working from home

  • Creating a Working From Home wardrobe

    In an ideal world, those working from home would get up at the same time as everyone else, and don the same smart workwear and flawless hair and make up as the rest of the working world. But really, this seems like a terrible waste of an outfit when the only people that will see you during a working from home day are the postman and your family.

    That said, I’m not suggesting you give in and resort to wearing your pyjamas all day. This will only lead the postman to believe you’re off work unwell, and your family to make sarky remarks about ‘lounging around all day’.

    So, for the female home workers among you, I’ve put together a selection of the best clothing to wear at home, which caters to both your comfort and your style needs. Obviously this is only my opinion – if you want to go for power suits or Lady Gaga-style outfits, I applaud you!

    Trousers

    Let’s start from the bottom shall we? Remember that episode of Friends, where Phoebe claims to have bought a pair of Apartment Pants?  That’s essentially what we’re looking for here – trousers that could pass for a pair of casual day trousers, but have the comfort level of a pair of PJ pants. These tend to be under the loungewear area on most sites. ASOS does a great range, including these Oysho Jersey Track Lounge Pants:Image 1 of Oysho Jersey Track Lounge Pant

    Primark also does a great range of loungewear – I’ve got several of their black stretchy trousers, which wouldn’t look out of place at a yoga class.

    Tops

    Go for fitted but comfortable. I tend to go for vest tops or t-shirts with a super-soft cardigan, for some relaxed glamour. I love slouchy, off-the-shoulder jumpers too, or cute little knit jumpers. Here are a few of my current favourites:

    Draped jacket with faux leather detail from Zara.

    Another Zara find (they really do have lounge chic down to a T), a Striped Sweater with lace detail.

    Oriental Flock Kimono from Miss Selfridge

    Dresses

    Dresses and leggings/tights are a great combo for the Working From Home uniform. Comfortable to work in, but stylish enough for you to quickly pop out if you need to. Dorothy Perkins are always worth a browse for great casual dresses, like the below.

     

    Socks

    Stick with me here people. One of the wonderful things about working from home, is that you get to wear delightful, luxurious knee-high socks, and no one bats an eyelid. I love the whole range from Urban Knit, but these cream ones look extra cosy.

    Wrap

    When it’s really chilly, save on the heating and wrap up in this Cashmilon™ Tassel Trim Knitted Wrap from M&S.

    What do you wear when you’re working from home?

  • Guest Post: Working back at the ranch

    I’m on a spa break! Which means that somehow, I’ve been surgically detached from my laptop and I’m hopefully floating in a pool of bliss. Thankfully, some of my fellow freelancers have kindly stepped in to write a guest post. Today, Betty Bee shares her experiences of working from home…

    Once upon a time working from home was shorthand for waiting in for a washing machine to be delivered. Fine for a one-off but impossible to do full-time. Now with broadband, laptops, Skype and robots (ok I made that last one up) having a home office is fast becoming the smart way to eliminate time-wasting travel and work in a more flexible way. It’s practical, it’s cheap and for working mums it’s often an ideal way to continue a career in-between the tyranny of the school run.

    Working from home may seem like the answer to all your prayers and swapping the inane chat of work colleagues for Woman’s hour is in itself a thing of joy but it’s worth remembering that the pros of working at home are also the cons.

    Not having to leave the house may mean less time wasted on the dreaded commute (no more listening to the tinny beats of an overloud iPod on the train or scraping ice off your windscreen at 7am on winter mornings), but it will mean you have to discipline yourself to ignore household obligations and get down to the task in hand. Procrastination in the form of the ironing pile is not unheard of and daytime telly has to become a no no. Watching the Wright Stuff is not “research” it’s skiving.

    So how do you change your mindset from duvet dayer to office worker?

    One of the easiest ways is to create a workspace that screams productivity.  If you are lucky enough to have an entire room to devote to your office this is an easier task-keep all family life out as much as possible (no Lakeland catalogues nestling next to the report you need to read) and once the door is shut behind you consider yourself at work. Give yourself scheduled breaks and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by what next door is doing in the garden or by poking people on facebook.

