How contractors working from home can stay productive
by Alan Little
Olaitan Ajimobi, Education and Training Officer at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has offered contracting professionals who work from home on occasions some essential tips for staying focused and productive.
Many contractors working independently through their own personal service firms through umbrella companies will have the option of working from home from time to time. But while this method of working is convenient, there’s lots of potential distractions to throw flexible professionals off course, too – from family members chatting to the TV blaring to the urge to fix that dripping tap in the kitchen. But Ajimobi provides a list of three simple, practical measures that can be taken to get everything done on time.
Create a tidy, inviting workspace
Contractors can insulate themselves from home-based distractions by setting up a home office that’s separate from other parts of the house or room. To make it inviting, though, it needs to be comfortable, tidy and equipped with everything a contractor needs to get the job done. Your attention can remain focused of your work in this space, without being drawn away to the chat show on TV or an entertaining conversation with a family member or a housemate. Or that annoying tap.
Develop good time management skills
Working at home often means setting your own deadlines, but home as a place of comfort can sometimes conflict with the home office as a place of industry. Ajimobi suggests self-organising measures that are fundamentally time-management techniques, such as breaking down projects into annual or monthly schedules and setting clear work targets to keep on track. There are also apps and websites available to help contractors working from home to create a routine that works for them. The crucial thing is to create routines and processes that help systematise the home-working contractor’s projects and keep him or her consistently productive.
Practice good communication
Working at home usually means that you’re part of a virtual team, all of whom have a stake in one another’s ability to deliver on time. And that makes good communication essential, even (perhaps especially) when your colleagues are in far-flung locations. Phone calls and regular emails providing updates go a long way to coordinate the efforts of all, setting precedents for colleagues to follow, too. As Ajimobi explains:
“This should involve asking plenty of questions, confirming details and ensuring everyone is always on the same page and on-track for their deadlines. Tools like Slack, Google Docs and Google Sheets can also make collaboration a lot easier.”