As the impact of the recent coronavirus outbreak takes hold, many businesses are taking the precaution of instructing employees to work from home. While it's tempting to rejoice at the prospect of a commute-free day spent catching up on Netflix in your pyjamas (while answering the occasional email), taking advantage of the situation could look unprofessional and affect your longer term career prospects.
So if you're new to home working, how can you ensure you uphold high professional standards despite the more relaxed, remote surroundings? Here's our advice:
- Be prepared: make sure you have everything you need: laptop, mobile phone, chargers, and access to shared files and reliable Wifi. It's unreasonable to ask office-based colleagues to 'just log on to my machine and send me a file' because you didn’t plan ahead. Similarly, let colleagues know the day(s) that you won’t be in the office as far in advance as possible, so that they can plan any meetings or tasks around you.
- Be available: keep your phone audible and nearby, and be sure to check emails as frequently as you would at work. If you’re having to work from home for a specific appointment, let your team know any times at which you'll be unavailable.
- No social media: it goes without saying that live tweeting a commentary on the latest episode of The Stranger whilst compiling the report that was due last week isn’t what working from home was designed for.
- Stick to office hours: unless you have agreed otherwise with your manager, adhere to your contracted hours. While home-working can offer greater flexibility, it's inconvenient for colleagues if you go AWOL for a few hours during the day – even if you plan to work later to make up for it.
- No excuses: clients are unlikely to care that your boiler malfunctioned or that you’re waiting in for a delivery. Work should continue as usual, just in a different setting.
Dan Scothern, Senior Business Development Manager