How many of you work from home when it suits you? Or rather, how many of you wish you did?
Following on from the revelation that the Olympics left a legacy of flexible working for UK businesses, we have been tweeting our top tips for flexible workers; and it got me thinking about my own transition to remote working.
So how can you make the move from office worker to flexible worker as smooth as possible? First of all, some basic advice: you need to make sure your working environment is as hospitable for productivity as possible. Make sure you're fully connected to all the networks and servers necessary, and set aside an area in your home as your 'office'. Working from the sofa won't work - believe me, I've tried!
These tips provide a solid foundation for a home office, but as flexible working becomes an increasingly prevalent trend in UK working culture, it's time we thought about new ways to optimise productivity away from the office.
Load up on brain food
Those new to flexible working, for all their time saved with their new one-minute-commute, not to mention proximity to their pots, pans and pantries, are able to whip up some quick brain food for lunch. If you're working from home, take advantage of the time you get back by not having to commute and make a meal that is sure to give some oomph to your working day. Try a strawberry melon yoghurt smoothie for breakfast, a salsa soup for lunch and some smashed bean dip for snacking. You can find all the recipes here.
Attend company meetings from your home office
The world keeps turning even when you're out of the office, so make sure you maintain a strong presence at company meetings by setting up a solid video conferencing system - this way your colleagues will be able to see you rather than hearing a disembodied voice! Take your time choosing the right setup: it's your new tool to stay connected with your company.
The right technology is of the utmost importance, but consider your working environment as well. Your backdrop should be professional - quiet, tidy and office-like. Make sure there isn't a door behind you; family members walking in and out can appear unprofessional. The lighting should allow for a high-quality, well-lit picture on a video call, and beware of brightly-coloured clothing: it can often give off a glare on video.
Get out and about
No matter where you're working, it's important to get a blast of fresh air to keep the cogs turning. When I'm working from home, I take advantage of my extra time in the mornings by getting on my bike for an hour. The exercise increases my energy and sharpens my focus - if I have an important video call, I go for a good cycle ride beforehand.
Turn up the music (but not too much)
Whenever I'm working on something that requires creative thinking from home, I put on a good tune. And I'm not alone - music is known to boost productivity in the working environment. You want to find the right balance between stimulating and non-distracting, so try a song without lyrics on low volume and see how this helps set the scene for success.
Get app happy
We can do so much on the move nowadays, from booking a holiday on the bus to finding out local information in an unfamiliar area. Our whole lives are becoming increasingly flexible and mobile - and that includes our working lives. I've downloaded some apps that are useful when I'm working from home. Keeper, for instance, stores and manages your passwords and private information. I like to separate my work and home life, which the app allows me to do. For those who, like me, have a temperamental scanner at home (or none at all), TurboScan lets you scan multiple documents into high-quality PDFs with your phone camera.
If you happen to be out of home with only your mobile or tablet to keep you connected to those back in the office, download RealPresence. This lets you connect face-to-face from wherever you are, any time, through WiFi or 3G/4G networks. Holding a meeting at any time, in any place is the real meaning of flexible working.
The home-working revolution is underway, and now it's time for us to think about new ways to make the arrangement even more beneficial for you and your company. Food, video calls, music and apps really help me; but what are your top tips for homeworking?