• Carolyn M Holmes

10 tips: How not to work from home

After many years working from home for different employers and with colleagues in different teams, I thought I would share some pearls of wisdom, as to how not to work from home, for those of you who are just starting out. Wishing you all the best in your acclimatisation to working from home. Working from home is not all it's cracked up to be but we don’t have a lot of choice at the moment.

  1. First of all it is not necessary to show you are not slacking and so work overtime almost every day. Do not go over your hours unless you like volunteering. Set mental and practical boundaries between work and home. Create an inspiring workspace, no matter how small where you can concentrate for set periods of time. The message is quality over quantity. You are better off focussing your efforts in the hours for which you are being paid, rather than wearing yourself out by clinging onto the proverbial hamster wheel for dear life. You will not get any medals for this.

  2. Answering every email, in a millisecond, does show you are keen, but then when you are having a long break it will be really obvious to your colleagues. Some people recommend answering emails at set regular times in the day so that they do not rule your life, and you can get on with something more productive like real work priorities.

  3. I do not recommend working in your pyjamas. I would suggest that your dress code, is at least smart casual, since this will affect your attitude to what you are doing. You are at work, aren't you? If you want to wear a suit, please do, but maybe you could save on those dry cleaning bills for now.

  4. Don't forget when key telephone call and online meetings are taking place. Nothing worse that joining more than 10 minutes late; there are no excuses when you are at home. Make sure you have read/ skimmed the relevant papers beforehand and made a few notes of some impressive questions or comments. Test out the online connection beforehand and join at least 5-10 minutes early, in case there are problems. Don't forget to stop humming along to any music when others join the call.

  5. Don't forget to use the privacy/mute button on your phone/laptop when on a group telephone/video call. This means you can happily slurp your tea, crunch a biscuit, pat the dog, quickly answer the door for the postman or shout at the phone/laptop without anyone else hearing. Take the mute off when you hear your name, and be ready to say something intelligent (ref your notes/ questions).

  6. Staying at your desk/workstation at all times, is not recommended. You will not be able to move at all afterwards. It is important to move around regularly in the day for your long term health, stretch, have comfort breaks, eat, have a brisk short walk in order to be at your best. Make sure you sit comfortably at your desk and you can use your equipment safely, otherwise you risk acquiring musculoskeletal conditions.

  7. Don't end up just talking to yourself all day. You will end up feeling very isolated and your family will give you lots of strange looks and comments. Make sure you have regular telephone contact with your colleagues and video chats to keep yourself sane. If you find you are crying, whilst looking at your emails, or after a difficult phone call, or even at the thought of work, it is time to seek help from someone you trust and a medical professional. Crying is a sign that something is not right for you at the moment. Your health is more important and you must not suffer alone. Get some help fast.

  8. Move your golf/ tennis/swimming allotment time on Friday afternoons to days when you are not working. It's very difficult to respond to an urgent matter when you are miles away from your desk (unless you happen to own said golf course, tennis court, swimming pool).


9. By all means have a power nap in your designated break time, but please set a couple of alarms, so you wake up during working hours. Make sure you drink water during the day to ensure you are well hydrated otherwise you will get dosed up on too much tea, coffee and hot chocolate and will have trouble relaxing later.


10. Do not decide you structure is unnecessary since you are not in the ‘office’. Work out instead when you are at your most productive, create a regular timetable for yourself every day identifying the most important, urgent activities to complete first, get these out the way and give yourself a pat on the back. Use decision making tools that you like and help you with this. Then you will get things done and be productive. Put on your favourite music with a strong beat to keep you going and prevent you from dozing off.


No doubt you will identify other foibles and activities which do not help you get the work done effectively. The first step is to recognise that you are doing these things, be kind to yourself, and decide how to manage these yourself. I hope my hints will help you make it a success!

Carolyn is the author of the 'Manage your language, How to get ahead in Health and Social Care' series of books of useful words and phrases to use at work to help you gain confidence, and impress others. Find out more here: https://amzn.to/37SLZej #manageyourlanguage