THE SECRETS TO SUCCESSFUL FLEXIBLE WORKING
Manage your day and work your own way. For many of us, the dream of flexible working remains just that: a dream.
Stuck in a rigid schedule and a time-consuming commute, we think how much better it would be if we could take charge of our own destinies and plan work to fit our lives rather than the other way around. But where to start? All over the world, business-owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers are thinking the same, and empowering themselves by making the decision to go it alone and work the way they want to – these tips will help you make it work for you, too.
Go your own way
A common pitfall with flexible working is getting side-tracked, especially if this involves working from home. The temptation to quickly fold that laundry can snowball into ‘quickly’ putting more washing on, loading the dishwasher and watering the plants – and then an hour of the working day suddenly disappears. Finding somewhere to do your job, such as a café or flexible office space, can create a physical barrier between home and work that puts you in the right frame of mind to concentrate and get things done. For Christopher Deacon, whose company MCE Insurance uses a Regus location in Gibraltar, being able to access a flexible office environment not only provides a dedicated space for work but is also handy when he needs an extra desk or meeting room. “It’s very helpful and accommodating to our ever-changing business needs,” he says.
Set a routine
Wherever you plan to perform the tasks required to do your job, it’s important to treat it as a work day just like any other. It can be all too easy for homeworkers to spend that extra 30 minutes in bed before slipping into trackpants that wouldn’t cut the mustard in an office environment. While dressing in a suit might be taking it too far, making the conscious decision to get out of cosy clothes and perhaps start the day with an early-morning stroll to your local café will help to establish a pattern you can stick to.
Find your favourite
Keitumetse Mabitsela, whose company Synergy Worx uses a Spaces property in Johannesburg, is a fan of the co-working set-up – particularly with aesthetics in mind: “I love the new look and open-space office,” she says of the design-driven Regus brand. “It’s truly a high-end office look and feel.” If you occasionally need to entertain clients, this is something worth thinking about. And what if you also need office support, such as mail-handling and telephone-answering? “The receptionists are amazing,” Mabitsela adds.
Time your time
Being aware of how much time you spend on a task is a sure-fire way to increase your efficiency, especially when you realise that something is swallowing up too much of it. Flexible workers often work longer hours than their office-based counterparts, simply because it’s easy to spend more time over something when there’s no rush hour to worry about – but this is really just wasting time another way. So be ruthless with how you spend it – and how much of it you allot to each task – and structure your day just as you would in an office.
Eat well and make a move
Flexible workers who spend a lot of time alone can also spend more time sitting down. When walking over to a colleague’s desk for an answer is replaced by an email, there’s simply no need to get up. Another common pitfall is snacking just for the sake of it, often as a replacement activity for that office chat over a cup of tea. Both of these situations are detrimental to health, but finding an environment that encourages working – and walking – can put a stop to this behaviour. Many Regus offices either offer healthy snacks in-house or can be found in busy environments where cafés, restaurants and shops abound, allowing you to stretch your legs, get some air and see the world.
Down tools for downtime
According to Medium’s health and wellness publication Nuance, even a small amount of downtime can have a positive effect on productivity. Loren Frank, a professor at the Center for Integrative Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco, has this to say about the power of disconnecting: “We know the brain can get into its downtime state very quickly, and the education research suggests just a few minutes — five to 15 — are enough to aid learnin.” In other words, you’ll get more done by doing less.
Even the most solitary of workers needs social contact – it’s in our nature. Homeworkers in particular can find it hard to start the day without the bustle and small interactions that do wonders for our well-being and scheduling a change of scene into the week can have a big impact. Otto Engeli, who uses a Regus location in Geneva, enjoys both the professional and personal aspects of his flexible-office arrangement: “Both people on reception are highly competent and very professional,” he says. “As well as the very friendly, human aspect, it is always a pleasure to return to Regus.”