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Working from home: 8 expert tips on how to do it successfully

Compilation image of Nicole Pedersen McKinnon sitting on the floor looking at the camera with an image of $100 Australian dollar notes in a pile
Don't let your work-from-home energy lag, do something about it. (Source: Getty/Supplied) (Samantha Menzies)

This is part two of Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon’s strategy to making working from home WORK for you. Read part one: 10 years today: How I’ve made working from home work long term, here.

The coronavirus crisis forced millions of us, en masse, into working from home.

And a 2020, peak-pandemic study by Forbes magazine found 82 per cent liked it. Three-in-five respondents reported feeling less stressed in their new (old!) environment and 66 per cent thought they were more productive.

But it’s very possible, almost three years in and as the COVID years fade, that you need to change a few things to keep working from home sustainable and valuable – and to even permitted.


Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

At about the three-year mark – of my so-far 10 years of working for myself – I did.

So, I thought I’d give you my tips for how to make working from home ‘work’ long term.

And I’ve called in insight from other experts too.

Tip 1: Go back into the office one, or preferably more, days per week

That human connection that may have been missing? Workplace relations specialist and author of Negotiate Your Worth Sam Trattles said this is vital to re-make to get your finger back on the pulse of your chosen workplace and ultimately to get ahead. Indeed, that Forbes magazine study found a good rapport with the boss was the key determinant of whether people did enjoy working from home. It’s possible your boss is now asking for you to return to the office, at least some days, too.

So rather than letting your work-from-home energy and productivity lag, try reinvigorating your workplace reinvention and…

Tip 2: Set yourself official hours, akin to clocking in and clocking off.

It is just too easy to let business bleed into your personal life. That was a big, early mistake of mine. And on that topic…

Tip 3: Don’t look left or right

Well-known and fellow freelance journalist Sabrina Rogers-Anderson has been working from home for even longer than I have: 12 years.

Sabrina’s top tip to lasting work-from-home workability is this: “Most people don’t like when I say it but don’t stop and put a load of washing on and do the breakfast dishes because it will all of a sudden be an hour later and your deadline will start becoming very stressful. In a nutshell, ignore the housework.”

So, as counter intuitive as it is, don’t look around… which is a policy I practise. No matter how loudly the wilting plants scream at me for water, I attend only to the task at hand, although in a nonconventional way…

Tip 4: Rethink your workspace

Related and helpful with the above, Sabrina finds, is a dedicated workspace. A location that you can focus on work and switch off about chores. Personally, I prefer to work in several different, ill-equipped spots – in the winter, this is in the sun. For me, the variety aids creativity. It’s horses for courses.

This next one is really important for me and my family too…

Tip 5: After hours, put your phone down apart from dedicated check-in times

You and everyone in your life will be better off for it. In my house, dinner and the precious time spent preparing it together is sacred. Mobile off; music on.

Tip 6: Talk, talk, talk about what you are doing to your kids

Never let them think, when you are on your phone or laptop, that you are idly surfing the web of consuming social media. If you are in fact working, tell them why and what. A work ethic is an important lesson for a parent to impart and doing focused work in front of a child doesn’t make you neglectful – within reason, it can make you a great model.

Tip 7: Prioritise exercise and the endorphins this produces

Sure, the pandemic is finished and there is no longer the compulsive need to get out of the house. But exercise releases the feel-good and motivation hormone. Further, dedicated chunks of time help my organisation and efficiency. So, without the structure of a workplace, consider engineering them for yourself. The added benefit of going to a gym for this is also getting that social input you may otherwise crave.

Tip 8: Hope to never homeschool again

This one is pretty self expiatory.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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