Well as you may have discovered the hard way during the Covid-19 lock-down, it’s not always easy working from home! Sure, it sounds nice, but it does in fact come with a unique set of challenges that must be thought out if you’re to succeed.
For starters, if you don’t have a dedicated room set aside as your home office, then the simple task of finding somewhere that is quiet enough to work and being able to do so without the interruption of other household members, can be difficult in itself. Remember that ‘working from home’ is not the same as ‘being at home and not working’ – if anything, you’re probably expected to be even more productive because you are at home! Now, I get the fact that you may understand this perfectly yourself, but it can sometimes be more difficult to convey that message to your loved ones, should they happen to be home at the same time. For this reason, if no other, step one is to designate your place of work.
Set aside an area that will be your space for doing business – it should be quiet enough for you to talk on the phone with clients, or take in a video meeting with or without a headset, whilst feeling comfortable that the person on the other end of the call is not being subject to some horrible background noise. Let the other household members know that when you are sat in this space, you are effectively ‘at work’ and should not be disturbed lightly. Naturally you’ll need a desk, a table or a bench-top to work on, and you’ll need a comfortable chair too – alternatively you might consider setting up one of those sit-stand type desks that allow you even greater flexibility if you’re able, but if not, then make sure you’re not sitting on a bar stool!
Step two is to ensure that you have immediate access to all the essential bits and pieces that you’ll need during your workday. For example, it’s highly likely that you’ll need a scanner/printer and ideally, you’ll want that connected to your Wi-Fi internet to avoid all those clumsy cables. If you and your partner are both working from home then you might need to choose a central location in the house for your shared printer and other office equipment – if not, then keep it all close by. Equally important is to have the best internet connection that’s available to you! Don’t skimp on costs such as this (which are likely to be a tax deduction for you anyway), because you’ll need lots of bandwidth for your regular video calls and data exchange.
As with any regular office you should set up your workspace complete with your laptop or desktop computer and screen; access to power for all of your gadgets, and some of the basics like a stapler; notepads and pens; a hole-punch and folders or desktop trays for organizing whatever it is that you print. You may even need access to a binding machine or laminator depending on your specific needs, and a document shredder is always a welcome addition which again, could be sat near the printer?
By keeping your workspace organised in this way, you’ll be far more efficient and productive during the hours that you work. Oh, as an aside, be mindful of your background for those video-calls too, unless of course you can change your background screen in the app? People often forget that the camera is rolling, and if there’s stuff going on in the background that you may not want others to see, then it shows no mercy!
So - now you have your dedicated, quiet space, your basic tools of the trade, and a great internet connection. You’re almost ready, except that, as a medical sales rep you’re also going to be very busy out there in the big, wide world, whenever you’re not sitting right here, in your home. You can expect to be doing lots of travel, lots of account planning, and plenty of clinical product and procedural training. Therefore, step three is to set up a wall-space for yourself too. Yes, I can see the puzzled look on your face, but I’m quite serious. It’s much easier to plan your activities if you have an area with a large wall-planner of some kind (for planning the weeks/months/year ahead); a notice-board on which to pin important items for your attention and, if you have the space, a white-board or similar area so that you can brain-storm when required. You see - I told you it made sense!
Finally, we come to step four. One of the great pitfalls of working from home is that you may forget to set those all-important boundaries for a healthy work/life balance? Equally, it can be difficult to motivate yourself at times, especially if you’re having a bad day or losing business, whilst everybody else in the home is having fun. For this reason, it’s essential to maintain a routine.
Think about this in the context of going to work at a designated office – the likelihood is that you’d be expected to be at your desk for a certain time of the day, and to do a certain number of hours work, with various breaks in between? Well, working from home should be no different. You should set your alarm, get up and dressed (remember those video calls you might be appearing in), and sit at your workspace in just the same way. If you’re working at home all day long then remember to take your regular breaks, just as you would at the office, and when your workday comes to an end, then walk away, and leave whatever is left to be done, until tomorrow! You need to have routine to keep you on the right track and maintain that healthy balance, but you also need to be disciplined enough to apply it.
And there you have it, in four very easy steps, your foolproof recipe for successfully working from home! Good luck and stay tuned for further updates ...