelty of working from home quickly wears off and they start to feel lonely. They miss the camaraderie and being able to bounce ideas off other people," says Gorton. 

Stop yourself from feeling disconnected by having a quick check-in with a colleague over the phone. It could be spur of the moment or arranged in advance: just ensure you're not interrupting others while they're in the flow.  

Dr Blount says there are ways to feel socially connected, even when we're not physically together. She recommends creating WhatsApp work groups and sharing non-work-related content like pet photos, or having a daily step competition. Keep the conversation appropriate though, and remember that it's easier to offend when there's no eye-contact. 

Don't work crazy long hours 

"The research is clear: what often happens when people work from home is that they end up overworking," says Dr Blount. 

In her own research, she's found that people will start checking emails at the time they would begin their commute, or they will keep checking emails during the evenings instead of switching off. 

Instead, use your usual travel time to do some exercise or a hobby.