Tips for working from home from a remote working expert

10 months ago Claire Burton

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Claire Burton is Investigo’s Consulting Solutions and Staffing Bid Contract Manager, working in our Business Development and Marketing team. Spending most of her week working remotely to balance childcare, Claire’s a legitimate expert when it comes to working from home successfully. We spoke to her about her daily routine and picked up a few key tips.

As a working mother who was fortunate to find an opportunity that allowed me to work from home three-and-a-half days a week, here are some of my tips to staying engaged and focused whilst looking after your own wellbeing.

Early morning routine and commute: Typically, my morning routine is coffee, shower, dress (myself and our daughter) and then my daughter’s nursery drop-off is my morning commute. The early morning routine remains the same, but as of this week we have replaced the commute with 20 minutes of cosmic yoga! I’d recommend exercise or getting out of the house, even if it’s to walk round the block, something that switches your mindset from ‘I’m at home’ to ‘now I’m off to work.’

Weekly plan: I use a colour-coded calendar to help me track what I do, such as nursery drop-offs/pick-ups and my work activity. Specific tasks have a particular colour when they relate to certain areas of the role: staffing = orange, consulting = green, admin = purple, team = yellow etc.

This helps me prioritise my week, see what I may need to carry over and how much time I am spending on specific tasks. It makes it easier for me to manage expectations for new requests and reminds me to take breaks and lunch. The calendar holds me accountable for my time and allows others to see if my status is set to ‘Busy’ etc.

Daily Planning: I spend the first 30 minutes of the day catching up on emails and drawing up a plan for the day, either the good old-fashioned way of paper and pen (self-confessed stationery geek!) or using tasks and notes. This includes what needs to be prioritised, any deadlines, what support I need and who I need support from.

Morning manager call: A mid-morning call to connect with my line manager and discuss work in progress and any challenges.

Regular breaks: Making sure I take regular breaks throughout the day, 10-15 minutes away from my screen to give my eyes a break.

Staying hydrated: After morning coffee number three (which is my limit before I bounce off the walls) it’s useful to have a full water bottle to hand with the aim of finishing it by the close of business

Desk set up: Quiet area, free from clutter, comfortable chair, connected as needed for laptop, phone etc.

Not overthinking: If you can’t get hold of someone, they could be in a meeting, away from their desk or not free to talk at that time. Don’t think they’re ignoring you! If you don’t get an email reply straight away, it’s not what you’ve written or how you’ve written it. Maybe they haven’t read it yet, they’re digesting it or they need to talk to others before responding. It might not be a priority for them at that time.

Team engagement: Whether that be on WhatsApp, email or Teams – keep connecting with your wider team members, whether it’s work or personal-related. Out of sight doesn’t equal out of mind!

Marketing engagement: I allocate time to read the comms from Marketing, such as updates on InvestigoLIFE, monthly newsletters, D&I, CSR etc. This helps to stay connected with what is happening across the business.

Call vs email: If you could’ve made a quick call in the time it took to write the email, try calling first – it keeps interaction going, minimises the overthinking on emails (see above) and often supports with time management if it means you get an answer quicker!

Time management: When you’re in working hours, focus on work. When it is time to log off for the day, don’t just switch the laptop off, make sure you switch off too. Spend time with family and friends (at an acceptable distance!), read a book, go for a walk, watch a film, cook – whatever it is that makes you happy and ‘present’ in the moment, not thinking about the call or meeting you have the next day, or about just quickly checking your emails to see if Joe from that team has replied yet!

As a closing point, it’s about good communication – keeping in contact, having regular conversations, being honest if you are facing issues or challenges, managing expectations and being present where you are supposed to be, so that you don’t risk burnout or feeling isolated.