We all know how we’re supposed to work remotely — on a yacht overlooking an unfeasibly beautiful beach; in an elegantly transformed home office in the garden; in a contemporary coffee shop, on the ski slope, mingling with other remote workers and eating croissants.
But the reality for many of us is that we’re at home, fielding multiple slack messages while trying to put a wash on, battling other distractions such as deliveries or personal admin. And the number of us in the property industry living this existence is growing.
Working remotely is becoming vastly more common, with the property profession currently ranking second in industries embracing it. The BBC recently reported a 74% jump in people working from home in the UK between 2008 and 2018. Those figures are going in one direction only — meaning, if it isn’t part of your working life already, chances are it will be at some point very soon.
Most industries, however, have embraced the idea — none more rapidly than the finance, insurance and real estate industries.
That’s why it pays to know how to do it smartly. Jason Antill a Chartered Surveyor since 2004 and Managing Director of PRE for 12 years sets out 9 golden rules for making the most of working from home sweet home and productive.
Having rules and structures in place is key If I don’t add structure, no one else will.
While having no fixed start and finish time might feel incredibly freeing, it can also be maddening, with home and work life bleeding endlessly into one another. Setting strict parameters, whether time based or physical, can help keep the two distinct.
You can go as far as having different user profiles on your computers, one for business hours and one for pleasure. Others might bookend their day with a walk around the block or a gear-shifting drink: a coffee says ‘let’s do this’ while a beer says ‘I’m done’. Whatever works to ensure you don’t feel like you’re always at work, go for it.
Just because you aren’t in an office, doesn’t mean you can’t have colleagues. If you can work remotely, you can goof about remotely, and chat Avengers: Endgame fan theories remotely.
Establish a twice-a-day 15-minute ‘virtual coffee’ to connect with others on the team.
Use video calls help to establish rapport with other team members you may not work directly with and build a strong sense of belonging to a community.
Despite the coffee break not being mandatory, most team members would show up. And when someone didn’t for a few days in a row, it proved an effective employee engagement gauge.
Being liberated from the nine-to-five model means you can plan your day around when you are at your most productive. Working according to your own internal clock lets you tailor your schedule based on your own circadian and ultradian rhythms. There’s even an templates such as Evernote for establishing when you’re at your best.
As for the science? Work flat out in the morning, have a really long lunch, and that’s pretty much you done for the day.
Working every single weekday with the same person is not exactly healthy. The statistics have it that you may end up either marrying them or wanting to kill them, possibly both. The remote worker has the option of a more productive middle ground, one to get you out of the house but not under each other’s skin.
Technology is glorious: make collaborative remote working a joy. But sometimes it’s still best to act like it’s 1989 and make a call.
However, when things get complex, it’s best to switch on the video. When you start hearing things that feel wrong or out of place [in a message thread], it’s time to jump over to video. Five minutes of face to face is worth a hundred chat messages.
Game your to-do list. Put a couple of challenging, if not impossible, tasks at the very top, ones that sound hugely important (but aren’t really) and with seemingly pressing deadlines (that aren’t actually that pressing). Then, further down the list, the doable stuff that really matters.
Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. Someone who now claims to have a reputation for getting a lot done, despite a strong tendency to get side-tracked sharpening pencils when they get particularly stacked with work.
If you work from home full time, you spend more waking hours in your house on business than you do on leisure.
You may end up having months of hating working from home. Try to put yourself first and refurbish say a spare room into an office or your shed into a dedicated work place, which makes a massive difference in terms of my productivity and mental wellbeing.
Sitting is the new smoking’ might be the sort of phrase thrown around by the worst people in the world, but there’s something to it. The remote worker knows that being hunched over a laptop for eight hours at a time can be akin to being strung up in a medieval torture device, with the longterm effects of bad posture causing problems such as sleep.
The answer is investing in your chair. Is six grand for too much? Possibly, but if you’re sitting in it every single working day over the course of a year, it’s not that much to ask to spare your back (in considerable style) and improve your productivity. Sit on it for 10 years and you’re spending two pounds a day, which is almost a bargain.
The average worker in the UK spends 58 minutes a day travelling to and from work — the figure is an hour and 21 minutes in London — so anyone working from home has, over the course of a year, saved hundreds of hours of travel time.
Consider cashing some of that time in every so often for the benefit of your mental health, giving yourself a few hours off to do absolutely nothing. No aims, no goals, no plans, nothing at all — glorious. Just be prepared for it to take a while to adapt to this new more zen way of living.