    If you are having to work from the kitchen table or in the space under the stairs  (like Harry Potter with a laptop) try and ensure your working area is free of any other household clutter and invest in some file boxes so all paperwork can be neatly stored away. This will be your saving grace once the family come home and your “hot desk” becomes unrecognisable under that particular brand of debris, which can only be created by children. Like space junk, but stickier.

    Educating others that being at home is not the same as being available is possibly one of the greatest hurdles to overcome. You may find at first that friends think its fine to drop over for coffee it’s not. You are not Starbucks despite what the squashy sofa and magazines strewn everywhere might suggest. Keep that kettle switched off.

    Working from home does allow a certain sense of personal freedom and this can be harnessed to great effect-if you are having trouble with a particular problem or need to formulate a plan of action being able to step outside into the garden for a few minutes to clear your head can make all the difference and with no outside distractions you will be amazed how more efficient you will become. Try and remember to get dressed occasionally though-padding around in your dressing gown may be liberating to begin with but meeting clients wearing reindeer slippers may not give the right impression.

    Copyright Betty Bee  2011

    [custom_author=Betty Bee]

  • The 5 Rules for Working from Home (the clue is in the verb)

    Time for a guest post! I love hearing from other freelancers, especially when they share working from home tips I’ve never heard of before . Today, Fiona from The Beauty Shortlist shares hers (this post made me do an actual LOL. I never actually LOL.)

    Those were the days. Swimming in five star hotel pools in Santorini… baking Glamour Puds with Eric Lanlard (that’s me on the sofa, Eric on TV)… and surfing without getting wet (for the just the right shade of tinted moisturiser).

    Reality alert!  It’s called “working” from home. If you’re self-employed, Googling luxury escapes and baking (unless you’re Eric Lanlard) do not pay the bills.

    I’m a workaholic. But when I first swapped a basement office for a makeshift desk-with-a-view at home, the demon in my day was Distraction. Distraction dangled undone laundry and Digestives in front of me and tempted me with cups of tea and magazines. Distraction found endless ways to lure me away from the laptop.

    After two astoundingly unproductive weeks when I started working from home, it was high time to knock Distraction on the head.  So I read the Riot Act (to myself) and wrote out The Five Rules for Working from Home:

    1. Do the most important thing (that can be done today) first. Humans are ‘pain avoiders’. Beeline for the biscuit tin, run from the dentist. But get the important (aka difficult?) stuff out of the way and you’ve eased your burden already.
    2. Write a list and stick to it. Jot things down every evening/early morning. And it’s better to get three things done than have a longer list of not-quites or not dones (which makes you feel you’re not getting anywhere).
    3. Tame the email dragon.  Thank you simplicity coach Simon Tyler for this one.  Check emails only 2-3 times daily if you can. Deal with them in batches, avoid back-and-forth “loop” emailing. Be brutal. Unsubscribe from newsletters. Keep emails short and sweet (I’m still trying to master that one). Simon’s new book, The Simple Way, is out now on Amazon and I’ve just ordered it.
    4. Find your “sweet spots”.  Morning person? Yes/no/sometimes? Tailor your tasks to your energy rhythms. Flag at tea time? Do simpler stuff, a bit of admin, emails. Keep the harder tasks for the times of day when you have most energy if possible.
    5. Stick to a schedule. Creatives might disagree, but I keep office hours at home and stick to them (with a vengeance).  I may still be in my PJ’s at 8.30am on the occasional winter morning, or knock off early at four on a July Friday but I put in a pretty hefty day – every day. I now work longer hours than in that basement office and earn less, but the clincher is ‘no commute’.  And no slacking, no surfing, no dancing with Distraction. That’s for Friday nights.

    [custom_author=thebeautyshortlist]

  • Setting Up A Home Office – an infographic

    Setting up a Home Office – An infographic by the team at Setting up a home office inforgraohic

    Just a quick post today with an infographic created for the lovely Work From Home Wisdom team. The UK site is run by Judy Heminsley, and it’s got a HUGE collection of photos people have submitted of their home offices – so she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to setting up a home office.

