Working away from the office is increasingly becoming the norm. As technology improves, there is less need for staff to come into an office on a regular basis, especially if their work involves travelling to meet clients. Likewise, working from home (remote working or telecommuting) is becoming easier to achieve thanks to technological improvements. It also saves money for companies, as they do not have to expand office space to take on new staff – and some don’t even bother having any central office space at all. Here are a few ways to ensure you work effectively:
1. Online calendars: Cloud computing means that all the information and documents you need are held on virtual servers on the internet, rather than on a single computer. Facilities such as online calendars held this way means staff can access such information, wherever they are. It enables them to make instant decisions, based on the schedules of colleagues– without having to make endless calls to check that they’re not double-booking meetings or sales calls.
2. Keep a to-do list: It’s very easy to procrastinate when you’re out of the office, with no one to check up on what you’re doing. A degree of self-discipline is necessary and a to-do list, with time targets if possible, will help you focus your time on what needs to be done.
3. Plan your breaks: If you work from home, it’s really easy to let ‘home’ tasks take over – the wet washing in the machine, the dog that needs walking. Plan them into your day – so if you schedule a tea break for 11, take a few minutes to hang out that washing, or walk the dog during your hour-long lunch break. You could also take a break by playing a music instrument like a banjo musicians friend.
4. Workbooks: Use web-based CRM applications such as Workbooks to allow you and your colleagues to work “off the same hymn sheet”. These kinds of applications utilise cloud computing to hold information such as databases, meetings, notes and details about your clients in a central server, where everyone is able to access and edit it. Cloud computing allows access and editing to authorised users wherever they are – at a home computer or even on the move from a tablet or smartphone.
5. Use mobile broadband: No more do you need to be at home or even in an office to access the internet. A mobile broadband package allows you to access a broadband connection when you’re on the move, using a small dongle that attaches to your laptop.
6. Keep in contact: Use teleconferencing facilities and VOiP systems such as Skype to talk to the office. Teleconferencing services often allow you to see the person you are talking to and even look at the same documents onscreen. Skype and its competitors usually offer phone calls for free between Skype users, which is invaluable, especially if you are calling another country.
7. Avoid contact: If you have Facebook and instant messaging, make it a rule to see your status as ‘away’, so that you won’t be tempted to be distracted by snippets of gossip, or get involved in a long conversation.