We currently find ourselves in the midst of unprecedented events, with the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) seeing many businesses turning to ‘working from home’ practices in an effort to try to slow the spread of the virus. To those who are just easing into such a concept, it can be easy to feel out of place as normal daily routines are disrupted, and lines become blurred between work and life when they both happen in the same place.
At Upside, the remote office model is something we have always operated under. We have no brick and mortar office so our local agents work from home when they’re not meeting with their clients.
We’ve asked our agents for their top tips on how to turn your home into your office to help you through - no matter what industry you’re in!
- Maintain regular work hours
- Create routine to start your day
- Manage your diary
- Have scheduled breaks
- Quality tech
- When you need to do life admin, do it and move on
- Keep a dedicated space
- Set boundaries with your family
- Over-communicate with your team
- Stay social
- Stay healthy - physically and mentally
- Do enjoy the perks
- End your day with a routine
1. Maintain regular hours - even if they are different to your normal work hours
As a real estate agent, you find yourself already working outside of ‘normal’ work hours, so it’s even more important to structure your day in a way that ensures you have some time to switch off.
Be sure to have a concrete start and end time, and remember to include breaks. A common misconception is that workers spend less time working when working from home, when in fact it is equally likely that you overwork because you aren’t confined by the normal boundaries of a work day.
Remember though, that this day does not have to mirror your normal office hours. The beauty of working from home means that you can be flexible in setting your working hours. If you need to get the kids to school, or find yourself more productive in the early hours, factor this into your day.
Setting up regular hours and sticking to them will make sure you are productive but also ensure you have time to switch off.
2. Create a routine to start your day
When working from home, it can be all too easy to grab your laptop in the morning and start working on the couch. Before you know it - it’s 11am and you’re feeling cooped up! Once you set your work hours, you need to make sure you stick to them whilst keeping a clear boundary between work and your personal life.
Everyone starts their day differently, and although you aren’t rushing out of the house and commuting to an office, be sure to upkeep routine. It can be something as simple as getting changed into ‘work clothes’, or even making your coffee and taking it to your desk.
Dressing for work is important, and make your bed! It’s a mental thing but helps, according to all the high achievers.” - Cam Scott, Upside Sales Mentor
3. Manage your diary
One way to develop a good structure to your day is to get into the habit of using a planner or diary to book in certain tasks. If events that are normally face to face are now being carried out remotely (in our case, something like a meeting with a vendor), you should still book these in your diary as you would a physical meeting.
Blocking out a time in your diary will help you keep track of deadlines, appointments and meetings and ensure these tasks don’t fall off your radar.
If you have tasks that require team collaboration, using task management platforms is also a great way to keep track of what everyone is up to!
Our top task management apps recommendations include:
4. Have scheduled breaks
As important as it is to book in work activity, it is also important to set aside time for breaks. Book in your lunch time and don’t cut it short, or set aside time for a morning coffee and take it outside. Upsetting the work-life balance may actually work against your productivity.
5. Quality tech
Upside agents are provided with tech that helps them structure their day and lends the support that you might normally find in the office. While you may not have access to this, quality technology such as an up-to-date desktop, laptop, tablet or phone (and a steady internet connection!) or even a second bigger screen may be necessary for you to efficiently do your job from home.
6. When you need to do life admin, do it and move on.
In a home environment there are many more distractions around you to pull you away from your work, and naturally life admin will become a bigger part of your day than what you are used to. Rather than letting it become a distraction you think about all day, sometimes it is better to just stop working entirely, get it done and move on.
7. Keep a dedicated space
Not only will a dedicated space help you to create and maintain an ergonomic setup, a dedicated work zone will provide an environment that feels different to the rest of your house, making it easier to get started in the morning and limit distractions.
Whilst a study is obviously ideal, setting up in the corner of a spare bedroom, the garage or even the dining table could prove to be a good option, just make sure you avoid the TV.
8. Set boundaries with your family
Whether the kids are at home or your partner, it is important to set boundaries to ensure that you can be productive. Make it clear when your work day is starting, ending and when you are on break. One way to do this could be to share your routine with your family or use a visual guide, such as a thumbs up or thumbs down sign outside your work space.
One of the benefits of working from home is that you get to spend extra time with your family - just make sure it is structured (a timed walk together at lunch) and not distracting (helping your children with their puzzle while you are trying to work).
9. Over-communicate with your team
Misinterpreting digital conversations is an everyday occurrence at the best of times, but the risk of this only heightens when all communication becomes digital. During periods where everyone is working from home, it is crucial to be as clear as possible in your communication, and equally as important to reaffirm that your message was received correctly. On the other side, remember that it is a lot harder to read tone and sarcasm online so don’t read too much into every online interaction.
Over-communicating also relates to your schedule and movements. Share your diary with your team and if you’re planning to have a day off or just finished a task, don’t hesitate to let them know.
10. Stay social
Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t be social. Try and organise regular video conferences with your team to maintain some face-to-face time and allow yourself a few minutes to catch up about non work matters on these calls. Organise daily ‘virtual lunches’ where anyone in the team can log on to a video call and you call catch-up whilst eating lunch. If you are using a messaging tool like Slack, create a ‘random’ channel as a place for people to share jokes and have office banter. There are also great remote team bonding options, like Quizbreaker, designed to add some fun to your isolation.
Our top tech recommendations:
11. Stay healthy - physically and mentally
Working from home can take a toll on both your physical and mental health if you aren’t proactive about looking after yourself. In place of your work commute, start or end your day with a run or a walk Make sure to also get fresh air everyday and have at least one conversation either via video or phone to help you feel a bit more connected. If your find yourself struggling mentally, mindfulness apps such as Calm or Headspace can provide you with some handy techniques to maintain a healthy mind.
12. Do enjoy the perks
Whilst there are many challenges that come with working from home, gaining back commute time and being home can also bring with it a lot of perks. For instance, you can start the day by walking your dog to get some fresh air. If you have a pool and it’s a hot day, have a swim break at lunch time. Working from home can also be a culinary game changer - just imagine all the slow cooks, home baked bread and extravagant lunches that are now on the table!
13. End your day with a routine
It might sound counterintuitive, but ending your day when working from home can often be a challenge without the home commute to separate your work life from your home life. Your daily routine should involve having a set end time, or having a final task that you adhere to each day before logging out. The biggest challenge here is that you are still in the relative same environment as you were in after your work day ends, which reinforces the importance of having a dedicated work space you can move away from.
Having a daily structure, schedule your breaks, dress as if you were going into an office, having family boundaries, ensure an office communication channel is set up (slack / WhatsApp) for socialising and working“ - Jake Johnson, Upside agent.
All Upside local agents work from home and, although we offer a full real estate service, a majority of our processes and services can be accessed and carried out online. Upside has operated under this mindset since the start, and we are in a great position to bring in more technology and change processes where needed, in order to continue to help our buyers and sellers.
If you're looking to find out the value of your home, or discuss the selling process, get in touch with your local Upside agent today by requesting a free no-obligation (and virtual if you should prefer!) appraisal today.