    Have a browse of her office galleries if you get a minute. Or an hour. You can then submit your own office by emailing a picture over to them. I’m planning to do that…as soon as my desk looks less like a bomb site.

  • Pretty panels = instant home office

    Earlier this week, I was contacted about some sliding panels you can have in your home to divide a room. I know quite a few freelancers and home workers reading this won’t have the luxury of an office area at home, or a room they can get some peace and quiet in, so this seems like a great alternative. Install the sliding panel across a section of your room (for example, if you have a large lounge or spacious spare room), and you’ve got instant office space. Then once you’re done, you can slide it back across again.

    Actually, can I have one of these in every room to hide my untidiness behind? A tidy side for guests, and an untidy side where the clothes bomb has gone off?

    The panels are from The Fabric Box, and there’s a ridiculous amount of choice. Here are a few of my favourites below.

    Prices start from £77.84. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just think it’s a charming idea (and cheaper than building an extension!)

    How do you create an office space at home?

  • How to improve meeting effectiveness

    Work in an office? Chances are, you probably spend a decent amount of your week in and out of meetings.

    In previous jobs, I used to watch colleagues jump from meeting to meeting with various different departments. Often, the meetings were only useful for one member of the team, or involved lots of dithering about.

    I went to a few of these meetings (perk of the job is that I didn’t need to attend too many), and found them…well, generally pointless. More often than not, they had little structure, failed to resolve an issue and went on for much longer than they needed to.

    So, what are the alternatives?

    • Emails. Got something to tell everyone? Sometimes, an email is better than asking everyone to take an hour out of their day. If no one is reading your emails, it might suggest you need to change the way you’re writing them.
    • Interactive software. There are plenty of interactive software packages and tools around that can help businesses communicate with each other without being away from their desks. Yammer is a sort of social media network for businesses, so people can post ideas for others to see, and comment or contribute. You could also use EverNote, Springpad or Campfire. Get creative!
    • Have a meeting – but give it a time limit: Do you really have to have an hour’s meeting on that topic? Too often, the purpose of a meeting isn’t outlined clearly before, which means half the meeting is spent going over old ground. Set a short time limit, say half an hour, ask your attendees to read the material before they come to the meeting and come with ideas, and give everyone five minutes to discuss their point of views. Anything that doesn’t fit into that time can be discussed over online collaborative software (see above) or email. There’s a great post on Lifehacker about reducing meeting times to just 10 minutes – thanks to some clever forward planning. Time is money after all, and the more time you spend in meetings means less time making money!
    • Keep irrelevant chat until after the meeting. There’s nothing more soul destroying than listening to someone drone on about something that isn’t relevant to the meeting content. If you’re running the meeting, firmly (but politely) stop them and explain that you can discuss that at a later time. Chances are, the rest of the attendees will silently applause you.
    • Outline your expectations of good manners. Tardiness and the constant use of phones and iPads in meetings can wind up other attendees. Regular tardiness to meetings is disrespectful to everyone else who has made the effort to arrive on time, and tapping away through your emails shows you’re not engaged.
    • Finish the meeting with a summary of what’s been said, and a list of suggested actions. Follow up those actions a few days in an email, perhaps with meeting minutes to refresh memories.

    In general, I rarely have to have meetings these days as a freelancer. They usually happen at the start of a working relationship, and the rest of the time I mainly use Skype or email to communicate each way. Obviously that’s not for everyone, and varies from business to business. A monthly catch up meeting might suit your business down to the ground. See what works for you.

    How do you feel about meetings? Do you have any handy tactics for making them more effective? I’d love to hear them in the comments! 

  • The Future World Of Work (Infographic)

    At the moment, I’m reading ReWork, a book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson all about how our current perception of how a business should work isn’t how it has to work (thanks for the recommendation Kerri Chalk!). The pair explain how people doubted their business would be successful when none of them worked in the same office (or even the same country). They went on to launch a number of popular software packages, including Basecamp, which are aimed at small businesses, freelancers and remote workers. Their ability to be flexible with the rules,or even break them, has been the secret to their success.

