How do you ensure your home office allows for maximum productivity? Set yourself up for success when you’re working from home.
As a conveyancer or solicitor you probably face tight deadlines and time pressure, particularly around settlement. That’s why, when working from home, it’s critical to maintain a professional environment that will help you to stay focused and get the work done on time.
So where do you start? By having a plan of course.
Follow these tips to make sure your home office is set up for success.
Plan your home office
The first step is to prioritise what you need from your home office. Ask yourself the following questions:
· Which room or area is best suited to my home office?
· What type of work will I be doing?
· When will I be doing most of my work?
· What equipment do I need?
· Can I accommodate client meetings at home?
Define your workspace
It’s up to you whether you turn the spare room into your office or set up each day in the dining room, but make sure you know when you’re ‘at work’ and when you’re ‘at home’.
If it suits, you could convert your garage into an office – it’s a great way to separate your work and home lives. However, you might want to swap that roller door for something more professional, especially if you’re planning to invite clients around.
Next, make sure you’re comfortable. If you’re constantly moving around because your seat hurts your back, you’re unlikely to get through all your work in a timely manner. Invest in a nice desk and a solid, ergonomic chair.
Consider your environment and what helps you to focus. Some people enjoy listening to the radio while they work; others prefer to close the door and ignore the rest of the world. Either way, it’s important to stay away from things that might distract you.
Also, cut physical clutter with the right storage. Install shelves to store files, or remove files altogether by going paperless and digitising all your documents.
Have a routine but be flexible
In terms of your day-to-day routine, it’s best to aim to work set hours, with some flexibility.
For example, you could start your day answering emails on a laptop at the kitchen bench, and then transition into your home office later in the morning. Just make sure you set boundaries so that you’re not checking your emails on your phone while you’re still lying in bed.
Sort out your admin and technology
Just because you don’t have a dedicated IT desk on call, doesn’t mean you need to go without help.
First, invest in some good quality tech you can depend on – a desktop, laptop or tablet – or a combination of these to give you flexibility. Then, if you get stuck, you can reach out online or by telephone to any number of tech companies who can help you out remotely – or even stop by your brand-new home office. You may also want to arrange ongoing tech support for things like data backup, internet security and software/hardware upgrades.
Other practical considerations include a reliable printer and scanner, plus a stable internet connection and wireless signal. And don’t forget to keep your stationery cupboard well stocked.
Prepare for client meetings
Finally, you’ll need to decide where you meet with clients.
If you want to host client meetings in your home, you’ll need a dedicated area that conveys a sense of professionalism. A dining room could suffice, but it needs to be clutter-free. Your clients will need access to a bathroom and you may want to offer refreshments.
If your home isn’t appropriate for meetings, try using a quiet local cafe or another suitable location nearby. Alternatively, you might consider Skype or a similar online video app that makes it easy to catch up with your clients 'face-to-face' without either party having to spend time travelling.
By following these tips you’ll be able to finalise settlements for your clients from the comfort of your own home office.