How to work from home efficiently

Remote working is on the rise, but some may find the transition from office working difficult. Here’s how to make the most of your home office 
by Bethan Rees


According to the Office for National Statistics, in the UK the number of people working from their homes increased from 884,000 in 2008 to 1.5 million in 2018. With changing attitudes towards remote working and improving network capabilities, workers across a range of sectors and business sizes are setting up an office from the comfort of their home; and the benefits of this extend to the company.

The case for flexible working – which incorporates remote working – includes potential benefits to a business, such as retention and recruitment of staff; employee engagement and loyalty; and improved diversity and inclusion, according to a guide by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

However, working from home can come with its distractions. Whether it’s the temptation to watch mid-morning television or have a leisurely lunch, there are ways to make remote working more efficient for you and your company.

Set your working hours, and stick to them

You should act as if you are in an office while you’re working remotely, in terms of structured working hours, according to Laura Stack, who provides training and keynotes on office productivity, and is quoted in an article for Fast Company. Stack advises creating a contract with yourself. For example: “Work begins at 8am and ends at 5pm, and I will take one hour for lunch. Create and maintain the boundaries with yourself that will acknowledge your personality and allow you to be your best.”

Accept the distractions

It’s quite normal to be distracted at work, whether that’s in an office or at home, says Maura Thomas, author of Work without walls, in the Fast Company article mentioned above. “Our typical environment undermines our attention span,” she says, elaborating that we are distracted “every 30 to 120 seconds” by email, for example, and that “we all suffer from this”.  

Stack suggests some practical tips to overcome the temptation of giving in to a distraction. “Sit down and make a list of your worst distractions, and then write your own rules on how to counter them. What will be your agreement with yourself? When you stop doing these things and refuse to bust your own boundaries, you will become more successful and more productive.” From here, you should be disciplined and stick to the rules you’ve made for yourself. For example, she says, if you feel the need to switch on the TV while working from home, make it more difficult for yourself by putting the remote in a drawer and a post-it note on the TV that reads “do not watch”. This will help reinforce your rules when the distracting thought comes to mind.

Dress for the office

As tempting as it might be to sit at home in a dressing gown and slippers, in an article for Life Hack, writer Andrea Lotz suggests dressing for success even when working from home. Wearing work-appropriate clothes will communicate to your brain that it is time to do some work, she says. “If you have a hard time motivating yourself to get ready in the morning, try laying out your outfit the night before, or planning an outing during the day so that you have to get dressed,” she adds.

In an article for INC, writer John Rampton quotes Dr Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, who explains this further. “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear', so when we put it on, we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”

Are you dressed in work clothes when working from home? How do you keep yourself focused? Let us know in the comments.

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Published: 20 Sep 2019
  • Soft Skills
  • The Review
  • Career Development
  • work from home
  • remote working
  • work-life balance
  • flexible working
  • Career advice

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