Whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic or you need to work from home for personal reasons, it can be tricky to navigate the world of home working if you’re used to being out and about as a contractor.
So how should you approach working from home – and be successful at it? Having a flexible work / life balance is important for many contractors, which is why so many of you choose this employment line. Perhaps you usually choose to work at a co-working space, a café or even venture into the office of your clients’.
Being productive when working from home can come with its own challenges, from childcare to distractions, which is why we’ve created this handy infographic outlining how you can successfully work from home as a contractor – ideal for these uncertain and difficult times.
Ensure your technology is up to scratch
There’s nothing worse than your computer or software letting you down during a client call or in the middle of an important document. Although we’re all keeping a close eye on our finances at the moment, investing in the appropriate equipment and technology in order to efficiently complete your work is essential to successfully working from home.
Whether your laptop needs an upgrade or your Microsoft Office software is five years out of date, having smooth and slick working technology will mean less frustration and more productivity – and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
It’s also worthwhile investing in better security for your laptop or computer – and even your phone. This might come in the form of a VPN.
Upgrade your internet connection
Slow internet can be detrimental to your productivity – as well as generally being very annoying. You might also be paying much more than you need for a slower speed, so it’s important to compare and shop around. Although services may be reduced at the moment, check with individual service providers to see whether they can install new, faster broadband.
Learn how to use video software well
Video calling etiquette is essential now for most home workers. Knowing your way around Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and more is important, as your contacts and clients might all use different types. Keep yourself up to date on how to use them – and use them well. Let others speak without interruption and set an agenda for meetings, as you would in person. This prevents one person from taking over the call and individuals speaking over the top of one and other.
Look at your expenses
There are certain expenses you’re able to claim back on when working from home. These include equipment, software, accountancy – even a proportion of your heating, electricity, council tax, and internet use. However, you’ll need to work out how much of these utilities you actually use on working from home. For more information on this, take a look at our Expense Guides or get in touch.
Create a home office
Having a separate space to work in, whether that’s the spare room or at the dining table, is essential for keeping work and home life apart. If you don’t have an office or spare room to use, make sure you always tidy away your equipment and documents after you’ve finished for the day, as this ensures you won’t go back to them during your off time.
Although we can’t currently use co-working spaces or go to cafes, these are great options to break up your working day, especially if you don’t have that separate space at home
Get a routine in place
Whether that means getting fully dressed i.e. not just a fresh pair of joggers or pyjamas – or just making sure you’re sat at your desk for a certain time, a routine can help you successfully work from home and be as productive as possible. It also means you can set your own hours – just ensure you update your end client with when you’ll be available.
Routine and structure are ideal for making sure you don’t get distracted by at-home chores – set some time aside for tasks like this
Take a break
Remember to take a break – and not just at lunchtime. Getting some fresh air throughout the day is a great way to keep your mind focused and free. Even just stepping outside for a cup of coffee or to hang the washing out will give you a moment to relax and then get back to it.
Working from home can come with lots of different distractions than working in an office or on site. Allocate time to be distracted and procrastinate, so that you won’t be tempted to do so when you need to concentrate.
If you require any help or support during the coronavirus outbreak – or in the future – please do contact a member of our team today, who will be more than happy to assist you.