    The reason I mention all this, is because I’ve just come across this infographic below that backs up how important it is for businesses to embrace flexible working and remote working. While many businesses have trust issues regarding employees working from home, those who have embraced remote working have noticed a higher level of productivity – and they’re able to attract and retain talented employees much easier. With technology getting better and better, the need to work in an office is becoming less important (which hopefully means you’ll have to go to less pointless meetings – but that’s another blog post entirely).

    This infographic is interactive, so you’ll need to pop over to Visual.ly to view the full content.

    Browse more infographics.

    How do you feel about flexible or remote working? Are you already a remote employer/employee? Let me know what you think about this working direction in the comments!

  • Garden Offices, Garden Rooms and Shed Offices: What you need to know

    When we were house hunting back in August, I had an idea in my head of the perfect little house with a lovely little room to make into an office. Then we found our current house, which has a garden office built on the side of the garage. What could be more freelance friendly?

    The great thing about an office garden is that you get an area that’s specifically for work, so you can adopt a better work/life balance. Once you’re done for the day, you can walk away from it. Much harder to do that if you work in the kitchen or lounge (especially if you have kids). It’s not exactly a cheap option, but if you’re looking to freelance long-term it could be a great investment.

    If you’re looking at building/buying your own garden office, there are several options. A lot of them don’t need planning permission either. Ours was extended from our garage by the previous occupants, but there are a lot of standalone options too.

    Where to buy a Garden Office, Garden Room or Shed Office

    • Extravagant options for those with plenty of garden space: RoomWorks
    • Still quite pricey (starting around £5k) but lovely buildings. Also have duo/trio options which might be handy if you want to let the space out: Smart Garden Offices.
    • Log cabins starting at around £740: Dunster House
    • DIY Garden Offices at…you guessed it…B&Q
    • Lots of budget-friendy offices (starting from £379) on Homebase.
    • Both Argos and Amazon have some great buys too.
    • Great resource for finding out about shed offices: Shedworking

    Basics you need to think about

    Electricity

    Having a garden office or room isn’t quite as simple as just building a pretty shed. You’ll probably need electricity to plug in your laptop, printer and other gadgets. If possible, get several plug points around the building in case you want to change your room around.

    Phone line/broadband

    You’ll also want to consider whether you need a separate phone line and broadband access. Your wi-fi might not reach your garden office, or you might prefer to keep your broadband and phone line separate for expenses purposes.

    Heating

    Garden offices can get chilly without a bit of heating. Even with the radiator in mine, I did spend a couple of days during winter typing in fingerless gloves. Check out my guide for how to stay warm during the cooler months when working from home.

    Things to buy for your garden office

    A decent chair

    You’re going to be sitting down most of the day. Treat your bum and back to something that will actually support you. Of all the things to buy, this is the area to splurge on.

    That said, I spent £40 on this chair from Tesco. It’s comfortable, supportive and the high back keeps me sitting up straight.

    I was going to go through your desk options, but really as long as it’s high enough for you to work comfortably and big enough for all your stuff, it’s fine.

    A wireless printer

    The benefit of a wireless printer, is that you don’t have to faff about with wires each time you want to take your laptop in and out of the office. There are some great ones that also scan and copy, which can be handy for expenses and paperwork.

    Wireless doorbell

    Bit of an odd one, but our wireless doorbell is a godsend. I’m often in the office when the postman comes, and can’t hear the doorbell from in the house. The wireless doorbell means I can take the little doorbell sound box with me and hear it wherever I go in the house. There are plenty of budget-friendly wireless doorbells on Amazon.

    Wall art/Flowers/General decoration

    Not essential. not even a little bit. But some decent wall art will give you something interesting to look at when you’re struggling for ideas. I’ve got a couple of posters up,  and try to get flowers occasionally to add colours. I’ve also popped a bird feeder on the tree outside my office, so I get a snapshot of nature when I look up.

    Lamp

    For those late night deadlines when you’re out of sunlight.

    Radio/iPad

    I tend to take my iPad in with me for music or the radio (or maybe a cheeky catch up from last night’s TV).

    What do you think about the concept of having a mini office in your garden? If you work from home, where do you work? Pop on over to my Facebook page and share a photo of your working space!
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